Oman Air were today crowned kings of Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series following a tense finale that saw them only just manage to hold off a late charge from rivals Red Bull Sailing Team.
Morgan Larson’s men went into the fourth and final day of racing in Cardiff Bay with a commanding 17-point lead following a string of top results executed with trademark consistency throughout the Act. When they finished second in the first four races it looked like they would breeze to glory, but just as it looked like victory was sewn up Red Bull Sailing Team mounted a spirited comeback.
With the bit firmly between their teeth, Roman Hagara’s men turned on the afterburners winning one of the final four races and finishing second in the other three. Clearly rattled, Oman Air recorded their worst result of the regatta in the final race of the day when they finished last in the seven-boat fleet. However they had done just enough earlier on in the day to guarantee victory, sneaking the overall win by just six points after 29 races.
The victory is the second for the Omani-backed team in three Acts, adding to their success in the Series opener on home waters of Muscat. It also sees them extend their overall lead in the Series standings after three events.
“We’re feeling fantastic,” Larson said. “It was a tough end to the day but we did what we needed to do. It’s great to come away with a win. Red Bull Sailing Team did an awesome job with their comeback, hats off to those guys. We’ve got a couple of weeks now to enjoy some time out before we regroup for Hamburg.”
Red Bull Sailing Team skipper Hagara, a veteran of the Extreme Sailing Series, said his crew’s comeback was proof that they can win the outright title. The result also propels them into second on the overall scoreboard, leapfrogging Swiss crew Alinghi who finished fourth in Cardiff.
“We’re delighted – it was another final day that was almost perfect for us,” Hagara said. “Apart from being over the line in one race we did everything really well. This is a message to the other teams that we mean business. We have the crew to win the Series and now we just have to push.”
Denmark’s SAP Extreme Sailing Team scored their first podium finish of the 2016 season, sneaking ahead of Swiss crew Alinghi by winning the final double points-scoring race of the regatta.
“Winning the last double pointer to get our first podium of the season was a really nice way for us to finish here,” said co-skipper Rasmus Køstner. “We slid down the leaderboard early on in the day and had to dig deep to get it back so we’re really happy. It’s a real step forward for us – in the first two regattas we felt we were sailing well but didn’t get the results.
“We always believed we could be one of the best teams on the Extreme Sailing Series but the beginning of the season was harder than we expected. This time everything came together.”
Taylor Canfield’s CHINA One went into the final day in second after an impressive string of results – but their dreams of finishing on the podium were left in tatters when they were disqualified from the sixth race of the day for sailing outside of the permitted racecourse area.
A third place in the final race couldn’t salvage the result for the team, racing in their first ever Extreme Sailing Series, and they had to settle for a disappointing fifth overall. Diogo Cayolla’s Sail Portugal finished in sixth, just ahead of Land Rover BAR Academy led by 21-year-old Brit Neil Hunter.
The regatta was a perfect showcase for the new GC32 catamarans, with consistent breeze and flat waters providing optimum conditions. The cutting edge foiling boats hit speeds of up to 35 knots over the course of the regatta, providing a spectacle for the crowds that lined the shore to watch.
Thousands of people turned out over the four-day event to enjoy the Stadium Racing and soak up the festival atmosphere of the Race Village, with many even braving the rain on the final day. The Extreme Sailing Series will now head to Hamburg, Germany, for Act 4 from 28 – 31 July.
Extreme Sailing Series Act 3, Cardiff standings after Day 4, 29 races
Position / Team / Points
1st Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 300 points.
2nd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Stewart Dodson, Adam Piggott, Brad Farrand 294 points.
3rd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi De Felice, Renato Conde 286 points.
4th Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 282 points.
5th CHINA One (CHN) Taylor Canfield, Shane Diviney, Hayden Goodrick, Garth Ellingham, Luke Payne 274 points.
6th Sail Portugal (POR) Diogo Cayolla, Javier de la Plaza, Luís Brito, João Matos Rosa, Sam Bell 239 points.
7th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Paul Campbell-James (‘CJ’), Neil Hunter, Will Alloway, Rob Bunce, Adam Kay 161 points.
Extreme Sailing Series 2016 overall standings
Position / Team / Points
1st Oman Air (OMA) 35 points.
2nd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 32 points.
3rd Alinghi (SUI) 30 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 25 points.
5th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) 25 points.
6th CHINA One (CHN) 21 points.
7th Sail Portugal (POR) 20 points.
8th Team Turx (TUR) 11 points.