Extreme Sailing Series : The Wave, Muscat continues its winning streak

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

Having won the Extreme Sailing Series in 2012, the defending champion, The Wave, Muscat, laid down a marker today, winning the opening races of the 2013 series, held out of the Omani venue carrying their boat’s name.

Having won the Extreme Sailing Series in 2012, the defending champion, The Wave, Muscat, laid down a marker today, winning the opening races of the 2013 series, held out of the Omani venue carrying their boat’s name.

In seven races run, The Omani team won three, to take the overall lead after day one. However it was also a good day for double Olympic Tornado Gold medallist Roman Hagara on Red Bull Sailing Team, which now trails The Wave, Muscat’s skipper Leigh McMillan in second place by just one point.

“It went pretty well - a solid opening day,” commented McMillan. “It was really fantastic sailing conditions on a more normal race course, upwind-downwind in 15 knots – it doesn’t get much better. It was pretty exciting and the racing was really close and we enjoyed it. It was a fantastic opening day in Muscat.”

Conditions started out at 11 knots and built to 16 throughout the afternoon. “It gave everyone a chance to warm up in the breeze and get used to it,” said McMillan. “We had a bit of space so it wasn’t too close or too crash-bang. It was a good opener for everyone trying to get going.”

The only change for 2013 on The Wave, Muscat is that there is now a second Omani sailor on board. Racing with McMillan and old hands Peter Greenhalgh and Ed Smyth is once again bowman Hashim Al Rashdi, but new in the ‘5th man’ slot is Musab Al Hadi, Oman’s leading F18 catamaran sailor, for whom today was nerve racking in his first ever day of Extreme Sailing Series racing.

“It was my first day ever in the Extreme fleet, and what a day it was! The wind conditions were fantastic today and they helped intensify the competition. This is a great and exciting opportunity for me and every one in the team has been very supportive. I look forward to the next race and I will continue doing my level best to see a podium in our home waters.”

Al Rashdi, having sailed on board for a season already, is showing Al Hadi the ropes and says the new boy is getting on just fine: “He is at home. He is the right man for the job. He is a really good sailor.”

Personally Al Rashdi believes his own confidence on board has improved since the last Act of 2012 in Rio and he was pleased The Wave, Muscat had got off to such a good start here in Muscat. “We had a really good day. We won the day and we won the first race of the 2013 Extreme Sailing Series, so I am very happy. We had 14-15 knots and it was quite wavy but I think our boat handling is good. We had a great day today.”

While The Wave, Muscat is the favourite going into the Extreme Sailing Series this year, the second Omani  entry Team Duqm Oman making, racing as an invitational team, was much more of an unknown. Greenhalgh may be one of Britain’s most experienced all-round sailors but it has been some time since he won the first season of the Extreme Sailing Series and was runner-up in its second. 

“I think it has evolved quite a bit,” said Greenhalgh of how the circuit has evolved in the intervening five years. “The teams are quite a bit more competitive now, so it is just about getting used to it again. We had a good day. It wasn’t the easiest opening day. It was quite breezy - up to 18 knots and a very small course and quite choppy, testing conditions.”

However hardest for Greenhalgh is competing alongside four crew he’s never sailed with before, although this includes both Will Howden and Oman’s Nasser Al Mashari, who competed on Oman Air, finishing second overall last season.  

Despite the excuses Team Duqm Oman performed well and ends the opening day fourth overall, but tied on points with Alinghi in third. “We are pretty happy with how we got on. We have got room to improve, but there’s plenty to come,” said Greenhalgh.

“To be honest we had no expectations. I think we’d be upset if we were seventh or eighth, so we are happy with today - we have got some good results, including four thirds today. In the first two races we were sixth and seventh when we were finding our feet. But most of it is just me seeing how races unfold and how people get around the race course these days.”

Tomorrow racing continues with stadium racing off The Wave, Muscat beach with the start of the public village where families and children will get an opportunity to experience a variety of fun activates while supporting the national teams.

 Daphne Morgan Barnicoat

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Editors note:

Oman Sail is a national initiative established in 2008 to contribute to the development of Oman and Omanis through the sport of sailing. 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 30,000 Omani children to sail by 2015 at seven sailing schools to be built along the coast. 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.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 March 2013 )