Oman Air lay foundations for gripping duel in final must win Sydney Extreme Sailing campaign
Thursday, December 8, 2016 10:28 AM
Oman Air lay foundations for gripping duel in final ‘must win’ Sydney Extreme Sailing campaign
Oman Air made a flying start to their final bid for championship honours on a wild and windy day in Sydney to lay the foundations for a gripping duel with rival Alinghi in the ‘winner takes all’ 2016 Extreme Sailing Series finals.
A forecast for high winds with strong gusts across Sydney Harbour proved spot on but when the breeze continued to build throughout the day, resulting in two of the GC32 boats capsizing - thankfully without any injury to the sailors – the racing schedule was shortened with three races completed.
By then Oman Air, helmed by Morgan Larson had posted their first outright win of the event securing victory over Alinghi by an emphatic 30 second margin to add to a podium place in the opening race of the day.
It left them in second place overall on the leaderboard, with just three points separating them from leaders Alinghi which, according to Larson, signalled a good start to their Sydney campaign.
“This was a great start though it was unfortunate that we only got three races in but that’s life,” he said.
“We sailed quite well – gave up a few points at the finish of the first two races which is a shame but we are close to Alinghi so that’s ok.
“These were top end conditions – the windiest we have sailed the boats but the water was flat and the racing was good. We had about 25 knots of wind which took us all right to the edge but because the water was flat, the speeds were high and control was pretty good.”
Top speeds were recorded at more than 34 knots which made for some exhilarating action, particularly between the leading title contenders Oman Air, Alinghi and Red Bull and with the remaining three days promising lively conditions, the prospects for a good contest are exciting.
“It was a very good opening day and we did a pretty good job,” said Nasser Al Mashari, Oman’s powerhouse bowman.
“Our aim is to beat Alinghi here in Sydney and we are close on points at the end of day one. They are a very strong team and it will take everything that we have got to get ahead.
“The forecast for the next three days is for a little less wind but we should get some good competition.”
Racing in Sydney continues tomorrow and through to Sunday, culminating in a double points final race which could decide the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series title after a year long campaign.
Online coverage will continue on Friday at www.extremesailingseries.com with Twitter updates and real-time 3D visuals, live leader boards and vital statistics such as average and top speeds, distance sailed and number of manoeuvres performed.
Racing will be streamed live on the official website and YouTube channel from 15:30 – 17:00 local time (GMT+11) on 10 and 11 December.