Consistency rewards Oman Air in ESS Act 4 opener

MUSCAT: Three podium finishes in six races helped Phil Robertson’s Team Oman Air outfit into third place overall on a tricky opening day to Act 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Barcelona.
Big winds and huge waves yesterday forced the city’s Extreme Sailing Series debut to be postponed until today – but while the wind had dropped the swell remained, creating testing conditions for the fleet of foiling GC32 catamarans. The fickle breeze meant that the smallest of mistakes could be punished severely but Oman Air rose to the challenge with a consistent performance that leaves them well within reach of the top spot with two more days still to go.
“It was a pretty tough day,” conceded New Zealander Robertson, who rejoins his Oman Air team-mates fresh from victories at Match Cup Sweden and the M32 class championship.
“The conditions were pretty challenging for that race course —you’ve got big seas that bounce back off the shore and light airs that make it tactical and challenging, but hopefully it still looks good for the spectator crowds.”
Oman Air, last year’s Extreme Sailing Series runners up, came into the Barcelona event with the goal of rising up the overall tour ranking from their current third position.
And after a strong day today Robertson said the team’s aim of scaling the leaderboard is still very much alive — but that they will have to raise their game a notch if they are to overhaul Act leaders Alinghi.
“Our results today were pretty solid,” he added. “We kept it consistent but it was difficult, that’s for sure. I think Alinghi did a really good job to get the results they got on a day like today and I guess we all have to catch up now.”
Nasser al Mashari, Oman Air’s Omani bowman, said the team would look to replicate their consistency across the remaining two days of action in Barcelona.
“Today was a good day for us with some very consistent results,” he said. “You’ve got to be happy with three podiums in six races, especially when the conditions are so tricky.
“There is a little bit more wind forecast for the weekend, so hopefully we can get foiling, win some races and show the Barcelona crowds what these boats can do.”
Oman Sail’s Flying Phantom crew of Thomas Normand and Ahmed al Hasni go into the penultimate day’s racing aiming to improve on their current position of seventh overall.