Team Asyad Shipping, Oman Sail’s entry into the 44Cup finale at Al Mouj Muscat, began to show their skill on the third day of their first ever experience of the race. However, low winds brought this progress to an abrupt halt.
The Omani team led round the starboard leeward gate mark, a few seconds after Artemis Racing had led around the port mark. After tacking on to starboard, the Omanis dug into a major lift as they crossed the breadth of the course and by the time they had returned to the starboard layline they were in the lead.
“It was good, but it went wrong at the top mark. We just tried to hang on until the end after that,” said Musab Al Hadi. “It was great. It was exciting. We were just trying to keep it cool. If we can just continue matching the other boats.”
Ultimately only one race could be held, with the north-northwesterly wind never exceeding 6-7 knots. Enough for the nimble RC44 owner-driver one designs to make this speed both upwind and downwind, but a tricky day for both race officials and the nine 44Cup teams alike.
it was Chris Bake’s Team Aqua that led onto the run. Anticipating the breeze going right, they were quick to gybe and so held their advantage to the finish.
Team Aqua tactician Cameron Appleton commented, “The race was really tricky with a lot of decisions and a lot of thought going into positioning. For us it was a really solid race in the end, but there were a lot of up and downs, trying to balance out the whole fleet versus the wind. We got ourselves out to the right when the breeze went right and so we were able to lead on to the last run. It went heavily our way, and we are really happy that it did.”
Abdulaziz Al Shidi, Race Officer, said, “We have an Omani team running the race management in the water. The team is very experienced because we have hosted many races in Oman, both here in Muscat and in Mussanah. The team has grown in confidence over the past 10 years, and now we have the trust of World Sailing and classes, such as 44Cup, to be able to host major events here and manage the events with a local team.”
Maria Torrijo, Principal Race Officer of the 44Cup, added, “The Omani team is very well trained and having trust in the team allows me to focus on my role. After the practice race, you can see how experienced the team is and they are very good. It has been very easy for me to manage the races. I was relaxed when I came here. I knew Oman Sail has a very high standard and the team is used to a lot of responsibility.”
Going into the final day the pointscore is showing the 44Cup’s usual closeness with just one point separating the top three and eight points between the top five. Any of the top seven teams remains mathematically capable of winning.
Racing is scheduled to get underway at 12:00 local time (UTC -4 hours). Follow live from www.44cup.org.
The 44Cup Oman is organised by Oman Sail and also supported by official event partners Oman Air, Al Mouj Muscat, Kempinski Hotel Muscat, Tanuf Water, Transom Catering, environmental partners Environment Society of Oman (ESO) and UN Clean Seas, and the new EQ range from Mercedes-Benz Oman.