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Home waters for Oman Sail's GC32 Sultanate of Oman crew
Leigh McMillan's new look crew on Oman Sail's GC32 Sultanate of Oman were flying their hulls in home waters on the Solent today adding a fresh 'ocean wave' dimension to their steep learning curve in how to win on foils

With a victory in Austria under their belts last month, when the race course was a tranquil Alpine lake, Sultanate of Oman and the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour fleet, were confronted by tricky tides and a 13 knot breeze on one of the world's most challenging race tracks.

McMillan, who learned to sail on the Solent after being born and brought up on the Isle of Wight, knew what to expect but he and his crew of Nasser Al Mashari, Ed Smyth, Peter Greenhalgh and Alister Richardson were still tested by the conditions.

"It was home waters for us and it was great fun being on familiar waters but the tide was a massive factor and limited our opportunities to overtake, especially later in the day but it was great to be back on the Solent," said McMillan who posted two outright victories in six races on the first of the four day event.

"It was a tricky start to the day because the wind was marginal for foiling, the tide was building up and there seemed to be a lot of weed wrapped around the foils but we had some good battles in first couple of races and one great foiling race."

But the swift change from Extreme 40 Racing - where the same crew swept to victory on The Wave, Muscat at the Extreme Sailing Series in Cardiff for the third consecutive year - to GC32 racing proved to be challenging.

"Our starts let us down which cost us quite badly in the later races. Our communication was not as good as normal and we need to work on getting everyone in the right place for the start and getting the power on more quickly but we should be better tomorrow."

"We are still learning but we are not too far off the pace. If we can get the starts right, we can win races and there is a long way to go."

By the close, Sultanate of Oman were sitting in fourth place, three points adrift from leaders Armin Strom Sailing Team with three days of racing still remaining.

For Nasser Al Mashari, the challenge is on to master the GC32 in all conditions and today on the Solent represented good progress for the team.

"This is a good fleet and so we are learning a lot from everyone. Hopefully we can get our starts right tomorrow and work our way up the leaderboard."

Photo : Lloyd Images
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