Oman Air’s podium position in Cardiff keeps bid for Extreme Sailing Series title on track
Monday, August 28, 2017 9:20 PM
The podium performance in the Welsh capital means they are in second place in the overall season standings with six of the eight Acts completed, just two points behind SAP Extreme Sailing Team who won in Cardiff.
However, the Phil Robertson skippered Oman Air crew of Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari, James Wierzbowski and Ed Smyth hold a three-point advantage over defending Extreme Sailing Series champions Alinghi, behind them in third place.
Omani bowman Al Mashari said the team remain positive heading into the final quarter of the season.
“Cardiff was a very hard event with light winds, very shifty conditions, and we learnt a lot,” he said.
“We were third here but there are two more to go, and we will be trying to win the next event. We have finished third before and then come back and won the next Act, so I am sure we can achieve more at our next event in San Diego.”
Extreme Sailing Series veteran Greenhalgh has the experience to know that small changes can reap great rewards, and says the Oman Air team will be fighting all the way for the title.
“There are two more Acts to go, and the last one in Mexico is double points, so there is even more to play for this year.
“We have sailed in Cardiff plenty of times before, but this time we were seeing the wind oscillating 50 to 60 degrees, which is fairly major, and it can happen in 30 seconds, so you can find yourself exactly where you don’t want to be, but that is the nature of the beast.
“We definitely weren’t sailing our best here, we were just missing a few things tactically, but we will improve our communication on the boat a bit and then the results will just start to slot in.”
Oman Air went in to the Cardiff Act following back-to-back wins in Barcelona and Hamburg and tied on points with Danish entry SAP at the top of the season table.
Sunshine and hot conditions delighted thousands of UK bank holiday spectators lining the shoreline around the Cardiff Bay stadium race course, but a generally light wind meant only 14 races were sailed over the four-day event, with several unpredictable results among them.
The global Extreme Sailing Series returns to action in San Diego, California, in October, then concludes in Los Cabos, Mexico, at the beginning of December.
In the Flying Phantom Series, the Oman Sail team of skipper Thomas Normand and crew Antoine Joubert kept their best until last, winning the double-points last race in Cardiff, which was also the final contest of the whole season
Overall the team – which had included Omani sailor Ahmed Al Hasni at earlier Acts – finished in a highly competitive fourth place in the 13-strong fleet.
“It has been a good season for us, and it would be great to come back and challenge for a podium place next year,” said Normand.
“Ahmed was able to learn a great deal in a short time with the team, the Flying Phantoms have been a strong platform for development.”