by Oman Sail
At Act 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series in St Petersburg, a perfect show was laid on with bright sunshine, excited crowds and a lively breeze which propelled Oman Air up the leaderboard and The Wave, Muscat into a position of strength to make a bid for the first ever Russian title in the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series.
2014 Extreme Sailing Series, Act 4 - Oman Air
It proved a roller coaster day for both Oman Sail teams with a full programme of ten races producing seven podium places in total though on this rare occasion, no outright win.
An eight-knot westerly saw the entire fleet fly their hulls for the first time this week which drew gasps from crowds of spectators watching Extreme 40 racing from the beach for the first time.
Rob Greenhalgh’s Oman Air rose two places on the leaderboard after posting three second places while The Wave, Muscat maintained superb consistency with seven top four places in ten races to finish the day 12 points behind leaders Alinghi.
A last place in the final race cost them vital points but skipper Leigh McMillan was confident another strong day tomorrow would keep them in contention.
2014 Extreme Sailing Series, Act 4 - The Wave, Muscat skipper Leigh McMillan (GBR)
'We are sailing really well but the last race nailed us,' said McMillan.
'We had to change our start plans at the last minute and it unfolded really badly for us so that was it, race over. It is still close enough but it would have been nice to be level pegging going into the last day.'
'If we can nail the start in the first race tomorrow, there is everything to play for. Two good races and it will be very exciting. It could even be a photo finish.'
Greenhalgh who formed the Oman Air team at the start of the 2014 season was happy with the team’s performance that has left them in sixth place on the leaderboard.
'We felt before today that we were in the mix but today we started well and picked our way through the fleet,' he said.
'There isn’t very much wind but as a team we are getting better and better in all conditions. Even at the end of the year we will still be a new team but the more integrated you are as a team, the better the results and we are seeing progress.'
2014 Extreme Sailing Series, Act 4
His Omani crewmates Hashim Al Rashdi and Musab Al Hadi were already looking towards tomorrow to close the seven point gap between Oman Air and fifth placed SAP Extreme Sailing Team.
'We are expecting even more wind tomorrow so it could be interesting but there is no predicting what will happen. We will be aiming to beat our best result of the series so far which was sixth in Qingdao,' said Al Rashdi.
The Oman Sail racing teams were not the only ones to be on tenterhooks going into the final day. The shore crew, who are a vital part of the Extreme 40 campaign, were waiting to see if they had landed Land Rover’s Above and Beyond Award for the second consecutive time.
Hilal Al Zadjali, Joe Lees and Suleiman Al Manji won the inaugural award made for good examples of skills, sportsmanship and strength of mind at Act 3 in Qingdao last month and were eligible again in St Petersburg. The winner will be announced tomorrow.
Racing in Act 4 St Petersburg continues tomorrow with live commentary from 0800GMT/1000 CET and live video from 1200 GMT/1400 CET at Extreme Sailing Series.