by Oman Sail
For the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series The Wave, Muscat set out their stall with a second overall place at Singapore having staged a solid and impressive comeback over the four days while Oman Air are already looking ahead to Act two in Muscat next month.
The Extreme Sailing Series 2014. Act 1. Singapore. - Extreme Sailing Series 2014
Despite posting two wins on the final day to bring their total of outright victories to nine from 29 races, Leigh McMillan’s crew on The Wave, Muscat were outflanked by their old rivals Alinghi who clinched the Singapore crown with one race remaining and a gap over the Omani team of 24 points.
But the defending champions, who in 2014 include three new faces in Nasser Al Mashari, Sarah Ayton and Kinley Fowler were nevertheless happy that they managed to claw back enough points to finish on the podium following a rusty start to their regatta.
'It’s great to be on the podium this early in the season,' said McMillan. 'Our aim for this event was a top three so we are thrilled to get off to a good start for the series – there are going to be some really difficult events and a range of different conditions coming up, but right now we are looking forward to a home game in Oman next month at The Wave, Muscat and we will all be putting our heads down to work out what we can do better next time.'
In her first Extreme 40 event, double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton, trimmer on The Wave, Muscat, said it felt great to be part of a successful crew. 'I am really happy to be back on the podium….that is what I’m used to!' she joked.
'We went into today in second place and did enough to stay in second place. Singapore has been really tricky so we are pretty pleased with the result.
'It’s been a pleasure sailing with the boys – we have got stronger and stronger and I’ve really enjoyed it. Our teamwork is good – this is a team sport and the way in which you make decisions is crucial and that was really solid so you can’t ask for more. Hopefully in Muscat we can take it one step further.'
McMillan was quick to raise a flag to land a penalty on Emirates Team New Zealand in the final race that helped to seal their runners up position. This, said bowman Nasser Al Mashari, spoke volumes about their competitive spirit.
'We fought and fought until the last moment and had some luck in the final race so finished in second place and were very happy,' he said. 'We are now looking forward to going to our home waters in Oman and hopefully we can improve on our performances in Singapore.'
Heavy gusts were once again a feature on the racetrack, forcing a string of errors and close calls but there were no major collisions and despite the damage caused in the pile up on Saturday, all 12 boats made it to the start line on Sunday.
The new team on Oman Air, skippered by British skipper Rob Greenhalgh, finished in ninth place overall on equal points with Team Gazprom Russia but with just 33 points separating fourth from ninth in the fleet, the signs for incremental gains were encouraging, Greenhalgh said.
'I was pretty happy with our performance but there is a lot to improve on,' he said. 'We know our weaknesses and are already looking ahead to racing in home waters in Oman and having a better result there. We need to work on our starts - if we can improve those we will be in good shape because our boat handling is not too bad and our speeds are pretty good.
'We had some good results and some bad ones and we were dealt some bad luck at times but it is the same for all teams.
'It has been spectacular here in Singapore – racing has been tight and difficult and a bit fluky but there have been enough races to average things out so for the series and for our sponsor Oman Air it’s been a great event and we are looking forward to the rest of the season.'
For the Omani sailors, role models back home, Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Muscat is one of the highlights of the year and Musab al Hadi on Oman Air is counting down the days to March 19 when everyone assembles at The Wave, Muscat for the next round.
'Act 1 was tough for us. We are a new team and there were a lot crashes but we are looking ahead to Oman and taking all the positives from here so we can improve our performances in Muscat. We are excited about racing in front of our home crowds.'