Extreme Sailing Series Act 1 - Tied at the top

Act 1, Muscat - Day 1 - Oman Air - Extreme Sailing Series 2012
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2012 award winning global tour kicked off today, 28th February, with Act 1 in Muscat, Oman. Losing a crew over the side hardly broke the stride of Oman Air, sharing the top of the leaderboard with French favourites Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.

American Morgan Larson, new skipper of Oman Air, had an incredible start to his Extreme Sailing Series career on the opening day of Act 1. The forty-year-old, a passionate surfer, who lives in Oregon, USA, has an outstanding sporting CV including three America’s Cup campaigns and six World Championship titles but few pundits would have predicted the outcome today which resulted in Oman Air sharing the top of the leaderboard after six races alongside pre-season favourites Groupe Edmond de Rothschild: 'I didn’t really know what to expect to be honest. I know there are a lot of talented teams but I think the format of the sailing suits my style.' Modest on the day but when pushed there is an underlying confidence: 'I believe we can win this, but we need podium positions at every event.'

Tomorrow the eight-boat Extreme 40 fleet will race in stadium mode inside the breakwater, surrounded by the outstanding residential development known as The Wave and home to Oman Sail. Watch the racing live online from 1130 GMT for the next three days.

Act 1, Muscat - Day 1 - Groupe Edmond de Rothschild - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

The question everyone is asking here – who will win this season? The French team skippered by Pierre Pennec is renowned for their form and have been overall runners-up for the past two years. 'We won the event last year and it’s always good to ‘mark’ your territory so to be competitive 100% on day one is good,' said trimmer Hervé Cunningham. On paper, this is the team to watch. Available online tomorrow, Daily Sail editor, James Boyd’s, 2012 form guide.

It was Leigh McMillan and his crew on The Wave, Muscat who scored first blood in the first race of the day. The conditions may not have been challenging with the breeze ranging from 6-10 knots throughout the afternoon and it wasn’t long before Pennec’s team took control to win the next two races. Race four delivered the drama of the day when Oman Air fifth crew member Max Bulger went over the side. 'He somehow hung on to the rudder! I have seen a lot of people fall over board but I have never seen anyone hang on the way he hung on, it was quite impressive,' said Larson. He was quickly retrieved and Larson’s team of Will Howden, Charlie Ogletree and Nasser Al Mashari managed to regain their lead to win the race.

The new team on the Extreme Sailing Series circuit, Team Trifork, had their taste of their first real Extreme 40 competition and the Danish-led team loved it: 'Difficult, lot of learning but lot of fun! We finished third in one of the races and we were in the fight all the time,' said co-skipper Jes Gram-Hansen.

GAC Pindar, skippered by match racing supremo Ian Williams, were the new kids on the block last year but a year on and they are now contenders, ending the first day third on the leaderboard.

Act 1, Muscat - Day 1 - Fleet - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 1, Muscat, Oman standings after Day 1, 6 races (28.2.12)
Position / Team / Points
1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Hervé Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Adeline Chatenet 36 points
2nd Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree, Nasser Al Mashari, Max Bulger 36 points
3rd GAC Pindar (GBR) Ian Williams / Mark Ivey / Mark Bulkeley, Adam Piggot / Andrew Walsh 34 points
4th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Ed Smyth, Pete Greenhalgh, Hashim Al Rashdi, Rachel Williamson 30 points
5th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Matthew Adams, Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche 26 points
6th ZouLou (FRA) Loick Peyron, Philippe Mourniac, Jean-Sébastien Ponce, Bruno Jeanjean, Antoine Joubert 22 points
7th Alinghi (SUI), Ernesto Bertarelli, Tanguy Cariou, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey, Pierre-Yves Jorand 17 points
8th Team Trifork (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Kostner, Pete Cumming, Simon Hiscocks, Jonas Hviid 15 points

Act 1, Muscat - Day 1 - GAC Pindar - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

Skipper quotes:
Ian Williams, skipper, GAC Pindar: 'We really targeted trying to get the boat in the top three so it’s a great start and we’re in third place not too far behind the leaders. The preparation this year has been much better, the boat is in better condition and the crew have been in training leading up to this so we’re feeling much more settled. The goal is to be inside the top five all the time and that’s what we’ve got to do going forward.'

Hervé Cunningham, trimmer, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild: 'We’re pretty happy, we didn’t know where we were this morning in terms of performance of the boat and some crew changes so at the end of the day we are tied first with Oman Air so we’re pretty happy. Oman Air did a really, really good job. I know Morgan Larson and his crew and they are really good, so no surprises. We won the event last year and it’s always good to ‘mark’ your territory so to be competitive 100% on day one is good.'

Jes Gram-Hansen, co-skipper, Team Trifork: 'Difficult, lot of learning but lot of fun! We finished third in one of the races and we were in the fight all the time. The starting is the hardest point right as it’s quite different from the monohulls I have raced in my life.'

Act 1, Muscat - Day 1 - Oman Air / Morgan Larson - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

Morgan Larson, skipper, Oman Air: 'I didn’t really know what to expect to be honest. I knew there are a lot of talented teams but I think the format of the sailing suits my style so I knew that would help a little but we have a long way to go that’s for sure. The race we won Max slipped off at the bottom mark, and he somehow hung on to the rudder! I have seen a lot of people fall over board but I have never seen anyone hang on the way he hung on, it was quite impressive. That was key to the day really, otherwise we could have been an eight point swing and wouldn’t be in the position we are in at the end of today.'

Alinghi - Extreme Sailing Series 2012. Act 1.The Wave Muscat. Oman

Act 1, Muscat - Day 1 - Alinghi / Ernesto Bertarelli - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

Act 1, Muscat - Day 1 - ZouLou / Antoine Joubert - Extreme Sailing Series 2012

Extreme Sailing Series website
http://www.sail-world.com/94419