MUSCAT: A world-class display of racing saw Team Oman Air rocket to the top of the Barcelona scoreboard on the penultimate day of the fourth round of the Extreme Sailing Series.
After heading back to the dock in third place yesterday, skipper Phil Robertson and his crew were determined to crank up the dial on their performance — and they did so in abundance, winning the day with an extraordinary set of results.
Oman Air only finished outside of the podium once in ten epic races held in perfect foiling conditions, notching up three wins, three seconds and three thirds in the process.
The team’s longstanding tactician Pete Greenhalgh, the Extreme Sailing Series’ most decorated athlete, consistently placed his crew in the perfect position to make the most of the reaching starts that proved so crucial to success.
Team Oman Air now go into the final day of Act 4 in pole position, six points ahead of closest rivals Red Bull Sailing Team from Austria and ten in front of Denmark’s SAP Extreme Sailing Team.
Swiss Extreme Sailing Series defender Alinghi, the overnight leaders, dropped out of the podium spots after an uncharacteristically inconsistent day on the water.
Robertson praised his team of Greenhalgh, Nasser al Mashari, Ed Smyth and James Wierzbowski for executing the perfect starts that proved so important.
“We got ourselves out of third position — that was the goal for the day,” the 30-year-old New Zealander said. “We didn’t do anything special, we kept it pretty simple, but our starting was on point.” “That is the key with reaching starts — if you can get to mark one in good shape then you’re doing well. We had our timing spot on and our speed on the reaches was really nice. That gave us a good position to take the race from there.”
Despite the narrow points buffer at the top of the table, Robertson said Team Oman Air would be taking nothing for granted when they get on the water tomorrow for the big showdown of Act 4 which includes the final double points-scoring race.
Al Mashari, Oman Air’s bowman, agreed: “Hopefully we’ll have more of the same tomorrow, but it’s a new day. The points moved massively today and we could easily do another ten-race day, so we have to come in fresh tomorrow and hope to find the same form. We really showed what Team Oman Air are capable of and we need to make sure that we take our form into tomorrow’s finale!”
Oman Sail’s Flying Phantom crew go into tomorrow’s finale, a precursor to the GC32 stadium racing, in sixth place but with just one point between them and fourth place.