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Sultanate of Oman maintains overall lead of 2015 Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour
Sultanate of Oman maintained its position as overall leaders of the 2015 Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour despite a last minute change to the crew and gear failure on the boat which forced it out of the final race in the Cowes Cup.

The injury to skipper Leigh McMillan during Thursday’s last race turned out to be more serious than first thought and he was ruled out of the remaining races in Cowes with a broken hand.

Paul Campbell-James, who skippered Oman Sail’s The Wave, Muscat to victory in the 2010 Extreme Sailing Series, stepped in to replace McMillan as Sultanate of Oman helmsman both today and for the JP Morgan Round the Island Race on Saturday.

Campbell-James is no stranger to foiling on a GC32 and over the past few weeks has been training in the Solent on an AC45 as a member of Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup team.

The crew had an ‘up and down’ day with a superb win in the second race and a further podium place in the mix. A broken winch ruled them out of the last race, but they were happy to have secured second overall, runners up to Cowes Cup winners Armin Strom.

“It was a really fun day,” said Campbell-James, who was accompanied by regular crewmembers Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari, Ed Smyth and Alister Richardson.

“This was my first time racing GC32s in a decent breeze and obviously my first time racing the boat with these guys. We got a penalty in the first race, won the second and made a mistake in the third but we were always in there fighting and finished second so were pretty pleased with that. Smiles all round.”

“We are getting there and hopefully we can get a jump on everyone tomorrow when we go round the Isle of Wight.”

Sultanate of Oman’s performances over the first two days safeguarded their position as 2015 Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour leaders with a three point lead over Armin Strom and according to trimmer Pete Greenhalgh, their steady improvement was the most exciting aspect of their Cowes Cup participation.

“These boats are serious bits of kit and we are still beginners, finding our way around the boat in the different conditions,” he said.

“Today, we had around 15 knots of breeze and saw 36 knots of speed but most of the day, we were doing more than 30 which was a lot of fun. As a crew, we feel there is a lot more to come.”

Between them, Oman Sail’s professional Sultanate of Oman crew have dozens of Round the Island Races under their belt and for Omani Nasser Al Mashari, the 2015 edition will be his second, having previously competed on an Extreme 40.

“We will be looking closely at the forecast tonight but could find anything from 10 to 20 knots to contend with but it will be fun going round on foils and I am really looking forward to it,” he said.

Leigh McMillan who was born on the Isle of Wight and has competed in a succession of Round the Island Races since he was a child will be watching from the sidelines but is confident the Sultanate of Oman will finish fairly early.

“I am very disappointed not to be taking part but am concentrating on my recovery and getting back into action as soon as possible,” he said.

“The boat is in good hands and I shall look forward to seeing them fly across the finish line well ahead of everyone else.”

Photo : Lloyd Images
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