Saturday, 26 February 2011

Extreme 40: Collision between Oman Sail Boats on Final Day in Muscat

Oman Air Majan's Nasser Al Mashari and Sidney Gavignet. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OCThirdPole.

by Nicky Moore

The Extreme Sailing Series Muscat drew to its conclusion today at The Wave, Muscat in the sultanate of Oman, and after 32 races, it came down to the final double points race before the winner emerged victorious. Pierre Pennec and his French team on Groupe Edmond de Rothchild finished fifth in the last race of the day, and with it secured the Extreme Sailing Series Muscat crown.

Despite the light winds of 7-9 knots, the action came in thick and fast, with the on-water umpires dishing out multiple penalties. The home teams of Oman Air and The Wave, Muscat showed they may be friends on land but not on water, colliding in the penultimate race of the day, launching bowman Khamis Al Anbouri from The Wave, Muscat. Khamis explained “We tacked and we tried to duck underneath Oman Air but we underestimated it and we hit them. I was sitting really far forward on the bow of the boat and had nothing to hold on to, so I ended up in the water. The support boat picked me up and I jumped back on The Wave, Muscat – we kept sailing and gained three points in that race so it was pretty exciting.”

Khamis and the team on The Wave, Muscat got the event off to a perfect start five days ago, posting two first places and a second place, leaving the defending champions at the top of the leader board after day one. But the other teams were waiting to pounce, and the team finishes the event in seventh overall. Torvar Mirksy, skipper of The Wave, Muscat commented, “this class is unbelievable, it has been a really fun week. Obviously we are disappointed we finished fairly low down the leader board, but I am confident we can improve on that in the next event.”

For Omani Nasser Al Mashari, this week saw his first week as full time crew member on an Extreme 40, where he has taken on the role of bowman on board the second boat hailing from the Sultanate, Oman Air. The team on Oman Air posted some good results throughout the week, but finishes the week a place behind their team mates, in eighth. Nasser commented, “We came into this event looking for a top five finish so of coarse we are a bit disappointed, but we have learnt so much this week and feel really positive looking forward.”

Oman Air Majan. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OCThirdPole.

This season has seen six new teams entering the Series, against five existing teams from last year, many with new skippers and crew. An influx of world class sailors, including America’s Cup teams such as Team New Zealand, has resulted in some highly unpredictable and fast paced competition on the water this week.

As the new teams have grown in confidence during the event, the combat has become even more intense. Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis Racing, representing Sweden, demonstrated their strong form posting an impressive seven race wins during the event, which was enough to secure the second place overall. Just four points behind them and claiming the final spot on the podium was the Red Bull team (AUT), lead by Double Olympic Gold medalist Roman Hagara.

Max Sirena and the crew of Italian team of Luna Rossa, delivered an outstanding performance on the final day, posting three race wins, including clinching the final race of the day, finishing the event in fifth. Alinghi (SUI) take the sixth place, with Team Extreme (EUR), Team Nice For You (ITA) and Team GAC Pindar (GBR), making up the rest of the leaderboard.

Whilst the racing played out within meters of the shore, the public Race Village was buzzing with the Beach Football League and the Red Bull Freestyle shows. Bader Al Maimani, the Omani footballer was in attendance and joined the estimated 5,000 spectators who watched the action on the final day.

Extreme 40 racing off The Wave Muscat. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OCThirdPole.

After leaving Oman the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series will head off to China, for the next installment of this nine stop Global Tour, which starts on the 13th April. Sidney Gavignet, skipper of Oman Air commented, “this event has been a big learning curve for us and I think in the bigger picture of Oman Sail both the Extreme 40 teams can be proud. We have very good team spirit and this is going to be important in the coming months. Muscat was only the first event, and we have learnt a lot. China could see a complete shake up on the leader board. We will be pushing for a better result”.

The Extreme Sailing Series will travel to China, Turkey, the USA, the UK, Italy, France, and Spain, before it’s conclusion in Singapore in December.

Final Results, after 32 races, Thursday 24th February – overall points

1) Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) (253)
2) Artemis Racing (SWE) (243)
3) Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) (239)
4) Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) (236)
5) Luna Ross (ITA) (234)
6) Alinghi (SUI) (217)
7) The Wave, Muscat (OMA) (208)
8) Oman Air (OMA) (188)
9) Team Extreme (EUR) (140)
10) Team Nice (ITA) (95)
11)Team GAC Pindar (GBR) (62)

2011 Calendar & Host Venues:

Act 1: 20-24 February, Muscat, Oman
Act 2: 13-17 April, China
Act 3: 25-29 May, Istanbul, Turkey
Act 4: 30 June – 4 July, Boston, USA
Act 5: 6-12 August, Cowes, UK
Act 6: 16-18 September, Trapani, Italy
Act 7: 30 September – 2 October, Nice, France
Act 8: 12-16 October, Almeria, Spain
Act 9: 9-11 December, Singapore

Oman Sail
Extreme Sailing Series