Muscat: Team Oman Air took a step towards their Extreme Sailing Series season goal with a strong performance on the opening day of their latest encounter on America’s west coast. In variable and sometimes unpredictable wind conditions in San Diego, California, on Thursday, the crew of the high-speed GC32 foiling catamaran finished the first of four days in second place, ahead of some of their key rivals in the overall standings. With only one race result off a podium place, the Oman Air crew of skipper Phil Robertson, Pete Greenhalgh, Stewart Dodson, James Wierzbowski and Nasser al Mashari showed real consistency to secure the start they needed.
With only San Diego and then the final event in Mexico to go, the team are third in the season overall and working to close the gap on leaders Alinghi and the second placed SAP Extreme Sailing Team. “It was a tricky day — a couple of times we were leading races and the situation changed so we had to adapt quickly,” said Greenhalgh, Oman Air’s mainsail trimmer. “We were sailing well though and happy with what we were doing, and we were getting some good starts and getting the boat going. “As ever, there are areas where we can be better, but it’s good to be second at this stage. We have just got to keep on making good decisions and hopefully that will help us come out on top.”
Racing in the narrow confines of North San Diego Bay near the man-made Harbor Island adjacent to downtown San Diego, the day saw close-quarter sailing where positions could quickly change in the seven-strong fleet. However, the Swiss team on Alinghi demonstrated the form which has put them on top of the season leaderboard, taking four wins in the six races sailed to lead the San Diego Act on 68 points. SAP Extreme Sailing Team started with a race victory but then faded, to finish the opening day in third place four points behind Oman Air who have 60.