RIO DE JANERIO: Never has the conclusion of an Extreme Sailing Series season been so uncertain, so nail-biting, but The Wave, Muscat, held their nerves to win the final Act in Rio de Janeiro and with it, overall victory in the 2012 Series.
Oman Air had a strong finish to sail past Red Bull for third place in Rio, good enough to give them second overall in the Series.
The two Omani boats could hardly have wished for a better conclusion to an exciting and dramatic season that began in Muscat and took the teams around the world to China, Istanbul, Portugal, Great Britain, France and finally Brazil.
Leigh McMillan, the skipper of The Wave, Muscat, said this was the most nerve-wracking conclusion to any season of the Extreme Sailing Series.
The team won in Rio de Janeiro with 192.2 points, a mere 0.2 points ahead of the French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.
"We've had some lucky moments at times, but thanks to the guys around me, they always keep me in good shape, keep me looking forwards at the next opportunity."
Hashim Al Rashdi's participation in today's excitement had been in doubt after the Omani bowman was injured in a collision between The Wave, Muscat, and Team Brasil yesterday.
"I had some painkiller injections for my back," said Al Rashdi. "Even if there was still some pain, I gave 100 per cent today, and I'm very, very happy to win the Extreme Sailing Series. It has been a great, great day." McMillan paid tribute to Al Rashdi's determination. "This has been Hashim's first season in the Extreme 40. Starting from scratch, without experience, is a huge task, but he has done a fantastic job this year and he has become a very strong sailor. He should be very proud."
Oman Air climbed up to 3rd place on the Rio podium in the dying moments of the final race. "This event has been a high point for us," said Larson.
"There were plenty of opportunities for us to unfold as a team, and we had some tough moments at the back in some races. But everybody on the team always kept their chin up, stayed positive even when things weren't going great. Today was a great test of our character and I'm really happy how things worked out for us." Oman Air's bowman Nasser Al Mashari looked back on a great year with enormous pride.
"It was a very hard day today, but it ended well for Oman with two teams in 1st and 2nd overall. It is a historic day for sailing in Oman, a great way to celebrate the past five years of the Oman Sail project."
Al Mashari said he hoped the achievements of the two Omani Extreme Sailing Series teams would inspire young Omanis to try sailing for themselves
"The door is open for anyone to learn to sail, and I hope that one day we will see Oman represented at the Olympic Games."
Larson spoke highly of Al Mashari: "Nasser is rock solid, he has a lot of experience now, but he's still improving all the time. He loves his sailing, and he's an absolute star to have on the team."
Michael Lenarduzzi, CEO of The Wave, Muscat, commented: "The continued success of our boat in the series is testimony to the world class sailing talent and development programmes for young sailors available in Oman. Congratulations to the whole The Wave, Muscat team on their success in the series in 2012 and for highlighting the great talent emerging in Oman."