Team Oman Air has taken a well-deserved podium place in challenging conditions on Lake Garda at the GC32 World Championships to strengthen their bid for the 2018 Extreme Sailing Series title.
The event saw a larger than usual fleet of 13 of the high-speed foiling GC32 catamarans competing for the title.
Oman Air – who won last year’s GC32 class championship event held in Muscat – were third this time behind new world champions Team Tilt and runner-up SAP Extreme Sailing Team.
The team meanwhile secured second place in the Extreme fleet ranking, which was scored separately. As a result they stay in third place on the overall Extreme season leaderboard, but have closed the gap and are level on points with the Swiss Alinghi team, both just two points behind current 2018 leaders SAP.
The picturesque nature of the Garda venue did nothing to disguise the intense competition out on the water in sometimes light and quickly changing conditions.
“It’s an awfully tough fleet and you could find yourself coming first or coming last on some occasions, that was very easy here,” said Oman Air skipper Phil Robertson.
“Lake Garda is one of the best places to sail and we had an awesome time. The wind did not come through as you would expect at this time of year, but we had enough on a couple of days and we had a blast.”
Robertson and crew Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Stewart Dodson and Nasser Al Mashari took the opportunity to hone their skills in lighter winds, anticipating similar conditions at the next Extreme Sailing Series event in Barcelona.
“We are really happy with the result, and we were sailing really well at times,” said veteran British sailor Greenhalgh.
“We made a couple of tactical mistakes unfortunately and you really get punished when that happens. We have learnt so much as a team with these wind conditions, and are looking forward to taking that to the next event. We are definitely one of the top boats in these conditions now.”
And he added: “We are looking forward to Barcelona as last year we went there and won. We are really hoping we can repeat that performance.”
The heightened competition and strong result has inspired confidence in the crew said Al Mashari, Oman Air’s bowman.
“With more boats than usual on the startline and around the course, at times it was very exciting. It added something different and it was of course more competitive, but it was a lot of fun. With a good finish here in Garda we can look forward to the rest of the season with confidence.”
After a third place at the opening Extreme event in Muscat back in March, and now a second spot in Italy, the Oman Air team will be looking to go one better when the Extreme Sailing Season resumes again in mid-June in Spain. Further regattas follow in quick succession in Cascais, Portugal, in early July, and then Cardiff, UK, in August, before the season finishes in San Diego and Los Cabos, Mexico, in October and November.