Oman Air dished out a lesson in consistency to the Extreme Sailing Series™ fleet today to jump into pole position as the action intensified in St Petersburg.
With victories in three of the four Acts so far this season Morgan Larson’s crew top the 2016 overall standings, and on the second day of Act five, presented by SAP, they showed once again why they’re the team to beat.
In seven tense races on St Petersburg’s Neva River, Oman Air only finished outside of the podium twice, notching up two race wins, two seconds and a third along the way.
The results see them leapfrog arch rivals Alinghi from third place into first on the Act five leaderboard, and they will now go into the penultimate day with a slim five-point buffer.
“It was nice to take what we learned from yesterday and execute it today,” skipper Larson said. “We know that in the Extreme Sailing Series advantages don’t last for long so we have to keep working on it, but we’re just chipping away.
“There were definitely some traps out there on the race course today – you could sail yourself into a hole and watch the whole fleet go past you. We sailed conservatively in that respect, just trying to stay in the pressure and keep ourselves in the races.”
Day one leaders SAP Extreme Sailing Team slipped down the rankings into third after a tough day that saw anything from six to 12 knots blowing through the race course.
In contrast to their trouble-free day on the water yesterday they were twice relegated to the back of the fleet today after picking up penalties for rules infringements.
“Our second day was really difficult for us,” co-skipper Gram-Hansen admitted. “We didn’t get the starts right in the first couple of races and from there on it was uphill for us, but we started to sail better throughout the day and in the end the damage wasn’t too bad.
“I think we showed yesterday that when we sail well we can match Alinghi and Oman Air but today the wind was very shifty in direction and strength and we got a bit out of flow. We will need to change that for tomorrow.”
There were also mixed results for tour stalwarts Red Bull Sailing Team, who appeared to have the bit between their teeth as racing got underway, winning the first race by an enormous two-minute margin.
However a frustrating run of low scores then followed, culminating in them being penalised for causing Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira to hit a river marker at the climax of the fifth race of the day.
It took until the penultimate race of the day for Red Bull Sailing Team to rediscover their form, winning with the same style with which they began, then following it up with a second place in the final race.
Skipper Roman Hagara, a double Olympic gold medallist and one of the Extreme Sailing Series’ most experienced sailors, said: “We made some bad mistakes in some races and that puts you back in among the fleet again, especially in these tricky conditions. If you’re in the mix with everyone else it’s hard, it can be up and down.
“We sat down last night and identified the starts as an area to improve, and today we showed that once you’re ahead you can sail in a clear lane and it’s much easier to do better.”
Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira started strongly with two podiums but came last in the two final races to end the day in fifth overall. Wild cards Gazprom Team Russia, led by New Zealander Phil Robertson, scored their first win of the Act followed by two third-place finishes, but a strong day from sixth-placed Land Rover BAR Academy with three podium finishes keeps the home team at the bottom of the table in seventh.
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act five, St Petersburg presented by SAP standings after day two, 14 races (02.09.16)
Position / Team / Points
First – Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 142 points.
Second – Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 137 points.
Third – SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi De Felice, Renato Conde 130 points.
Fourth – Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Stewart Dodson, Adam Piggott, Jérémy Bachelin 122 points.
Fifth – Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira (POR) Diogo Cayolla, Frederico Melo, Nuno Barreto, Antonio Fontes, João Matos Rosa 119 points.
Sixth – Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Neil Hunter, Chris Taylor, Will Alloway, Sam Batten, Rob Bunce 117 points.
Seventh – Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Phil Robertson, Will Tiller, Shane Diviney, Alexsey Kulakov, Victor Serezhkin 115 points.
by Extreme Sailing Series