Monday, 4 July 2011

Extreme 40 : Close Combat on Day 3 for Oman Sail

Crowds gather at Fan Pier, Boston, to watch the Extreme 40 racing. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC ThirdPole

by Mohammed Al Eissa

The city of Boston delivered some superb sailing conditions for the Extreme Sailing Series today, as the Extreme 40’s battled in out in close combat just meters from the shore. After three days of sailing and 22 races, the top five on the leader board remain unchanged at the end of today, with less then 20 points separating the teams. Artemis Racing (SWE) narrowly maintain their lead over The Wave, Muscat, who will go into the penultimate day of racing tomorrow in second place.

In Nasser Al Mashari, bowman on Oman Air’s words, ‘the weather conditions in Boston were perfect today”, with the seabreeze delivering winds of around 20 mph as racing got underway. The fleet were accelerating of the line and reaching speeds of 15mph in less than 15 seconds, much to the delight of some 15,000 spectators who turned out in their thousands to witness the fleet in action. Khamis Al Anbouri, Bowman on The Wave, Muscat commented: “The wind was from a different direction today which meant it was much easier to predict. It was really steady and a good strength, so it was great sailing out there today! The start and finish points for the racing is right in front of the crowds, we are so close you can hear them cheering from the shore!”

With the leader board changing after almost every race, it was a tense day on the water, particularly at the top end of the fleet. After race six, The Wave, Muscat had done enough to climb to the top, but they couldn’t hold the lead for long, with Artemis Racing waiting to pounce and reclaiming the top spot after race seven. Going into the eighth and final race of the day the pressure was on for The Wave, Muscat who were just three points shy of Artemis Racing, and two points ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand. A ninth in the final race of the day leaves the team on second place. Khamis explained: “We don’t look at the leader board during racing as we try to focus on one race at a time, working as a team and getting a good result. The last two races were bad for us today, but we are happy with the first six so six out of eight isn’t bad! The team is working well together and its great to have Leigh on board – he brings a lot of technical knowledge.”

Mid leader board, the battle between Oman Air and the Italian boat of NiceforYou, skippered by America’s Cup sailor, Alberto Barovier, was just as exciting, with the two teams jostling for points throughout the day. Oman Air got their day off to a solid start, posting a fourth in the first race of the day, and finish on a high with a fifth, enough to leave them in ninth position overall - just eight points off the Italians. Both Oman Air and NiceforYou are over 20 points clear of tenth and eleventh placed Team Extreme (EUR) and Team GAC Pindar (GBR).

Sidney Gavignet, skipper on Oman Air commented: “We are struggling a little here in Boston and are working hard to be further up the leader board. At the last event in Istanbul we started working well together as a team and we were getting good results – I would say we were getting close to where we wanted to be which was ideal. We are still working well as a team but we just aren’t getting the results we want at the minute. We have two days left and the attitude on board Oman Air is positive – these are great guys to sail with.”

Whilst the Extreme 40’s have been busy battling it out in front of the American crowds, a local sailing group, Courageous Sailing, have been having a competition of their own, with young people from the city of Boston competing in Laser dinghies. The organisation, which offers sailing lessons to disadvantaged youngsters, had their prize giving in the Extreme Sailing Series race village today, with The Wave, Muscat skipper, Leigh McMillan, being invited to hand out medals to the group.

The stand-out team of the day was the Swiss boat of Alinghi, who posted three race wins, and finish today in seventh. After damage to their rudder yesterday, Red Bull Extreme (AUT) put in a strong performance, climbing two places to sixth at the end of today.

The event is wide open going into the penultimate day tomorrow, with any of the top seven boats still able to claim the championship. With stronger winds and thunder storms forecast, Boston is really trying to test the sailor’s skills, before the event will draw to a close on Monday 4th July, the American Independence Day, one of America’s most celebrated national holidays.

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

Results after 3 days, 22 races:

1) Artemis Racing (SWE) (169)
2) The Wave, Muscat (OMA) (159)
3) Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) (158)
4) Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) (156)
5) Luna Ross (ITA) (151)
6) Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) (148.2)
7) Alinghi (SUI) (141)
8) Team NiceforYou (ITA) (114)
9) Oman Air (OMA) (106)
10) Team Extreme (EUR) (83)
11) Team GAC Pindar (GBR) (72)

Oman Sail
Extreme Sailing Series