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Extreme Sailing Series™ Los Cabos Day 2: Team Oman Air takes the lead

by Extreme Sailing Series 1 Dec 2018 01:08 PST 29 November – 2 December, 2018
Extreme Sailing Series™ Los Cabos 2018 - Day Two - Oman Air © Lloyd Images

Following their second place finish in yesterday's racing, Team Oman Air reached new heights on the second day of Extreme Sailing Series™ Los Cabos, closing the racing at the front of the seven-strong international fleet.

Soaring across the sun drenched sea, the Omani-flagged squad took down previously leading Red Bull Sailing Team in the final two races of the day, ruining the Austrian crew's clean sweep of four consecutive bullets since the Los Cabos competition opened.

An elated Oman Air finished the day tied on points with the Austrians as they head into the penultimate day of the ten-month long Stadium Racing championship.

"It's really good to take the lead," skipper Phil Robertson chirped. "I think we kept it pretty consistent today. We've been in the top three in every race so far, so it's a good place to start in a tough fleet. It's going to be a big push over the next few days to get as much in as we can. We're at the front now but our position is not safe at all."

They may have lost their clear lead, but opposing Red Bull Sailing Team are calm, collected and ready to smash their way through day three on Saturday.

"We haven't been in this position for a long time so we are enjoying it," said mainsail trimmer and double Olympic gold medallist, Hans Peter Steinacher. "All the others are constantly looking at the overall results, but we can afford to relax. It's allowing us to sail our best out there."

There was some unexpected turbulence, however, for Swiss team Alinghi. The current overall Series frontrunners fell from their usual lofty heights as their score sheet became peppered with results outside the podium.

Craning their necks all day, Psarofaghis and his crew spent the racing looking over their shoulders at chasing rivals SAP Extreme Sailing Team, currently ranked second in the overall Series and just seven points behind Alinghi in the Act.

There's no scope for buckling under pressure – anything less than a third place finish in Mexico could cost the Swiss the Series title.

"We got a race win today but it's not enough," admitted Alinghi's co-skipper and helm, Arnaud Psarofaghis. "We're going to have to sail better on the two remaining days to make sure everything is fine. We're enjoying the finale, we'll have to see what the outcome will be."

For the Brits, it wasn't the best day. Despite the presence of INEOS Team UK senior crew: Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott and Joey Newton onboard, the squad was bumped out of fourth by the Danes, closing the day in fifth place in the Los Cabos Act, valid for double points.

"It's so shifty out there, so we're just trying to sail our own race," mainsail trimmer Mark Spearman said. "We're definitely looking forward to tomorrow. We've had solid speed, solid boat handling and solid starts for the last few days, so we've just been missing out a bit on the pressure and the correct shifts. Hopefully we can get it all together for tomorrow."

Team México also struggled, scoring a string of disappointing results despite the shouts of support from the crowds. Still, skipper Erik Brockmann remains unfazed.

"In the two races with the best wind, we were actually doing okay," he explained. "We know we can get the boat going fast, so we will come back tomorrow with more determination – hopefully there will be a bit more wind too."

The penultimate day of racing in Los Cabos kicks off at 14:00 local time (UTC-7). It will be streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and on the Extreme Sailing Series App, powered by Spark Compass and VOGO Sport, which is available to download through the App Store and Google Play.

Extreme Sailing Series™ 2018 Los Cabos, standings after Day 2, 6 races (30.11.18)

Position / Team / Points

1st, Oman Air (OMA) Phil Robertson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Stewart Dodson, Nasser Al Mashari: 65 points
2nd, Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Dan Morris, Rhys Mara, Micah Wilkinson: 65 pts
3rd, Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey: 59 pts
4th, SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Rasmus Køstner, Adam Minoprio, Julius Hallström, Pierluigi de Felice, Richard Mason: 52 pts
5th, INEOS Rebels UK (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott, Oli Greber, Mark Spearman, Joey Newton: 52 pts
6th, US Team Extreme (USA) Taylor Canfield, Riley Gibbs, Matt Woodworth, Scott Ewing, Brian Porter: 44 pts
7th, Team México (MEX) Erik Brockmann, Tom Buggy, Alex Higby, Tom Phipps, Yanic Gentry: 41 pts

Update from Oman Sail

"With the light wind it was a tricky day out there and not everything went the way we wanted it to go," said Oman Air's Pete Greenhalgh.

"But despite that, the results did not turn out too badly for us and we are happy and positive to be in second place. There are two more days of light wind forecast and then better breeze on the last, so it is all still to play for."

The day belonged to the Austrian crew on Red Bull Sailing Team who took three straight wins. Oman Air finished level on points with the Swiss Alinghi team, edging in front on results, and clear ahead of INEOS Rebels UK and the Danish-flagged SAP Extreme Sailing Team.

A dramatic single point victory at the last Extreme Sailing Series event in San Diego had defined the broader objectives in Mexico for Greenhalgh, skipper Phil Robertson and teammates Stewart Dodson, James Wierzbowski and Nasser Al Mashari.

If they could finish ahead of SAP they would move up from third overall to end the 2018 season in second place. And if they could put two boats between themselves and the season-leading Alinghi team then the title itself would be won.

So, with SAP down in fifth place and Alinghi third, it was a case of one objective down, and one to go.

"We knew we had to beat SAP here in Mexico to finish any higher this season, and so far so good," said Oman Air's bowman Al Mashari. "But our win in San Diego gave us a lot of confidence and determination, so we will do the very best we can to get ahead of Alinghi as well."

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