Cardiff: Oman Sail's Extreme Sailing Series team on-board The Wave, Muscat held their nerve all the way down adrenalin alley in Cardiff, to pull off a remarkable victory in Act 5 of the circuit, while the second boat, Oman Air, put down a marker for the rest of the series.
At the start of the final race of the day, having come last in the first two races, they were at the top of the rankings, leading closest rivals Alinghi and J.P. Morgan BAR. To take the win, they needed to execute some bold moves resulting in all three ending up in a 'tangle', which as Leigh McMillan explained, worked in favour of the Omani boat.
"It has been a roller coaster ride here in Cardiff – pretty emotional," admitted McMillan. "We battled all through the day and we tried to race well as a team and after a couple of bad races at the start, we regrouped and we did it. It came down to the wire as always in the last race. We don't do things the easy way so it was pretty touch and go."
"There were three of us fighting for the wind all right next to each other and none of us were laying the windward mark but it ended up playing into our hands. It was light and we were trying to push Alinghi the wrong side of the mark so we all got into a tangle which worked in our favour." The Wave's victory, their second in the series after a win in Muscat earlier this year, reduces Alinghi's overall lead in the series to just two points with three Acts in 2014 remaining including the next one in Istanbul.
"We've been solid all year and are winning events but in Istanbul, we can take it back to Alinghi and it will continue to be a big showdown as the year progresses."
The Wave, Muscat crew of Nasser Al Mashari, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh and Kinley Fowler attracted a large and loyal following among the local crowds in Cardiff and they were thrilled at the support. "To win an Extreme 40 event especially in Cardiff is a big deal so we are very happy," said Al Mashari. "It was good to hear the spectators cheering for us as we came through the finish line. It made it more powerful and exciting."
Oman Air in sixth
It was another promising contest for Rob Greenhalgh and Oman Air, who finished in sixth place just seven points behind Realteam to sit in ninth place on the overall leaderboard.
The addition of new crewmember Ted Hackney had been a success, Greenhalgh said, and he had worked well alongside Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi and Kyle Langford with a marked improvement in their performances including nine podium places from 33 races.
"I am pleased with sixth – we would have liked to have finished in the top half but it was all very close. We have made general improvements and are pleased with our performances – Ted has been a great addition to the crew and everyone is happy. It's been a hard event but Musab and Hashim do a great job at the front of the boat making sure we get round the course quickly.
"Now we are looking forward to Istanbul. We all feel we can compete for podium positions so will be looking to finish in the top five or six overall."
Success off the water
The success was not confined to the water. For the third time in the series, Oman Sail was awarded Land Rover's Above and Beyond Award, awarded to the team or individual who demonstrates the finest examples of skill, sportsmanship and strength of mind. This time, the Omani team shared it jointly with JPMorgan for helping Emirates Team New Zealand with their broken rudder on the first day of racing on Friday.
The next Extreme Sailing Series event takes place in Istanbul in Turkey from September 11 to 14.
ESS Act 5 Cardiff standings: 1. The Wave, Muscat (Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari) 210 points; 2nd Alinghi (SUI) 205 points; 3. J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 203 points; 4. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 186 points; 5. Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 182 points; 6. Oman Air (Rob Greenhalgh, Ted Hackney, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi) 175 points; 7. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 174 points; 8. Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 154 points; 9. Groupama sailing team (FRA) 154 points; 10. GAC Pindar (AUS) 153 points; 11. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 151 points.
ESS 2014 overall standings: 1. Alinghi (SUI) 47 points; 2. The Wave, Muscat 45 points; 3. Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 34 points; 4. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 33 points; 5. J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 25 points; 6. Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 22 points; 7. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 20 points; 8. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 18 points; 9. Oman Air (OMA) 16 points; 10. Groupama sailing team (FRA) 15 points; 11. GAC Pindar (AUS) 5 points.