(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Defending Extreme Sailing Series (ESS) champion, The Wave, Muscat maintained its podium place heading into the final day of Act 3 of the 2014 series on Saturday in Qingdao, China.
There was also encouraging news for Oman Sail's other entry, Oman Air, as skipper Rob Greenhalgh and his team won the day's first race and followed it up with a second place out of the eight races to finish at seventh place.
The two podium finishes helped Oman Air jump five places as the team cashed in on the average points that were awarded to Greenhalgh's team, after it got knocked out of racing on day one on Thursday.
Alinghi - the team which has led the Act since race one - managed to cling onto a ten-point advantage at the close of play on Saturday with 133 points, but it was its fellow Swiss side, Realteam, which impressed the most to head into the final showdown in China's Olympic Sailing City in second place (123).
The Wave, Muscat is just two points behind Realteam, and with up to 90 points for the taking on the final day, and huge gusts of up to 28 knots set to return, the Act 3 is set to go down to the wire.
Led by Leigh McMillan, The Wave, Muscat scored two consecutive wins early in the day but then conceded points in the final two races to end third with 121 points.
''We were going well but the last two races didn't quite go to plan. We have done a really good job in getting closer to Alinghi. Tomorrow, hopefully the conditions will be good enough to get in lots of races and if that is the case, it is still a level-playing field. We will be gunning for the overall victory,'' said McMillan.
Trailing The Wave, Muscat by just a point is Emirates Team New Zealand (120).
The battle mid-leaderboard is just as intense, with only 25 points separating positions five to eleven.
Red Bull Sailing Team lead the second half of the pack in fifth place (105 points), with Gazprom Team Russia just nine points behind (96). Oman Air (92) is two points ahead of Groupama Sailing Team (90).
America's Cup winner Kyle Langford, who joined Oman Air recently as mainsail trimmer, said, ''It was our first proper day's racing (after missing day one following a collision), and it went reasonably well.
''We had a race win which was good, and it was good to see that we can actually do it, so all in all it was excellent. It was easier for us to figure out our manoeuvres. We're constantly working hard and we'll always aim to improve.''
Hashim al Rashdi and Musab al Hadi, the two Omanis on board Oman Air were happy to put some points on the board. ''It was a good day. We found our stride a bit more," said Hadi, who along with Rashdi is in the running for Oman Sail's best sailor of the year award that will be announced on May 7.
Standings after Day 3 (after 22 races): 1 Alinghi 133 points, 2 Realteam 123, 3 The Wave, Muscat 121, 4 Emirates Team New Zealand 120, 5 Red Bull Sailing Team 105, 6 Gazprom Team Russia 96, 7 Oman Air 92, 8 Groupama Sailing Team 90, 9 J P Morgan BAR 85, 10 SAP Extreme Sailing Team 81, 11 Team Extreme Qingdao 80, 12 GAC Pindar 66 points