Oman Air’s Extreme Sailing Series team wrapped up the first day of racing in Cardiff with a hard-earned race win in challenging light wind conditions.
On a day of sunshine but shifty breezes the difference between winning and losing came down to a matter of metres on a tight and confined Cardiff Bay racecourse.
A fifth place in the first and only other race sailed saw the Oman Air crew finish the day third overall on the leaderboard, but happy to sign off having led all the way at the end.
“It’s much nicer going home with a win under your belt, it’s always good to finish on a high on day one,” said Oman Air’s skipper and helm Phil Robertson.
“It wasn’t easy and it was all about the starting today, getting away from the line fast and clean. It was a short day with very light wind, so not a lot of action. Our first start was OK but we dropped back down the fleet after that, which was disappointing, then in the second race we put the package together.”
And he added: “Tomorrow is looking like there will be a little more wind, a bit more settled, and we may get a bigger race course which would give us a few more passing lanes. It’s nice racing on this bay, it offers a lot of tricky situations and scenarios.”
Robertson’s optimism for the rest of the Act is shared by Omani bowman Nasser Al Mashari, who said: “We have a great atmosphere on Oman Air and very good boat handling, but everyone can see the conditions. We had very light wind, and a very tricky two races, but there are three more days – hopefully we will get more wind and get better and better.
“It is too early to jump to any conclusions, but we will push and push, more and more, right up to the final day.”
Robertson, Al Mashari and the rest of the Oman Air crew – Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski and Ed Smyth – will be hoping to maintain Oman Sail’s Welsh winning streak. In the previous five Cardiff Acts an Omani team, either Oman Air or The Wave, Muscat, has been the winner. And fresh from back-to-back victories at the Barcelona and Hamburg Acts, the team are sure to have their sights set on a repeat performance.
Two second places saw Alinghi in first place overnight, with SAP Extreme Sailing Team a point behind in second, and Oman Air just a point further back.
Also in action in Cardiff, the Oman Sail crew in the Flying Phantom Series posted three solid top six finishes in their trio of races to end the first day in fourth spot.
Skipper Thomas Normand and Antoine Joubert will also be hoping more wind will allow the high-speed, two-handed foiling catamarans to show their potential to spectators around the stadium venue.