Extreme Sailing Series 2016 – Oman Air turned the focus in Cardiff from tough test to tough team after launching their Welsh campaign with a string of successes to end the opening day at the top of the Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard.
A fresh but shifting breeze that held its strength throughout the eight races made for some eye catching action as the GC32s flew across the water at full tilt on their foils.
They were conditions ideally suited to Morgan Larson’s powerful crew on Oman Air, who are well-known to excel in big breeze.
The result was a stunning victory in the opening race followed by four further outright wins and an additional podium place bringing their score to 85 points, two points ahead of second placed Red Bull with Alinghi in third trailing by six points.
Consistent breeze has been forecast for the rest of the week and that came as good news for Pete Greenhalgh and other crewmembers Nasser Al Mashari, Ed Smyth and James Wierzbowski.
“We would love it if it is the same again for the rest of the week because we really like this venue,” said Greenhalgh, who has gathered family and friends from his home in Hampshire to lend Oman Air some special support.
“It’s renowned for nice breeze, it is a very boat handling oriented course and very changeable in terms of direction and strength. It’s exciting and we are just trying to sail to our full potential. Today we got into our stride and sailed round the course pretty tidily.
“These GC32 boats are very physical especially in these winds so we are always out of breath. Every time we tack and gybe, we have to drop and hoist these great big boards and that is really hard work because they have all the weight of the boat and crew on them.
“They require a serious bit of handling so on a small course like this, timing is everything, which is fine if you have the time but in these winds, you rarely do. But it’s brilliant.”
The close contest between the top three boats makes the remaining three days a thrilling prospect, added Nasser, Oman Air’s bowman.
“Red Bull and Alinghi are both very strong competitors but we have learned to concentrate on our own performances and not look out for anyone else so we will focus on our starts, boat-handling and teamwork and hopefully the results will come,” he said.
“Today was tough but we sailed well. Our teamwork was great. So far so good.”
Oman Air, who also lead the 2016 overall leaderboard by two points, continue racing on Friday June 24 through to Sunday June 26. Fans can watch the racing live on the official YouTube channel on 25-26 June, 1530-1700 BST daily. In the UK, they can also watch it live on BT Sport on the final day.
by Oman Sail