Oman Sail crews on The Wave, Muscat and Oman Air look to exercise Olympics insight in Qingdao.
A long-standing familiarity with conditions in Qingdao, China, could give Oman Sail’s crews on Oman Air and The Wave, Muscat a distinct edge when racing gets underway in Act 3 of the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series on Thursday.
Oman Air skipper Stevie Morrison reckons he has spent a total of 16 weeks since 2006 in Qingdao as part of his preparations for the Olympic Games in 2008 when he represented Great Britain in the 49er class.
His crew Nic Asher is also a dab hand at reading the winds and currents in Fushan Bay after campaigning his 470 to third place at the Olympic test event there in 2006, one month before winning the 470 World Championships further along the Chinese coast at Rizhao.
“It could be light and fickle, we could be fog bound or it could be windy but we know our way around there so will be pretty happy whatever we get – a lot of the racing will be on the same courses that we’ve raced on,” said Morrison who will be making his first trip back to Qingdao since the Olympics seven years ago.
“But this is winter and it is very cold at this time of year and you get wind off the city whereas we were there in the summer when it was hot and humid with a light and fickle breeze off the sea, always five knots or less. We have 30 knots forecast this week!”
“Knowing the place means we will be more relaxed and we have to take advantage of that but we were starting to gel at the last event in Muscat and at the start of the final day, were actually in striking distance of winning. It showed a big improvement so hopefully we can make some more gains in Qingdao.”
Morrison revealed that since Muscat, he, Asher, Ed Powys, Ted Hackney and Ali Al Balushi had been exchanging emails and You Tube clips to work out how they could improve manoeuvres and communication.
“We are very excited at the opportunity that Oman Air, the Sultanate’s national airline, has given us so we are keen to eliminate the silly mistakes and make some gains. We feel now that if we get the lead, we will stay there and if we are at the back in a race, we have a reasonable chance of overtaking a couple of boats so we really believe that we can challenge the top three.”
Leigh McMillan, skipper of The Wave, Muscat, claimed the Extreme Qingdao title in 2012 and again a year later but last year, they suffered a disappointing final day and finished in 4th place.
Their confidence however is high after claiming the Extreme Oman title last month.
It was their first win of 2015 and hopefully, the first step on the road to reclaiming the Extreme Sailing Series crown which they won in 2012 and successfully defended the following year.
“We had an average finish at this event last year,” explained McMillan who will be racing with his crew of Pete Greenhalgh, Sarah Ayton, Nasser Al Mashari and Ed Smyth.
“It got windy and gusty and we didn’t adapt very well but hopefully we will get some nice conditions this year and we can make the most of the form we showed in Oman.
“The standard of SAP and Red Bull has sky rocketed in 2015 so we really had to focus in Muscat and managed to pull it off with some good starts and solid crew work so we will be pushing hard to improve on that performance.”
The Wave, Muscat bowman Nasser Al Mashari added: “We had a tough start to the season in Singapore but winning in Muscat has made us more confident about the rest of the year – we know Qingdao will be challenging but we have won there twice before so our record is good.”
Racing in Act 3 Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao takes place from Thursday 30 April to Sunday 3 May on Fushan Bay, home of the 2008 Olympic Village.
Note to Editors
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 new 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 seven 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.
more info …. extremesailingseries.com
by Daphne Morgan Barnicoat