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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 09/12/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) As the eighth and final leg of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series reached the halfway stage in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday, the contest only got tighter, with just four points separating the top five teams on the leaderboard.After the second day's races, Red Bull Sailing Team of Austria rocketed to the top spot, followed by Oman Sail's The Wave, Muscat on second. Strong contender Groupe Edmond de Rothschild of France recovered from a relatively poor first day to take the third position - a solid jump of four places.Oman's other team in fray, Oman Air, is on fourth, followed by Switzerland's Alinghi on No 5.On points, Red Bull is tied with The Wave, Muscat with 81, Groupe Edmond is just behind with 80 points, Oman Air (79) is a further one point below, followed by Alinghi (77).With two days and 20 races to go, all five teams are in contention for the top position in the concluding leg of the 2012 series.Going into the final race on Friday, three teams were tied on points in the top spot - The Wave, Muscat, Groupe Edmond and Oman Air. A second-place finish enabled Red Bull to jump from fourth to first.Roman Hagara, skipper of Red Bull, said, Yesterday [on day one], we made a lot of mistakes. Today, we improved a little bit, but we still aren't happy. It did turn out well at the end of the day, but we will have to pick it up for the last two days to come out on top. We've got a chance to be on the podium in the overall standings, that's the goal for the team, and that's what we are fighting for.Leigh McMillan, skipper of The Wave, Muscat, isn't too happy as his team is yet to secure a race win in Rio. It was a frustrating day, we really felt like we were struggling and battling our way around in the middle of the fleet, he said. It's a surprise to find we are still in the hunt, to be honest. That's a huge positive for the team as we are feeling pretty down. We can take some relief from that and come back fighting.McMillan praised teammate and Omani bowman Hashim al Rashdi. He is sailing well despite the difficult conditions, which are constantly changing, McMillan said. It's wind on' and wind off' and Hashim is having to run around, reacting to some really difficult conditions. He's doing a great job.Oman Air had a decent day out as two race wins took it close to Groupe Edmond. The sultanate team made good progress on Friday after its Extreme40 boat suffered damage the previous day following a collision with Red Bull.Oman Air skipper Morgan Larson said after the second day's action, The boat is as good as it was when it was brand new. So we were happy to perform decently today.'Oman Air's Omani crewman, Nasser al Mashari, said, It was a long and hot day. The wind was up and down with big gusts and lulls, but it was pretty good. We had a couple of firsts and a couple in the middle, so I am happy with the result. But we have another two days and everyday things can change. We hope to get more points.'The conditions off the Flamengo beach were demanding; there was a light breeze with gusts funnelling off the surrounding mountains, which Torben Grael, local expert and skipper of wildcard entry Team Brasil, said is the norm at this venue.The racing, however, was no less intense, and eight races saw four different winners with Groupe Edmond taking the lion's share, clinching four wins.


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