It’s an old cliché but it was proved yet once again on the second day of Extreme 40 racing at The Wave, Muscat, home of the opening event of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series. Consistent performance will guarantee a top spot after a long day of racing and that’s exactly what Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Oman Air did today in Oman.
A total of eight races were sailed today off the beach at The Wave, literally meters from the pier, with conditions that went from a good sea breeze 12 to 14 knots, early in the afternoon, down to a slow motion drift race at the end of the day. However, both Rothschild and Oman Air clearly showed their domination throughout the day, alternating in the first two spots of the overall leaderboard, almost after every race.
This is the very first Extreme Sailing event we cover and it is a bit of a surprise to see that the organizer’s claim they run “stadium sailing” is much more than typical PR. The boats sail right in front of the beach and the pier and the race area is within a confined spaced, squeezed between the beach and a long breakwater. Both the general public and the VIPs and corporate guests have very good view of the races, the only difference being that the latter have the extra floor of the VIP tent. In fact, all of the photos today were either taken from the public area or the first floor terrace of the VIP tent. There is hardly any need for a proper photo boat if you don’t mind repeating the same angle throughout the day…
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Act 1, Muscat, Oman standings after Day 2, 14 races (29.2.12)
1st Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) 85 points
2nd Oman Air (OMA) 84 points
3rd The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 72 points
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 65 points
5th GAC Pindar (GBR) 62 points
6th ZouLou (FRA) 51 points
7th Alinghi (SUI) 50 points
8th Team Trifork (DEN) 35 points
Despite this being his second day of racing on an Extreme 40 and his tenth sailing on these catamarans, Morgan Larson showed he’s means business right from the onset. Thirty seconds before the start and just when it appeared he would be late and off the pace, he charged, flew the winward hull and charged ahead, squeezing in between the fleet and the committee boat. Oman Air might have started a few seconds late but hit the line with full speed and, more importantly, got the favored right side in the first beat. Rothschild was always behind the Omani boat but were never able to threaten them. Morgan Larson extended the lead in the third leg and crossed the finish line comfortably ahead of the fleet.
The tables turned in the second day of the day with Rothschild claiming victory and Oman Air finishing behind them. In these race the start is the key element and probably their most important part and that’s exactly what the French boat did. They had a great start in the middle of the line, ahead of the fleet while Oman Air opted for the pin end. Rothschild stayed ahead and extended their lead in the third leg, something that took place in various races today.
This race was a repeat of the previous one with Rothschild building an even more commanding lead in the third leg. Once again, Oman Air finished second and the two teams consolidated their grasp on the two top spots of the overall leaderboard.
Morgan Larson continued his winning streak with yet another excellent race. Once again, he opted for the pin end of the starting line and the left side of the course. Oman Air got ahead and stayed ahead, stretching their lead in the third leg. Rothschild had a tougher race, struggling in the middle of the fleet.
As the afternoon advanced, the breeze dropped and shifted, forcing the race committee to make a radical change in the course. The starting line moved much closer to the shore with the pin end less than 2-3 boatlengths from the pier. The first leg was also shortened to less than 200 meters, making the start even more important. The Wave, Muscat had a superb start, on pace at the middle of the line and charged ahead to the first mark, rounding ahead of the fleet. Rothschild and Oman Air never threatened The Wave, Muscat and finished the race in second and third place, respectively.
The start was once again a crucial part in the race and the boat that nailed it was to claim victory. In race 6 of the day it was Roman Hagara’s Red Bull to hit the accelerator on the pin end and get first to the first mark, followed by The Wave, Oman air and Rothschild. While Red Bull managed to retain their comfortable lead it was the battle for second place that would prove more interesting. Oman Air was holding on into second halfway through but a wrong call in the third leg for the right side of the course cost them three places. Rothschild chose the left and managed to overtake the both Omani boats and finish second.
By the seventh race of the day the breeze had dropped even further and the race committee had to further shorten the legs. This was also the worst race, in terms of results, for the two leaders, Rothschild and, in particular, Oman Air. In the very light breezes, Morgan Larson seemed to struggle getting the timing correct and was found over the line at the start. By the time the Omani boat was back in the race the rest of the fleet was well ahead. The Wave, Muscat led from the start but the boat to stand out was Trifork, the Danish newcomers. Despite a pretty average start, they picked the correct side of the course in the third leg and moved from 6th to second.