The Oman Air team are heading into the second half of the Extreme Sailing Series on a high after rebooting their campaign with an emphatic victory last time out.
The globe-trotting yacht racing circuit descends on Hamburg, Germany, this week, the fifth of eight venues to showcase the high-speed action provided by the foiling GC32 catamarans. For Oman Air – confidence fully renewed after a win in Barcelona two weeks ago – the River Elbe racing venue is a welcome opportunity to make a bid for the top of the overall Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard.
The increasingly polished crew of Phil Robertson, Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari, James Wierzbowski and Ed Smyth are perfectly placed to make their move, sitting just a single point behind the joint leaders SAP Extreme Sailing Team and Alinghi.
“Barcelona was a game-changer for us,” said Greenhalgh, a veteran of Oman Sail’s Extreme Sailing Series campaigns. “We really felt something had to happen there. We had to have a top two result to be in with a chance at the series, so coming away with a win was a goal achieved.”
The Oman Air crew’s achievement was all the more remarkable, Greenhalgh disclosed, as there was drama behind the scenes. He had injured himself during training, while skipper Robertson had fallen ill and would probably not have been able to race on the first day had it not been cancelled due to bad weather. “It makes you wonder how we’d do if everyone was fully fit,” he laughed.
Oman Air took three race wins and 11 other podium finishes in the 21 races leading up to the finale of the Barcelona event, and then crowned their achievement with a peerless performance which saw them finish more than two minutes ahead of their nearest rival.
At the previous Acts in Muscat, Qingdao in China and Madeira, the team had shown their potential with several race wins, but had finished in third place at each of them. It was a pattern they were happy to break, particularly as the Red Bull Racing Team also beat the leading teams.
“Winning in Barcelona was great for us of course,” said Omani bowman Al Mashari. “The fact Red Bull managed to get through into second with SAP third and Alinghi fourth was also good for us, we couldn’t have asked for anything more.
“We can go into Hamburg ambitious – we are all really happy and looking forward to it.”
Four days of racing are scheduled in Hamburg from August 10 to 13 with Cardiff the next destination at the end of the month. The season continues in San Diego, California, in October, before concluding in Los Cabos, Mexico, at the end of November.
Also on display in Hamburg and Cardiff is the drama and high-speed action of the Flying Phantom Series. The 5.5m long two-handed foiling catamarans – capable of reaching 31 knots – are aimed at helping new talent break into top-level competitive sailing.
The Oman Sail entry crewed by Thomas Normand and Ahmed Al Hasani will be seeking to improve on their current fifth place in the 13-strong fleet, following stages in Madeira and Barcelona.
by Oman Sail