Oman Sail’s The Wave, Muscat launch campaign to reclaim Extreme Sailing Series crown
In 2015 and British Olympian Stevie Morrison appointed Oman Air skipper
The Wave, Muscat skipper Leigh McMillan (GBR) has vowed to return to winning ways in 2015 as Oman Sail renew their bid for the Extreme Sailing Series crown with a fresh new line-up on Oman Air with Olympian Stevie Morrison appointed skipper.
After two triumphant years as Extreme Sailing Series champions, McMillan and his crew of Nasser Al Mashari (OMA), Sarah Ayton (GBR), Pete Greenhalgh (GBR), Kinley Fowler (NZL) and Ed Smyth (NZL) – who stepped in for Sydney – had to settle for second place last season when long term rivals Alinghi swept to victory at the final event in Australia in December.
It was a bitter blow, McMillan said but the title loss has sharpened their resolve to raise their game and claim the ‘treble’ in 2015.
“We were hoping to make it three Extreme championship titles in a row last season so now we have unfinished business and are determined to return to winning ways this year to land the treble. We prefer it when we are winning!”
The news that Alinghi would not be competing for the 2015 title was disappointing, McMillan added, and the sporting rivalry with skipper Morgan Larson will be sorely missed.
“It is incredibly sad that we won’t be racing against Alinghi this year. We were looking forward to renewing the rivalry with Morgan and his team because they set the bar high and raised performance levels all round but we fully expect someone else to give us a run for our money.
“There are a number of teams who have gained a lot of experience in the past couple of years and are making major jumps so we are not expecting it to be any easier.”
One name to look out for on the leaderboard in 2015 is Olympic 49er campaigner Stevie Morrison who takes over as skipper of a new look Oman Air crew to be announced in the lead up to Act 1 in Singapore. Morrison, who is new to Extreme 40 sailing, represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012 finishing 9th and 5th respectively and was crowned 49er World Champion in 2007.
At the announcement at the Dusseldorf Boat Show in Germany today, Morrison said campaigning a 49er gave him a head start in the Extreme 40 class but it would still be a steep learning curve.
“I have been following this circuit for a long time so it is an honour to be invited to be skipper of Oman Air and I am very excited. It is going to be awesome,” he said.
“Singapore will be my first go in an Extreme 40 so it will be a huge challenge. From a racing perspective, it is similar to the 49er but the reality is the Extreme 40 is a 40ft catamaran with five crew as opposed to a 15ft 49er with two so there are a lot of things I am going to have to learn fast.
“But I am lucky because Oman Sail have some of the most experienced sailors on the circuit so I’m hoping the learning curve will be steep but quick and after a couple of events we will be putting in some good results.”
Last year, Oman Air featured Oman’s Olympic hopefuls Hashim Al Rashdi and Musab Al Hadi but in 2015 their focus returns to their 49er campaign while Ali Al Balushi, who made an impressive Extreme 40 debut in Sydney, becomes a regular Oman Air crewmember for all eight Extreme Sailing Series Acts in 2015.
“Being selected as a crewmember on Oman Air in 2015 is an exciting opportunity for me. Racing alongside some of the best sailors on the water and at eight different venues all with varying conditions, I am expecting to learn a lot,” said Al Balushi.
Oman Sail has had a long association with the Extreme Sailing Series, becoming involved in 2008; a year after the circuit was established. In 2009, fielding two boats and highlighting the development aims that are fundamental to their foundation, Oman Sail Masirah skippered by Pete Cummings claimed Oman Sail’s first title win.
Since then, Oman Sail teams have competed every year with The Wave, Muscat being crowned champions in 2012 and again a year later with a host of Omani sailors onboard, in particular the formidable Nasser Al Mashari, furthering their sailing careers through their participation.
Teams and venues of the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series were unveiled at the Dusseldorf Boat Show in Germany today with one change to the schedule: Hamburg in Germany replaces Nice in France as the venue for Act 5 in July 2015.
Extreme Sailing Series ™ 2015 Host Venues:
Act 1: Singapore, 5-8 February
Act 2: Muscat, Oman 11-14 March
Act 3: Qingdao, China 1-4 May
Act 4: Cardiff, UK 18-21 June
Act 5: Hamburg, Germany 23-26 July
Act 6: Saint Petersburg, Russia 20-23 August
Act 7: Istanbul, Turkey 1-4 October
Act 8: Australia 10-13 December
The Wave, Muscat 2015 crew:
Leigh McMillan (GBR)
Nasser Al Mashari (OMA)
Sarah Ayton (GBR)
Pete Greenhalgh (GBR)
Ed Smyth (NZL)
Oman Air 2015 crew:
Stevie Morrison (GBR)
Ali Al Balushi (OMA)
Ted Hackney (AUS)
Other sailors to be announced.
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 eight 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.
To stay up to date: omansail.com
by Daphne Morgan Barnicoat