ABU DHABI // The sky is the limit for Suhail Al Gailani after the 14-year-old Emirati completed a superb sailing gold double by winning Optimist Class at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Open Regatta Saturday, adding to the title he won in Qatar last weekend.
Al Gailani will look to round off his medal collection at the Arab Games in Qatar, which starts on December 14, when he again targets the Optimist Class, which he hopes will be a stepping stone to fulfilling his ultimate goal of becoming world champion.
"I want to win the gold medal at the Arab Games, then I want to become the Arab champion and, eventually, the world champion. That's my ambition if you ask me," he said after collecting his prize at the end of the two-day sailing event at the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club.
Al Gailani is a product of the Emirates Heritage Club's schools programme.
The early promise first shown as a nine year old has now seen him develop into one of the best juniors in the country.
"We select students randomly from various national schools in Abu Dhabi and thereafter hand-pick the most talented ones for the sailing scholarship. Suhail is one of them," said Omar Bazara, the Trainer's Supervisor at the Heritage Club. "I have seen his progress and I have a lot of expectations"
The Optimist Class is for juniors from age eight to 15 and the sail boat is around 2.5 metres in length and operated by one person.
"It is a class that every sailor, from an amateur to a world champion, must go through," said Reinier D'Arnaud, a race official and the sailing co-ordinator of the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club (ADSYC).
"We have a number of young Emiratis in this class and they have excelled and are turning out to be bright prospects when they step up in class."
Saturday's event was cut short because of the rough waters with only two of the scheduled five races for the yachts taking place. Friday's event also had a reduction of races due to high winds and rough seas.
Majed Ateeq Al Mehairi, the chief executive of ADSYC, said he believes the success of this year's event will draw sailors from other Gulf States on the competition's return next year.
"We wanted a start and now we have got it," Al Mehairi said. "This event was well received by the local sailors and next year we will invite participants from all other Gulf countries and the Middle East."
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