In the Extreme Sailing Series, The Wave, Muscat made a determined comeback on the second day to jump six places on the leaderboard while the new team on Oman Air were caught out by big gusts that wreaked havoc among the fleet.
After a quiet opener to Act 1, Leigh McMillan’s team arrived on the race course today with a new energy and enjoying the fresher breeze, immediately clocked two outright victories which later became three when they pipped Alinghi to the post in the final race.
Facing complicated wind patterns, created by the skyscrapers around Marina Bay which meant wind holes on some parts of the course and 25 knot gusts on others, they saw and read the shifts more clearly than rivals and managed to take control of the favoured side of the course to consistently hold the advantage.
Of the six races completed, the Omani boat won three of them and were on the podium for another two, signalling a rising dynamic in McMillan’s new look team and an appetite for a third consecutive championship title.
It also signalled a cool head when the pressure is on – Alinghi recovered well from a near capsize, boats were flying hulls all around the course, Groupama found themselves disqualified and Oman Air was unable to avoid a crash with Swiss boat Realstone in the penultimate race of the day.
Sarah Ayton, a new The Wave, Muscat crewmember with a gold tinted Olympic career behind her said the disappointment of the first day had led them to make some changes for day two, which had worked.
Extreme Sailing Series Act 1 - The Wave Muscat’s Sarah Ayton (GBR) - © Lloyd Images
'We learned a lot yesterday and had an evening to reflect so came up with some things we would do differently and as a team, we executed those things well and had a really good day,' she said.
'The tempo in the team was energetic and we are working well together. By the end, my arms are going to be a couple of inches longer because there are so many races but the plan is to take one race at a time. Try to be there or thereabouts in our results and not aim too high.'
Another new team member Nasser Al Mashari from Oman was confident they could take their success into the third day where conditions are forecast to be similar. 'We are happy with what we did today,' he said. 'We had more breeze and hopefully we can continue tomorrow. We were disappointed yesterday but today we performed more as we know we can and came up with the goods.'
Skipper Leigh McMillan was also upbeat about performances saying his new team were clicking as a smart, tidy and hungry unit. 'It was another really tough day – difficult conditions with some terrific gusts and close moments on the race course but we had a better day and managed to climb up the board a little,' he said.
'We are learning how to race as a new team – the communication and the dynamic is brand new but we made some big steps forward today. The guys did a fantastic job but there are still improvements to be made.'
The Wave, Muscat were lying in third place having leapfrogged the elite crews, Sir Ben Ainslie’s JP Morgan BAR from Britain and Franck Cammas’ crew on Groupama, while Oman Air fell one place to ninth after a disappointing day where they were given a 45 second starting penalty for the collision with Realstone.
'Big crashes where boats get damaged are upsetting,' said Oman Air skipper Rob Greenhalgh. 'What was a comfortable dip became an issue in a wind shift and more pressure and we misjudged it and caught the transom of Realstone and very unfortunately damaged their boat. In this fleet it happens quite a lot – it is very close quarters tight action stuff and we just misjudged it.'
Extreme Sailing Series Act 1 - Oman Air skippered by Rob Greenghalgh (GBR), Tom Johnson (AUS), Will Howden (GBR), Hashim Al Rashdi(OMA), Musab Al Hadi (OMA) - © Lloyd Images
Extreme Sailing Series Act 1 - The Wave Muscat - © Lloyd Images
Extreme Sailing Series Act 1 - Oman Air - © Lloyd Images
Extreme Sailing Series Act 1 - The Wave Muscat skippered by Leigh McMillan - © Lloyd Images
Extreme Sailing Series Act 1 - © Lloyd Images
Extreme Sailing Series 2014 - © Lloyd Images