Extreme Sailing Series : The Wave, Muscat as Team Duqm Oman defends fourth into final day of racing

Thursday, 07 March 2013

With the onset of the Omani weekend, thousands of spectators crammed the beach off The Wave, Muscat for the penultimate day of Extreme Sailing Series racing.

With the onset of the Omani weekend, thousands of spectators crammed the beach off The Wave, Muscat for the penultimate day of Extreme Sailing Series racing.

For a second day in a row the wind was light, never rising above seven knots before dying completely. However it was enough time for the Extreme 40s to sail eight races. Unfortunately for The Wave, Muscat team, the lake-like conditions favoured the teams from landlocked countries. The team started today level on points with Red Bull Sailing Team, but the Austrians had an immaculate day, and start tomorrow’s grand finale 15 points ahead.

"Today was a difficult day for us,” admitted The Wave, Muscat’s Omani bowman, Hashim Al Rashdi. “We made some unsuccessful decisions which affected our position and widened the gap between ourselves and Red Bull Sailing Team. Tomorrow we are looking to avoid making any mistakes and improve our tactics in order to win the last races."

Added to their difficulties Ernesto Bertarelli and his Swiss crew aboard Alinghi are challenging The Wave, Muscat’s second position. Thankfully the Omani team ended the day on a high: after a slow to start in the final race, they pulled through the fleet finishing just ahead of their Swiss rivals, to maintain a three point lead going into tomorrow’s final races.

For the three Omani crew – bowman Hashim Al Rashdi and 5th man Musab Al Hadi on The Wave, Muscat and Nasser Al Mashari aboard Team Duqm Oman – competing in front of their homecrowd, demonstrating their skill as elite yachtsmen to their family, friends and fans, is understandably a very special moment, the highlight of their season before the Extreme Sailing Series moves on to the Far East, back to Europe and ending up in Brazil.

“I'm very happy to sail in front of in a crowd of thousands of Omanis who attended the event today,” said Al Mashri. “Their presence encourages us to exert ourselves all the more. We are looking to see them all come back to support us tomorrow to help us make it to the podium."

Al Mashri won this regatta last year competing with Morgan Larson on Oman Air. His ex-skipper is now on Alinghi, and Team Duqm Oman is gunning for tomorrow, in third place, 30 points ahead of them.

Team Duqm Oman managed to keep it together today to maintain fourth place despite the tough conditions. “It was very very light today,” confirmed skipper Rob Greenhalgh. “I guess it is about practice in those conditions, but it is the same for everyone - any little mistakes make a big difference. It was enjoyable, tense racing. We hung in there and had our ups and downs as did everyone.”

Nasser Al Mashari added: “We were lucky at some points today to gain us valuable points. On the other hand, the wind we came across on some areas of the race course was almost dead and this gave other boats the opportunity to move ahead of us.”  

Considering that the three teams ahead of them come with considerably more experience in the Extreme Sailing Series, Greenhalgh is satisfied with their progress. “They’ve been doing this for years. We have been doing this for one event. I think we can learn a lot and take a lot forward to another event if we get to do one.”

Greenhalgh confirms that on board Team Duqm Oman, the new crew is gelling. Reflecting on bowman Al Mashari’s performance, the three time Volvo Ocean Race sailor and multiple world champion commented: “Nasser is awesome. He’s head down, does his job very very well.”

 The Omani teams are keeping their fingers crossed that tomorrow Mother Nature will deliver more breeze, but more important is that as many fans as possible line the beach at The Wave, Muscat tomorrow to encourage them on.

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.

Daphne Morgan Barnicoat

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 07 March 2013 )