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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 05/05/2014
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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Defending Extreme Sailing Series champion The Wave, Muscat, suffered a double disappointment when it not only missed a podium place by a point in the Act 3 of the ESS in Qingdao, China on Sunday, but also was displaced from the top of the overall series table by Alinghi of Switzerland, which won the Qingdao leg.

Oman Sail's other entry, Oman Air, managed to improve from the penultimate day's seventh position to finish at sixth place after some tight races at the unpredictable racecourse.

"It's our best result so far this year so we are very pleased with that," said Oman Air skipper Rob Greenhalgh.


The Oman Air shore crew with the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award

"We knew we would be slow starters this year because we are a brand new team but our aim was the top half of the table and we have achieved that here. Hopefully we can stay in the hunt for the rest of the year. We kept the tempo pretty high and all sailed well."

Oman Air's Omani crew member Musab al Hadi said, ''"It was pretty tough out there today and, of course, every team wanted to win. We are happy with sixth place and if we work harder we know we can do even better."

Realteam, which performed consistently over the last four days, was second while Emirates Team New Zealand took third.

The pressure is now on The Wave, Muscat when the fleet heads to Saint Petersburg, Russia, for Act 4, with Alinghi now two points ahead on the overall Series leaderboard.

The day's highlight was the big crash between Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team with the latter knocking the Swiss team out of racing from the final two races.

A change in race format saw the fleet race in groups of six for safety reasons with gusts up to 25 knots blowing across the racecourse, in what proved to be a day of mixed fortunes for the 12-boat elite level fleet.

Leigh McMillan, skipper of The Wave, Muscat, which has been a dominant force in the class for the last two seasons, was left feeling despondent after missing out on the podium by just one point - the first time since Singapore in 2013 when the team hasn't been on the podium.

"Normally we are strong at the end of an event and strong going into the last race, but it wasn't enough today," said McMillan.

"We had the possibility of getting into third so we fought hard for it. At one point, it looked possible but in the end it just didn't go our way though it was great to finish the event with a race win. Things didn't go completely to plan this week.

''Conditions were very shifty and we got caught out a number of times. It took us a while to get into rhythm and it cost us because some teams were able to do that from the word go,'' said the The Wave, Muscat skipper.

"But we were only one point off the podium so we didn't do too much damage. We are in good shape overall so need to keep pushing forward."

The battle for mid-leaderboard was fierce, with Oman Air leading the second half of the pack to wrap up the week in sixth place, despite missing the first day's racing after a collision with GAC Pindar.

In recognition of their effort get the boat back on the water, and their expertise in boat building, the Oman Air shore team, comprising Jo Lees, Hilal al Zadjali and Suleiman al Manji, became the first recipients of the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award this week, demonstrating a fine example of skill and sportsmanship.

As winners of the award, Oman Air now qualifies for the Land Rover Above and Beyond Trophy, awarded at the end of the season for the year's finest achievement.

Standings after day four: 1 Alinghi (178 points), 2 Realteam (168), 3 Emirates Team New Zealand (160), 4 The Wave, Muscat (159), 5 Gazprom Team Russia (140), 6 Oman Air (133), 7 J P Morgan BAR (129), 8 Groupama Sailing Team (128), 9 Red Bull Sailing Team (126), 10 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (125), 11 Team Extreme Qingdao (111), 12 GAC Pindar (98).

Overall standings: 1 Alinghi (28 points), 2 The Wave, Muscat (26), 3 Emirates Team New Zealand (24), 4 Realteam (22), 5 Gazprom Team Russia (15), 6 Groupama Sailing Team (12), 7 Red Bull Sailing Team (11), 8 J P Morgan BAR (10), 9 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (9), 10 Oman Air (8), 11 GAC Pindar (3).


Muscat Daily

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