Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Extreme 40 : Oman Sail Prepares for Boston

Oman Air. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC ThirdPole.

by Mohammed al Eissa

Just three weeks after the Extreme Sailing Series Istanbul, Oman Sail’s Extreme 40s Oman Air and The Wave, Muscat are bound for Boston, in the USA, for the fourth act of the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series. The 11 boat Extreme 40 fleet will reconvene in Boston for five days of racing from the 30th June-4th July, and is the first time Omani sailors have competed on American waters.

Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, and is the capital of, and largest city, in the state of Massachusetts. Oman Sail will visit the historic city during one of America’s most celebrated national holidays, Independence Day. Racing will be staged at Fan Pier as part of Boston Harborfest, the largest the Fourth of July celebration in the United States, which showcases the colonial and maritime heritage of the City of Boston. Relations between Oman and the USA date back over two centuries, when the Boston Rambler became the first American ship to visit Oman in 1790.

After a challenging start to the Series for the team on Oman Air, they posted their best result yet during the third act in Istanbul, securing a number of top five race finishes and a host of race wins. However, as Nasser Al Mashari, Bowman on Oman Air explained, the team is still looking to improve their place on the leaderboard. “We were happy with the way we performed in Istanbul. We are improving at every event, and getting better results. Istanbul was an important one for us as we knew we had to raise our level, which we did. The competition is tough but we have to keep pushing ourselves to improve – we want a better result out of Boston and we have shown that we can win races – we just want to win some more!”.

For The Wave, Muscat, the event in Boston will see the debut of their new skipper, in the form of British Olympian Leigh McMillan. Leigh stepped into the role earlier this month, following the announcement that the young Australian skipper Torvar Mirsky will be stepping down from the position. Leigh is no newcomer to Extreme 40 sailing, or Oman Sail, having steered Oman Sail Masirah to victory in the Extreme Sailing Series Asia in 2009, and claiming third place overall in 2010 as helm on the British entry Ecover. Leigh commented: “I am really thrilled to be sailing on the Extreme 40 again, it has added weight this time as I am going to be skippering so for me that is a new challenge. We will start off with no real high expectations as we are new guys sailing together – the team has a lot of experience this year and I have a lot of experience from before, so we still have to piece it all together but there is a lot of potential there.”

For The Wave, Muscat’s Omani bowman Khamis Al Anbouri, it has been a frustrating period between events, after he ripped his hamstring during training. He commented: “Since Istanbul I have been training in Muscat with the new Oman Sail recruits but I ripped my right hamstring during some speedruns so I have had to take the training a little easier then I would have liked. I really wanted to focus on my fitness during this time so it has been a bit of a set back, but it is getting better though and I am going to be fine in time for Boston, I’m not worried about that! I have never sailed in America before I am really looking forward to showing off Oman to the people in Boston”.

After three events, Oman Air lies in eighth places in the overall Series standings, with The Wave, Muscat sitting in sixth place. Three different winners have emerged from the three Acts so far this year; Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) claimed victory in Act One which was held out of The Wave Muscat in Oman, Luna Rossa (ITA) in Act Two in Qingdao China, and then Artemis Racing (SWE) were crowned victors in Istanbul. The overall Series leader remains the French team of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.

After the event in Boston, the Extreme Sailing Series will travel to the UK, Italy, France, and Spain, before it’s conclusion in Singapore in December.

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

Extreme Sailing Series 2011
Overall Series standings after 3 Acts

1) Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) (29)
2) Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) (28)
3) Artemis Racing (SWE) (27)
4) Luna Rossa (ITA) (25)
5) Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) (23)
6) The Wave, Muscat (OMA) (18)
7) Alinghi (SUI) (18)
8) Oman Air (OMA) (11)
9) Team Extreme (EUR) (8)
10) Team Niceforyou (ITA) (6)
11)Team GAC Pindar (GBR) (5)

Oman Sail
Extreme Sailing Series