Team Oman Air showed determination and flair to dominate a thrilling final day of racing at the GC32 Riva Cup on Lake Garda, with overall victory only eluding them by the narrowest possible margin.
However the Oman Air team remain on track to claim the 2019 GC32 Racing Tour title as a win at the season’s final event on home waters in Muscat would tip the finely balanced season in their favour.
After three days of intense racing in Italy the crew launched themselves into Sunday’s last day decider intent on dismantling a four point advantage held by their Swiss rival Alinghi.
They proceeded to do so with a masterclass of focused sailing which saw the high-speed Oman Air foiling catamaran win the first three races to share the overall lead. A second place in the penultimate race – with Alinghi fourth – delivered a two point lead and set up a nail-biting finale.
The final race on a breezy Lake Garda saw the lead change hands several times with Oman Air and Alinghi at times match-racing around the course, and the Swiss team only edging ahead on the last leg to take the race win. Though level on points after 19 races, the Riva Cup went to Alinghi under the GC32 Racing Tour’s tie-break rule.
“It was fantastic racing out there with a really good breeze and great foiling conditions – we sailed really well and unfortunately let the title slip away in the last race,” said skipper Adam Minoprio, who leads the Oman Air crew of Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari, Stewart Dodson and Adam Piggott.
“We started off the event a bit shaky and didn’t have the best first day giving Alinghi a good lead, but it was a good target for us to go out and chase them down. We made good changes and went out stronger, and we hauled them in to have a shot at beating them in the final race,” said the New Zealand match-racing ace.
Greenhalgh, Oman Air’s tactician and mainsail trimmer, added: “It was phenomenal out there today. We were desperate to get five races so we could reel in Alinghi who were a couple of points ahead of us, and we were able to do that and overtake them.
“Going into the last race they had to beat us and put a boat between us and unfortunately for us they managed that. They got just ahead of us and we looked for every opportunity to get past but we couldn’t manage it – so we were level on points and they beat us on the tie-break.”
Thoughts now turn to the season decider in Oman in November where Team Oman Air – which is also supported by EFG Private Bank Monaco and managed by Oman Sail – will be looking to clinch the GC32 Racing Tour title on home waters.
Long-standing Oman Air crew Al Mashari said: “It is still tight overall so we are looking forward to the next event in Oman where we will aim to do our best and maybe win the whole series – it would be great to just smash it there.”
The final and deciding event of the 2019 GC32 Racing Tour – the GC32 Oman Cup – will be held in Muscat from November 5 – 9.