Extreme Sailing Series : The Wave, Muscat tied in first place &Team Duqm Oman stays strong in the fleet.

Thursday, 07 March 2013

 

Hatches were being battened down and reefs put in as the forecast indicated powerful winds exceeding 20 knots for day two of the Extreme Sailing Series held off The Wave, Muscat. This, plus today’s scheduled change to the stadium sailing racing format, caused crews to leave the dock with trepidation, anticipating a hair raising day ahead.

Hatches were being battened down and reefs put in as the forecast indicated powerful winds exceeding 20 knots for day two of the Extreme Sailing Series held off The Wave, Muscat. This, plus today’s scheduled change to the stadium sailing racing format, caused crews to leave the dock with trepidation, anticipating a hair raising day ahead.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be... As The Wave, Muscat skipper Leigh McMillan described: “It was about 20 knots just before racing started, but then very soon it started shutting down and and we were taking reefs out. It continued to drop as the day went on to absolutely nothing in the end. It was a bit of a surprise - we were expecting the wind to hold for the day.”

Several boats, including The Wave, Muscat, got stuck in a nasty chop, churned up by the morning breeze, as they unwisely ventured out of the bay, with little wind to get them out of trouble. 

With the wind changing so much, experience paid as well as decades spent racing on lakes. As a result the Swiss Alinghi team, with former Oman Air skipper Morgan Larson calling tactics on board, was today’s star performer winning three of the six races. But overall Alinghi remains third with The Wave, Muscat and Red Bull Sailing Team tied on points for first place.

“We caused ourselves a few issues today and we didn’t quite execute as we had hoped in a few situations and that cost us some points,” Leigh McMillan continued. “We are still in the mix at the front - we just have to clean up a couple of scenarios on board, go out tomorrow and have a better day.”

Of his new crew that this season includes two Omani sailors - F18 catamaran expert Musab Al Hadi joining bowman Hashim Al Rashdi, who competed on the season winning The Wave, Muscat team last year - McMillan commented: “They are working really well - working well together and helping each other out. I’m very happy.”

Al Rashdi gave his personal view of today’s racing: “The wind today was tricky, shifting all the time which made the races very challenging. We tried to get good starts but today was a reaching race, so you needed consistency in the wind direction and speed. We tried to do our best and had a number of podium finishes. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s races and we hope the weather conditions improve.”

The changing conditions proved even harder for the newbie team on Team Duqm Oman. Nonetheless on a day when Mother Nature at times turned racing into a lottery, Rob Greenhalgh and his team minimised their losses, ending the day a respectable fourth in the eight boat fleet.

“It was a tough day unfortunately, very very different to yesterday,” said Greenhalgh. “We converted a third to a last thanks to a penalty and in the last race there was no wind.” The penalty was due to a mark rounding incident with Alinghi. Sadly they were unable to finish the final race due to the flat calm.

“It was just a case of getting used to the shifting conditions and the shifting, puffing breeze and the tiny race course,” Greenhalgh continued. “I’m reasonably happy with how it is going. We have had some races which haven’t gone our way, but that was always going to happen.”

Oman’s catamaran expert Nasser Al Mashari, from on board Team Duqm Oman added: “Today's races were very challenging and tricky because of the wind changing its direction and speed. That forced us to keep changing our tactics to improve our position. We did our best, but we didn't have enough luck to boost our position. We still have two days left which means all the chances for change are there."

With the move to stadium racing, today saw the opening of the public village that offered a variety of fun activities for families and children. Among these was the Try Sailing sessions sponsored by Bank Muscat, one of the partners of the event. As part of this 13 children from Zahrat Quraish school were taken out sailing with national X40 sailors Hashim Al Rashdi and Musab Al Hadi from The Wave, Muscat crew.

“I loved going out sailing, it was great fun,” said 12 year old female student Muzna. “Sailing enables me to explore and discover the sea and its secrets, see fish, etc. I learned how to tack and move the rudder and helm the boat. I even wanted to capsize so that I could have a swim! I hope to be a sailor in the future.” 

Al Rashdi said of having the children on board: “I was pleased to go sailing with the kids today. It feels great to be able to pass on the experience I have gained throughout the recent years. They are fast learners and very enthusiastic. I hope to see the next generations of Omani sailors ultimately reaching Olympic and world championship level.”

Public village will continue to be open today and tomorrow when the winners of the first leg of the season will be decided.

Daphne Morgan Barnicoat

See Extreme Sailing Series images 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 07 March 2013 )