Oman teams rule the day at Extreme Sailing Series

Published on September 12th, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey (September 12, 2014) – Day two at the Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 6 in Istanbul without doubt went to the two Oman Sail teams, with Oman Air clocking up more points then any other boat on the water to climb a massive four places on the leaderboard, and finish the day in third.

Oman Air’s best day of the season couldn’t even be matched by their stablemate and defending champions The Wave, Muscat despite a brilliant showing by Leigh McMillan and the team, which has put a little light between them and Emirates Team New Zealand at the top of the leaderboard.

In a day that could be described as the ‘day of the underdogs,’ GAC Pindar were also hugely impressive, earning the accolade as the quickest boat off the start line according to the SAP sailing analytics, which has shown the Aussie team as a real contender heading into tomorrow’s penultimate day in fourth place.

Oman Air’s skipper Rob Greenhalgh, who won the first ever Extreme Sailing Series back in 2007, was thrilled with his teams’ performance. “We had a really good day today. We made some good improvements on boat speed, we made just a few little changes to the boat set-up, which made a big difference, we started well and got some good results out of it. We’re really happy with today, but there’s still two days left of the regatta, plenty to work on still and plenty more improvements to be made.”

Their fellow Omani compatriots on The Wave, Muscat have been criticised this year for being slow starters, but in Istanbul they’ve found another gear, hitting the ground running and quashing that reputation. Their tactician and double Olympic champion Sarah Ayton spoke about the team’s focus onboard:

“The first thing is, it’s really close and lots of teams have upped their game so it really isn’t going to be over until that final race on Sunday. But today we had a good day. We approached it with high-energy, and it was a case of doing the basics well. I think overall that’s what we did and it put us in good shape. We’re really focusing on the tempo on the boat, getting good starts and all of those things we’ve been working on throughout the year are all kind of gelling together.”

It was a physically demanding day for the fleet with eight fast-paced races, in breeze that steadily built throughout the afternoon to 18 knots, making every manoeuvre and decision during the reaching starts and short windward-leeward legs critical. For the second day in a row, the SAP sailing analytics show Emirates Team New Zealand as the fastest average team on the water, and if it hadn’t been for a starting penalty during the eighth and final race of the day, the Kiwi’s may well be in pole position. Instead, the team finish the day in second place, three points behind The Wave, Muscat – but with a whole lot of races and points still up for the taking over the next two days.

For Olympic champion Nathan Wilmot and the team on GAC Pindar, Istanbul has so far been a real turning point for them, drawing a line in the sand after a conservative start to the year, to really give the more experienced teams a run for their money. After racing Wilmot was modest about his team’s performance despite being in fourth place.

“We had a few bad races to start off with and we were over the line in the first two, so we tried to change things around a bit. Then after that we got the starts right, and began to race ahead of the fleet from then onwards. It was really hard out there today. There were some big holes in the breeze and generally tricky conditions all around. Some of the boats had a really good day and we just tried to stick in there and do the best we could. It was really close on the course, especially at the gate. It was good, really good close racing.”

The local invitational entry, TeamTurx, gave the home crowd something to celebrate today, with a win in race two followed up by two fourths, in a real Cinderella moment. Their skipper Edhem Diravana, who has been instrumental in the formation of the team, was ecstatic about the team’s performance – and eager for more!

“It was such a fantastic feeling. We’ve been working hard for this race for such a long time and as a wildcard entry, we’re not favourites. We won a race against some of the best sailors in the world, and to come here for our first time and get a race win, we’re just over the moon. Hopefully this is just the start, and it will get our national crowds excited about this great sailing experience and then hopefully we can continue and have a team for a whole Series!”

Both Alinghi and Groupama sailing team were back in the water today with new rigs, after learning the limits the hard way and breaking their masts in isolated incidents during yesterday’s racing. Alinghi were slow out of the blocks, sailing conservatively before make a late surge to salvage some points and positions to finish the day in sixth place, while Groupama sailing team struggled to find their rhythm, bringing up the tail end of the leaderboard.

Tomorrow the day will begin with a race on the Bosphorus strait, before the fleet head back to the stadium for the penultimate days racing.

Day 2 Standings (15 races)
1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 95 points.
2nd Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, Glenn Ashby, James Dagg, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 92 points.
3rd Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 87 points.
4th GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Jack Macartney, Ed Smyth, Seve Jarvin, Tyson Lamond 75 points.
5th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Christian Kamp, Brad Farrand 74 points.
6th Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 70 points.
7th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 68 points.
8th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Matt Adams, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 66 points.
9th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Bleddyn Mon, Matt Cornwell 65 points.
10th TeamTurx (TUR) Mitch Booth, Edhem Dirvana, Selim Kakış, Ateş Çinar, Anıl Berk Baki 56 points.
11th Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Cédric Schmidt, Thierry Wassem 54 points.
12th Groupama sailing team (FRA) Tanguy Cariou, François Morvan, Romain Motteau, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 48 points.

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Report by event media. Photo by Mark Lloyd.

Background: The Extreme Sailing Series is in its eighth season, with this year’s eight event tour travelling through Asia and Europe. The platform used is the one design Extreme 40 catamaran, with the format for event including both ocean and ‘stadium’ short-course racing in front of the public. Interest in the ESS has grown in part due to the multihull format being used in the America’s Cup.

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