Team Oman Air takes a narrow lead at the half-way point in Muscat
Thursday, March 9, 2017 4:54 PM
Concentration, determination and some overnight reflection saw Oman Air scale the heights of the Extreme Sailing Series Act 1 in Muscat at the half-way stage
Following an uncertain opening, day two saw the Oman Air crew hit their stride and notch up a series of results that took them to the top of the leaderboard by the narrowest margin.
At the end of a day shortened to five races in a declining breeze, the Omani-flagged GC32 catamaran had posted 117 points, including a race win, with Red Bull Sailing Team and SAP Extreme Sailing Team snapping at their heels on 116 points.
And to further prove it’s hot at the top, long standing arch-rivals Alinghi were right in touch with 114 points in fourth place.
The nine-strong fleet had exchanged the opening day’s coastal racing in Muttrah – set against a backdrop of Muscat’s sublimely rugged shore - for the high-intensity close quarter action of inshore Stadium Racing.
And the change in venue came along with a change of thinking aboard Oman Air, said veteran Extreme Sailing Series sailor Pete Greenhalgh. “We analysed yesterday a lot and decided we didn’t give ourselves enough time out there to look at the race course and get the boat set up nicely,” the mainsail trimmer and tactician reflected.
“The race officers rattle these races off so you get very, very little time to reset and get calibrated. Added to that, yesterday we had some gear failure a couple of times so it took us a long time to get reset and get back on track.
“We learnt from those lessons, so today we got out there a bit earlier and got more prepared, got the boat set up better, and it seemed to pay off.
“We still made a couple of silly little mistakes - our starting strategy was a bit off a couple of times, and we made one or two tactical mistakes for sure. But everyone makes mistakes – it’s all about recovering from them quickly and decisively.”
Greenhalgh paid tribute to the hard work of both race and shore crew, which he said had been the underlying key to their success today.
Omani bowman Nasser Al Mashari was in full agreement: “The attitude of everyone on board, and all those working behind the scenes, is great.
“We had a great day out there today, so it is good to see that all the hard work is paying off. Hopefully we can keep going over the next two days and put Oman Air on top in Muscat.”
The SAP Extreme Sailing Team again demonstrated they will be formidable opponents in both Act 1 and throughout the long season ahead, posting two wins, while both Red Bull Sailing Team and Alinghi showed dazzling consistency to keep it tight at the top.
Always looking for an extra edge, Greenhalgh thinks Team Oman Air still has room for improvement.
“We will analyse again and look to see where there are some gains to be made, so tomorrow it is front foot forward and look for another good series of results.
“That’s what it is all about, just chipping away and settling in with this shorter course style racing, getting the right strategies and working out what tactics work on the course.
“Having SAP, Red Bull and Alinghi around us is all good, we want that mix at the front – and even these other teams aren’t far behind and plenty of them are capable of getting race wins. It makes for great racing and we’re loving it.”