The crew of Oman Air go into the concluding Extreme Sailing Series event confident they can wrap-up the 2017 season on a high note.
With double points on offer at the finale in Los Cabos, Mexico, the highly experienced team also know that the ultimate destination of the Extreme Sailing Series title could go down to the wire.
Phil Robertson’s Oman Air crew of Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, James Wierzbowski and Nasser Al Mashari, sit in second place on the overall series leaderboard, five points behind the on-form Danish-flagged SAP team and a point ahead of the Swiss defending champions Alinghi.
They will be aiming to bounce back from what was, by their own high standards, a disappointing performance at the last Act in San Diego which saw them finish off the podium in fourth place for the first time in 2017.
While aware of the scale of the task ahead, the Oman Air team know that yacht racing is an inherently unpredictable affair. At the same time, Los Cabos is a new venue for the Extreme Sailing Series so the race course at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula is likely to add even more uncertainty to the mix.
“We pretty much aim to go out there, do the very best that we can and see how the dice fall,” said Greenhalgh, Oman Air’s veteran tactician and mainsail trimmer.
“The double points on offer do open things up. SAP needs to be fourth and we need to win the event to take the series – and as we know, fourth places are possible for the top runners, Alinghi even had a sixth place in Hamburg, so anything is possible.”
Ever the realist, Greenhalgh added: “The reality is that SAP are sailing exceptionally well and if they continue to do so they will be very difficult to beat. We want to do the same though, and if nothing else, win the last event of the season. We want to finish the year off on a high and then carry the momentum through into 2018.”
As for the novelty of a new venue, he said: “It’s brand new for all of us on the boat and I don’t have any preconceived expectations about what it is going to be like, which is a pretty good way to go into an event really. We will be aiming to make the very best of it.”
Bowman Al Mashari is also keen to finish the long Extreme Sailing Series season with a successful flourish. Now a veteran of the high-speed foiling GC32 catamaran circuit, he said: “We sailed the boat well in San Diego and we also know where we made some mistakes.
“So we can come to Mexico and make a few adjustments and we will be right back in there at the front of the fleet. I am confident we can do that. We won back-to-back Acts in the middle of the year in Barcelona and Hamburg, so we know we can repeat that success in Los Cabos.
“Alinghi are just a point behind so we will be keeping a close eye on them – but to even be ahead of Alinghi after the season they had last year shows we are sailing well. We always knew they were going to be hard to beat this year,” he added.
Outside the top three, Austria’s Red Bull Racing Team are out of overall contention in fourth place but are still eyeing a podium place for the season. At the bottom of the leaderboard NZ Extreme Sailing Team and Land Rover BAR Academy both have a point to prove.
In Los Cabos the six regular Extreme Sailing Series teams are joined again by the US-flagged team, Lupe Tortilla Demetrio, and another wildcard entry in the shape of Team Extreme Mexico, with a mixed Mexican-British crew line-up headed by experienced local racer Erik Brockmann, a national 49er and 420 champion.
Racing at the Extreme Sailing Series finale starts on Thursday 30 November and concludes on Sunday 3 December.