Thursday, 27 May 2010

Extreme 40s: Oman Sail - Ready, Sète, Go!

Masirah. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

by Nicky Moore

With just one day to go until the start of the Extreme Sailing Series, the reigning European and Asian champions, Masirah, are aiming to carry on where they left off- at the top of the leaderboard. Oman Sail stablemates, The Wave, Muscat are also planning to make a real impact on the leaderboard when racing kicks off in Sète, France on the 27th May.

French superstar Loick Peyron (FRA) who will be taking the helm of Masirah for the Extreme Sailing Series 2010 said, “Though I have only sailed here once, many years ago, Sète is an excellent venue and I am very happy to be back, the town is seeped in maritime history”. Located on the sun-soaked shores of the Mediterranean, it once provided the base for the Alinghi’s America’s Cup team and is known for unpredictable conditions.

With all eight teams now on location, both Extreme 40s hailing from The Sultanate of Oman have been trying to fit in some extra training before racing starts. “As we have a new line-up this year, it has been important to us that we have the time to get to know each other. We are improving every time we go sailing together and working on our communication on board. We were training yesterday (25th) with The Wave, Muscat and Ecover and we had some great conditions. The wind seems to be picking up all the time; it should be a good start to the series.” Loick Peyron, skipper Masirah.

Loick Peyron (FRA), skipper, and Mark Bulkeley (GBR), trimmer, on Masirah. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

The standard of competition this year is expected to be even higher than in previous years, with all of the teams bringing a wealth of experience to the circuit. “There is a lot of pressure on me as I am sailing with the reigning champions, and the level this year has definitely increased dramatically. Obviously we would like to win, and to do that we need to make sure we are consistent in every race. There are not as many teams as last year so there will be more space on the start line which is always a tricky place, and it is crucial we get the starts right. The boat looks perfect and the team, including the shore crew, is ready.” Loick Peyron.

Confirmed for the series are eight international teams, including Omani entries Masirah and The Wave, Muscat. Pete Cumming (GBR), who skippered Masirah to victory in 2009, now trimmer and team manager, said, “We can’t take it for granted that we will win again and it certainly won’t be an easy event! We are up against some fierce competition but we have come here with high expectations”.

Paul Campbell-James (GBR), an experienced match-racer and skipper of The Wave, Muscat, steered his team to a second place finish in the 2009 Asian series, only a few points behind their team mates on Masirah. Paul and his team hope to at least match this result in Sète, “We are aiming for a podium finish; that would really get the season off to a great start. We have been checking out the others boats during our training this week and there are lots of good guys out here; we just can’t wait to get out on the water now”, he said as he prepared to go out sailing.

Khamis Al Anbouri (OMA), bowman on The Wave. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

Joining Paul will be one of the stars of the Oman National Squad, Khamis Al Anbouri (OMA). “The Asia series was good experience for me but there are more teams to contend with here, and some really experienced sailors. We have been training hard in Muscat and feel well prepared so we are really going to push ourselves this week”.

With the sun shining in Sète and the wind beginning to pick up, spirits in the Omani camp are high, as the teams get in some last minute practice, before meeting some of the world’s top international sailors on the start line on Thursday (27th May).

The Crew - Masirah
Loick Peyron – Helm (FRA)
Mark Bulkeley – Tactician (GBR)
Pete Cumming – Trimmer (GBR)
David Carr – Bowman (GBR)
Simon Hiscocks – Bowman (GBR) Simon will join Masirah in Sète in place of David Carr

The Crew - The Wave, Muscat
Paul Campbell-James – Helm (GBR)
Alister Richardson – Tactician (GBR)
Nick Hutton – Trimmer (GBR)
Khamis Al Anbouri – Bowman (OMA)

2010 Extreme Sailing Series Europe Calendar
Sète, France 27-30 May
Cowes, UK 31 July - 5 August
Kiel, Germany - 26-29 August
Trapani, Italy 23-26 September
Almeria, Spain 9-12 October

Oman Sail
Extreme Sailing Series Europe