Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Extreme 40 : Oman Sail impress American crowds

The Wave, Muscat, leading. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC ThirdPole

by Mohammed Al Eissa

The penultimate day of racing in Boston saw Oman Air put in their best performance of the regatta to date, climbing a place on the leader board. A series of top five finishes lifted them from ninth to eighth, extending their lead over their biggest competition Team NiceforYou (ITA) before the final day tomorrow. The Wave, Muscat have slipped a place to third, but still retain a podium position and are within striking distance of first placed Artemis Racing (SWE).

A total of eight races were staged today, and the 11 boat fleet reveled in the gusty and shifty conditions in Boston, flying their hulls as they raced downwind in gusts of up to 20knots, on the short, tight courses. Racing started earlier then planned today, with the forecasters predicting thunderstorms for the afternoon, and sure enough, after race six the thunder and rain came and the coast guard made the decision to postpone racing. After a short respite for the teams who headed ashore, racing resumed at Fan Pier in Boston with two more races played out. Khamis Al Anbouri, Bowman on The Wave, Muscat commented: “The courses were shorter today and each race only lasted about 10 minutes, which is really tough work on board but really enjoyable. Boston has been providing some great conditions this week and is really testing us. The storms have passed now and we are looking forward a great final day of racing tomorrow”.

Extreme 40s line up for the start. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC ThirdPole

The battle between Oman Air and the Italian team of NiceforYou for eighth place took on even more intensity today, with the pair tied on points after three races today. Oman Air put in their best performance of the event so far, and finish today an impressive 16 points clear of NiceforYou. Nasser Al Mashari commented: “It was a better day for us today. In the last race we got a penalty on the start for being over the line which left us at the back of the fleet. We kept fighting, and focused, and worked hard to catch the rest of the fleet. We finished that race eighth so we can see improvements in our sailing everyday.”

Nasser went on to reflect about his time here in Boston: “It is a dream come true for me to be sailing in Boston, and I am so proud to be representing Oman and Oman Air. I feel privileged to be part of that, and tomorrow we will be trying our hardest to make everyone in Oman proud of us.”

Nasser al Mashari shines on day 4. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC ThirdPole

The Wave Muscat put in a strong performance today with a win in race two, and two second place finishes. But it was the Kiwi team, Emirates Team New Zealand skippered by America’s Cup sailor Dean Barker, who dominated today, with two race wins proving enough to snatch the second place from The Wave, Muscat. The team maintains a podium position, and finish today in third, three points shy of the Kiwi’s going into the final day tomorrow. Leigh McMillan, the teams Skipper commented: “When you are racing against the likes of Dean Barker (Emirates Team New Zealand) and Terry Hutchinson (Artemis Racing) you can be leading a race and you look around and they are right there on your tail– you cant rely on these guys to have a bad day because they just don’t! Although we were pretty solid out there today, they were completely on fire and have extended their lead.” Artemis Racing (SWE) are still top of the leader board, having held onto the top spot since day one.

Extreme 40s line up for the start. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/OC ThirdPole

Tomorrow the winner of the Extreme Sailing Series Boston will be decided, and with at least six races still to go, any of the top seven teams are in contention for a podium position. Only 17 points separate the top three, with fight for overall victory far from over. Khamis Al Anbouri, The Wave, Muscat’s Bowman commented: “We will go out tomorrow with the same attitude as today and just try to sail out own race. We won’t change our tactics because it is the last day but we do know that we need to improve our starts so we will focus on that tomorrow. As a new team we didn’t come here expecting to be on the podium, but now that we are in the hunt for it we will be working hard to stay there.”

Tomorrow Boston will host tomorrow’s biggest Fourth of July celebrations, with even more public expected to descend on the race village to show their support for the teams. 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 4 days, 22 races

1) Artemis Racing (SWE) (239)
2) Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) (225)
3) The Wave, Muscat (OMA) (222)
4) Luna Ross (ITA) (210)
5) Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) (200)
6) Alinghi (SUI) (199)
7) Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) (195.2)
8) Oman Air (OMA) (149)
9) Team NiceforYou (ITA) (133)
10)Team GAC Pindar (GBR) (116)
11) Team Extreme (EUR) (94)

Oman Sail
Extreme Sailing Series