Oman Air continued as they had left off in the Extreme Sailing Series season, with victory in both of the two races so far sailed at a weather-restricted Hamburg Act.
Fresh from an overall win at the previous event in Barcelona two weeks ago, the Oman Air crew indicated they were going for a repeat performance, dominating proceedings when racing finally got going on day two of the four-day event.
However, it was the weather which again proved the most formidable competition. With a lack of wind forcing cancellation of all racing on day one, dramatically changing wind directions on the River Elbe also brought racing to a premature end on day two.
Nevertheless, the Oman Air crew of Phil Robertson, Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari, James Wierzbowski and Ed Smyth go into the second half of the regatta with a clear six point lead over their nearest rivals.
“It’s great to have two in the bag though it was wet and tricky out there,” said Greenhalgh, Oman Air’s mainsheet trimmer and tactician.
After a relatively straightforward first race win, he added that some pre-race tactical planning paid dividends in the second.
“On the second race we were over early at the start which put us at the back, but for some reason the whole of the fleet chose the right hand mark to go round and we had already decided it had to be left. It would have been quite nerve-racking if we had been in the lead, but we were at the back and went round it and it was all good, pretty much instantly into the lead,” said Greenhalgh.
With 90-degree wind shifts, big holes in the breeze, and a three-knot tide turning the Elbe into a massive moving carpet, race organisers called an early end to proceedings.
“Saturday is going to be pretty full-on with a medium breeze,” Greenhalgh predicted. “I would not be surprised if the race officer does not try for around 10 races – it could be a pretty brutal day in those conditions.”
Oman Air arrived at the Hamburg Act just a single point behind the overall series joint leaders SAP Extreme Sailing Team and Alinghi, and know both will offer a serious challenge to any attempt to overtake them.
“It’s good to have a lead, but we know how competitive the other teams are,” said Omani bowman Al Mashari, a veteran of the Extreme Sailing Series. “There is likely to be a lot of racing on Saturday and Sunday so we have to stay focussed and take nothing for granted. We have made the most of the two races we have been able to sail so far.”
Meanwhile, in the Flying Phantom Series Oman Sail got off to a strong start in their bid to improve on their fifth place in the overall standings among the 12-strong fleet of 5.5m long two-handed foiling catamarans.
The rotating squad of skipper Thomas Normand and crew Antoine Joubert posted a third and a fifth place on the first day of racing, to sit in third place on the Hamburg leaderboard.