The opening day of the Extreme Sailing Series™, Act 2 Muscat, delivered an afternoon of perfect racing conditions, as the eight-strong Extreme 40 fleet flew around the coastal racecourse in Muscat, Oman, relishing the North Easterly breeze that filled in from eight to 16 knots.
With six races complete, the stand out team for the day was undoubtedly home boat The Wave, Muscat, with British Olympian Leigh McMillan on the helm joined by two-time British Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton. Aytons’s clear, concise tactics onboard saw the team sail a smart course, with the fastest boat speed downwind which led them to the podium in five out of six races, according to the SAP Sailing Analytics.
The only blemish on an otherwise near-perfect score line came in the second race, after a tight rounding at the first windward mark with Red Bull Sailing Team, which resulted in a penalty and a last place finish.
On the dock, helm McMillan was quietly satisfied with the result. I didn’t realize how well we had done. We had a few good races – but then that last place, so that was frustrating. I love the intensity of the racing, it doesn’t give you time to sit around and contemplate a bad result, you have to smash into the next race and I like that. It was really nice work by the team, and great to be sailing in these fantastic conditions.
However, The Wave, Muscat know is isn’t easy to stay at the top, with McMillan admitting, We often have our highs and lows in these events. We have to push all the way and not let our grip go. With an anticipated 20 races still to come this week, the Omani teams four point lead over second placed SAP Extreme Sailing Team, co-skippered by Jes Gram-Hansen and Rasmus Køstner, could quickly get eaten into.
The Danish team had an outstanding day, finding consistency within the fleet and the rolling waves to finish in second place, proving that this team are hot contenders for a podium position, after their second place finish at Act 1, Singapore just four weeks ago. Even an OCS (over course start) in the second race today, couldn’t break the stride of the Danes, and thanks to the cool head of tactician Køstner, the team broke away from the fleet, took a right, shift that came in their favour and lifted the team from last to fourth place.
Speaking after racing, Køstner summed up a job well done. ‘There are a lot of waves here so you have to think about your manoeuvres. The key is full speed around the course. It is full on action out there – lots of white water spraying off the boat and with everyone pushing hard, things happen quickly. It was a good day on the water.
Finishing off the overnight podium, Oman Air had a confident start to the Act. Staying out of trouble on the start line and keeping it clean on the racecourse clearly paid off for the team as skipper Stevie Morrison explains, ‘A lot of our mistakes were obvious in Singapore and we have been working on the kiss principle – ‘keep it simple stupid’. We minimise the situations where we can, so we aren’t rushed and out of control. I think that comes from good communications and the better we are getting, the more concise everything is.
Red Bull Sailing Team, GAC Pindar and Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes all managed to add a race win to their scoreboard today. Returning to the fleet after a break from the Series in 2014, GAC Pindar’s co–skipper, five-times World Match Racing champion Ian Williams summaried the day. ‘It was pretty much the perfect conditions, and to top it off we won a race. It’s always nice to win but our main focus is less about winning races and more about getting some consistency and avoiding the bad races, although we did have a couple of those today as well. We’ll go away, think about that and try not to have any bad races tomorrow.
Just one point behind GAC Pindar in seventh place, Gazprom Team Russia will be looking to at least match or better their Act 1, Singapore results where team finished just off the podium in forth place.
Rounding out the scoreboard Lino Sonego Team Italia helm, Lorenzo Bressani, was open about the challenges of being a new team in such an experienced fleet. ‘The boat is very difficult to drive, when we go straight we are the same speed as the best team, but sailing going into the tack is very difficult as we struggle with the acceleration. This is where the rest of fleet are very sharp, but tomorrow we will learn and make sure we are better.
With a storm due to blow over the city tonight, Race Director Phil Lawrence is optimistic that we will see another day of idyllic 16knot breeze tomorrow for day two of the Act 2 Muscat, as the fleet move into the stadium and the event opens to the public.
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 2 Muscat standings after Day 1, 6 races (11.03.15)
Position / Team / Points
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 50 points.
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Mads Emil Stephensen, Brad Farrand 46 points.
3rd Oman Air (OMA) Stevie Morrison, Nic Asher, Ted Hackney, Ed Powys, Ali Al Balashi 44 points.
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Jason Waterhouse, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 43 points.
5th GAC Pindar (GBR) Seve Jarvin, Ian Williams, Marcus Ashley-Jones, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski 35 points.
6th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Alexander Bozhko, Aleksey Kulakov 34 points.
7th Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes (TUR) Mitch Booth, Edhem Dirvana, Selim Kakış, Diogo Cayolla, Matteo Auguadro 31 points.
8th Lino Sonego Team Italia (ITA) Lorenzo Bressani, Enrico Zennaro, Gabriele Olivo, Tom Buggy, Stefano 29 points.
by Extreme Sailing Series ™