Singapore hosted the penultimate day of the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series today and after events at eight countries across the globe it really couldn’t be closer at the top of the leaderboard for the final event of the year. Only 11 points separate second placed Red Bull (AUT) from sixth placed Oman Sail’s The Wave, Muscat, and with their teammates Oman Air finishing the day in third place, both the Omani teams are real contenders for a podium position.
Racing took place in two sessions today to make the most of the early breeze, and the fleet completed five races in the best conditions they have had so far in Singapore. Consistent breeze and a few big gusts raised the tempo of the racing, which seemed to suit The Wave, Muscat who came out fighting, winning not only the first race of the day, but also race four.
A further six races were sailed in the afternoon session, and The Wave, Muscat continued their fantastic form, claiming a further two wins. However, it was a real game of snakes and ladder for the team – after nine races they were up to third place, just nine points adrift of second placed Red Bull (AUT). But it all changed in race 10, when their teammates Oman Air finished in third, leapfrogging The Wave, Muscat and knocking them off the podium. The team struggled to regain their position, and had to settle for sixth place going into the final day of racing, but as Khamis al Anbouri, the teams Bowman explains, it is all to play for tomorrow.
“Today was a long day with a lot of races. Its good for us and we took every opportunity to claim as many points as possible. We had some good races and some great wins which has made a big difference to the leaderboard. We worked really hard, but we had some bad races, and we struggled to read the wind shifts at times. It is very close at the top of the leaderboard, and within just one race the positions can change.”
Oman Air proved that consistency is key, rarely finishing a race out of the top five. New skipper, Chris Draper, seems to have found his feet again on the Extreme 40 very quickly – not surprising as he was the man who led Oman Sail Masirah to victory in the 2009 Series. The team go into the final day in third place, just two points behind Red Bull (AUT), with Emirates Team New Zealand just three points behind them.
Nasser Al Mashari, the teams Bowman spoke about the level of competition in the fleet. “The competition is incredible. It is great to see all these teams in contention for a podium place and fighting against each other. There is also a clear competition between both Omani boats – both teams want to ensure the Omani flag is on the podium when the event finishes, and we are both so close.”
Joining Oman Sail to show his support for the Omani teams today was His Excellency Zakaria al Saadi, the Omani Consul General to Singapore. His Excellency cheered the teams on from the shore, experiencing a race onboard as the fifth man on Oman Air. This was the second time His Excellency has sailed with Oman Sail, having previously joined the Jewel of Muscat crew on their arrival to Singapore in 2010.
In the battle for the Series title, the Italian team Luna Rossa took an early lead today, leapfrogging Red Bull (AUT) at the top of the leaderboard after race one, where they stayed for the remainder of the day. A solid performance today by the Italians saw them extend their lead over their biggest contenders for the overall Series title, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, (FRA), and Luna Rossa now have a 56-point lead over the French team and will surely be feeling confident of the Series title going into the final day tomorrow.
The Wave, Muscat is one of four boats who could claim the third place on overall Series. They will need to beat off tough competition from Red Bull (AUT), Alinghi (SUI) and Emirates Team New Zealand.
Racing will start at 10am local time tomorrow, and the fleet will be hoping for more of the same windy conditions that they had today, to finish the Series on a high.