OMAN AIR POSTS TWIN WINS; TWM IN SIGHT OF ACT 5 TITLE

Hamburg hosted an action-packed day on Saturday as The Wave, Muscat (TWM) climbed up the leaderboard to within a point of the top spot and Oman Air stormed to two race wins on the penultimate day of Act 5 of the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series.

The wind sweeping down River Elbe was wild and gusty, which forced crews to put safety above other considerations. Leader SAP Extreme Sailing Team was hit by a violent gust and it capsized in the last race; no one was injured.

“The capsize was an eye-opener,” said Oman Air skipper Stevie Morrison. “It makes you realise these are big powerful boats with no keel and they can fall over. When it gets as crazy as it did today with the stormy winds, it is important to stay safe. The priority is getting to the finish.”

SAP , with a tally of 137 points, stayed on top, but held only a slender lead over TWM (136 points). Gazprom Team Russia (131) is in third place, followed by Red Bull Sailing Team (130) in fourth, Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes (118) in fifth and Oman Air (117) in sixth.

Morrison was delighted to have posted two race wins and although Oman Air remains in sixth place, the pressure within the top six is starting to build with just 20 points separating them and a full day’s racing remaining, culminating in a double-points finale.

Oman Air’s wins came as a confidence booster, said its bowman Ali al Balushi. “To win two races was great and made the event more exciting for us,” the Omani sailor said.

“We feel we have been sailing well, but we haven’t seen it in the results. We still need to improve, especially with our starts.

“The wind has been strong here, but we are strong on board. We have to be focused, so hopefully, we can do the same again on the final day and end up on the podium.”

Leigh McMillan, skipper of TWM, wasn’t entirely happy even though his team moved up one place on the leaderboard.

“We are pleased to have climbed up to second and a bit surprised because we had a lot of frustrating moments,” he said. “But it means on the final day, we can go out and fight for the lead. We have a good chance of winning the event.”

The weather posed problems for the entire fleet, McMillan said. “When the gusts came, we realised we needed to get the boat to the dock. I caught a glimpse of SAP going over – it was a massive gust and it could have happened to any of us,” he said.

Act 5 standings [after day three]: 1 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (137 pts), 2 The Wave, Muscat (136), 3 Gazprom Team Russia (131), 4 Red Bull Sailing Team (130), 5 Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes (118), 6 Oman Air (117), 7 Lino Sonego Team Italia (108), 8 GAC Pindar (95), 9 Team Extreme Germany (50).