Oman Air move into second in Madeira

MUSCAT: The Oman Air Extreme Sailing Series team consolidated its position on day two of racing in Madeira, climbing the leaderboard to second place as the tour’s big-hitters fought to gain supremacy. The top three teams at the regatta’s halfway stage — the Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team, Oman Air, and Swiss reigning champions Alinghi — shared all eight of the day’s race wins between them, SAP and Oman Air taking three apiece.
Phil Robertson’s crew was able to move into their strong position after putting together a string of first and second placed results to finish the day on 142 points overall — six behind the impressively consistent SAP team, and four ahead of Alinghi.
“Our first couple of races were not too good, and we were over the line in the first one and had a bad start in the next, so we had to fight our way back,” said Oman Air tactician and mainsail trimmer Pete Greenhalgh, who welcomed a more consistent breeze at what can be a tricky race venue.
“From there on we had some really good starts and were able to convert them into good results — we really tightened our act up. It is good to be up with SAP and Alinghi and it is going to be really tight with them, no question. Everybody is sailing really well.”
In what is becoming a tight-knit crew, Greenhalgh and Robertson are closely in tune with experienced Omani bowman Nasser al Mashari and Oman Air regulars James Wierzbowski and Ed Smyth, on bow and headsail duties respectively aboard the high-speed foiling catamarans.
Al Mashari said: “We have moved up the leaderboard and we had three good wins today and three second places as well. The crew is working very well together.
“The SAP team has got a bit of a lead, but there are two more days to go and if we keep on sailing as well as we know we can, we will close the gap, and hopefully overtake them.”
Madeira has also seen some strong performances from the supposed ‘junior’ teams, with the young guns on NZ Extreme Sailing Team in particular starting strongly only to fade a little later to finish the day in fourth place, a little adrift of the hard-charging leaders.
Earlier in the day as a warm up to the Extreme Sailing event, the Flying Phantom Series delivered some more high-speed foiling action by the two-handed catamarans. Led by skipper Thomas Normand, the new Oman Sail entry to the circuit, put in a string of strong performances to end the day seventh in the 12-strong international fleet.