Extreme Racing cancelled due to strong winds in Sydney – champion The Wave, Muscat and Oman Air raring to go
The start of the last Extreme Sailing Series Act 8 was postponed today after exceptionally strong winds in Sydney forced the fleet to stay ashore and left reigning champions The Wave, Muscat and sister ship Oman Air impatient to get started. Heavy rain, 30 knots of wind and massive gusts forced organisers to cancel the first day of racing in the interest of safety and reset the start clock to Friday when The Wave, Muscat skipper Leigh McMillan will attempt to do battle with Alinghi’s Morgan Larson to keep hold of his crown. “It’s obviously disappointing that we couldn’t get out on the water today,” McMillan said. “We want to get as many races in as possible but we know we will be smashing out lots of races over the next couple of days and we’ll go out and give it our all. We’re not going to let the championship title go easily.” At a press conference before the decision was taken to cancel racing, all the Extreme skippers faced questions regarding their chances in Sydney including used Oman Air skipper Tom Slingsby who hails from Gosford up the used South Wales coast from Sydney.
Although Slingsby is well versed with high performance multihulls, this will be his first Extreme Sailing Series competition and he is excited by the prospect of representing Oman Air and trying to improve the team’s standing up the leaderboard: “I feel very privileged to be racing on Oman Air. It is a great opportunity because I have been watching them all year and although it’s a steep learning curve, I’m really keen to try to get some good results. “It was unfortunate that racing was cancelled today but we are looking forward to tomorrow when conditions are supposed to get a little lighter. “After we have had a day’s racing, I will know more about what we can achieve here but I would say I am an outsider still.
These boats are very different from the America’s Cup boats – they handle differently and perform differently but I have a great bunch of guys on board who have all sailed together before so we just have to try and get used to them as quickly as possible.” The winds look set to ease on Friday when the climax of the series can finally get underway. Oman Sail is a national initiative established in 2008 that uses the power of sport to contribute to the development of the Omani people. The equal opportunity project runs sailing programmes for thousands of young Omani men and women, inspiring a used generation to discover sailing. It encompasses a national sailing squad and high achieving inshore and offshore racing teams, all of which benefit from world-class coaching and whose ultimate objective is to win an Olympic medal for Oman.
The programme has pledged to teach 70,000 Omani children to sail by 2020 at eight sailing schools, four of which are already operational. The goal is to rekindle Oman’s maritime heritage while raising the country’s regional and international profile as a high-end tourist and foreign investment destination, through competitive sailing at home and abroad. Oman Sail seeks to instil confidence and to teach valuable, transferable life skills to a generation of Omanis.
by Daphne Morgan Barnicoat and BYM