The Musandam-Oman Sail crew bowed to their rival’s greater experience on the start linetoday though came away with a podium place from the first round of City Races in Marseilles.

Fresh from their offshore success in Leg 4 of the MOD70 European Tour 2012, the focus shifted once more to racing round the buoys with a welcome return to the Musandam-Oman Sail ranks of German sailor Michi Mueller who was injured during the city races in Kiel last month.

There was also a return for Omani sailor Mohsin Al Busaidi who missed the offshore leg but was back in action for the three City Races which were staged in the waters between the famous Corniche and the Frioul islands off Marseille in the south of France.

Al Busaidi is a member of Oman Sail’s innovative programme to develop sailing as a platform for raising the country’s profile around the world and has been part of the Oman flagship crew since the MOD70 Championships started with the KRYS Ocean Race in July.

His dedication, which has inspired countless youngsters to take up sailing in Oman, has required him to spend weeks away from his family but his wife and two and a half year-old daughter travelled from Muscat to Marseille to watch him and the rest of the crew do battle with the four other trimarans in the MOD70 fleet.

“It is her first time in France but she is having a very good time. I am sailing every day so have no idea where she goes but she is making lots of new friends,” he said.

“We learned a lot today about race starts. If we made a good start, we had a good race. If we missed the start, we almost missed the race though there was no doubt about our ability to fight back. It was only when we crossed the finish line that our race was definitely over.”

It was this defiance that earned Musandam-Oman Sail a second place in the second race, sandwiched between a fourth in the first and a fifth in the last. After three races, it was Steve Ravussin’s Race for Water, with whom they are battling for an overall podium place, who were at the top of the Marseille leaderboard.

“Our second was a good result because we had good acceleration off the line but the courses were short and it was little vagaries of the wind that proved decisive,” said Brian Thompson.

“There were no passing lanes so the guys who made the best starts tended to extend. The starts were great fun for the spectators because the boats were so close to each other – about one metre – and the courses so short.

“Our crew work was very good and we didn’t do too much wrong but we need a bit more luck tomorrow.”

For Michi Mueller, the return to Musandam-Oman Sail meant a full recovery from the leg injury sustained in Kiel which ruled him out of action for a month.

“Yes I'm back and it's great to be back onboard and sailing again,” he said.

“Today's was a bit of a mixed bag, we had a fairly average start in the first race, the second went better and we got a second. Tomorrow's another day!"