Oman Air achieve podium after 11th-hour comeback

MUSCAT: Team Oman Air pulled off an incredible comeback to score their second podium finish of the season in a thrilling finale to Act 2 in Qingdao, China. The Omani-flagged crew, this year led by New Zealand skipper Phil Robertson, jumped three places up the leaderboard to finish in third thanks to a stunning last-day performance on the waters of Fushan Bay.
With the wind ranging from eight to 18 knots — a welcome change after three days of lighter breeze — Oman Air upped their game and notched up three vital wins from seven races including the final double-pointer.
The timely resurgence saw them finish on equal points with Act 1 winners SAP Extreme Sailing Team, but their final-race victory allowed them to snatch the final podium spot from their Danish rivals on countback.
Oman Air shared the podium with Act winners Alinghi, from Switzerland, and second-placed British crew Land Rover BAR Academy.
“I can’t imagine a better result than that, we pulled the rabbit out of the hat,” a relieved Robertson said. “We were sixth overall for most of the day and managed to pull it together for the last few races. We managed to win the last two including the double-pointer and it all fell into place for us. We’re pretty happy with third overall.”
The result sees Oman Air consolidate their third place on the overall Series leaderboard, with just a two-point gap between them and first-placed Alinghi after two Acts and with six still remaining.
“We’re only a couple of points behind Alinghi overall, and it’s really just the start of the season,” Robertson added. “It’s going to be a long, hard series against some good teams and everyone will be moving up and down the leaderboard. We’re happy with where we are right now.” Nasser Al Mashari, Oman Air’s Omani bowman, said the team’s ability to come back from sixth overall to end on the podium was testament to how solid they are as a group. He said the team would make sure they come out of the blocks quicker when racing resumes in Madeira next month.