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Sailing: Oman Air finish fourth in San Diego, look ahead to ESS final in Mexico
October 23, 2017 | 1:31 PM
by Times News Service
Oman Air team will go to Mexico 'prepared for a hard battle' with their rivals. Photo - Supplied
 
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Muscat: The Oman Air Extreme Sailing Series (ESS) team signed-off in San Diego secure in second place overall in the season and with their sights set on the finale in Mexico.

After four days of intense competition in southern California, the veteran crew of the foiling GC32 catamaran know that the unique double points scoring format in Los Cabos at the end of next month will leave the destination of the 2017 title in doubt right to the end.

In San Diego, Oman Air’s intense, close-quarter competition for the final place on the podium with Red Bull Sailing Team continued into the fourth and final day, the two teams trading places around the course.

Going into the 25th and final race the two were tied on points, setting up a winner-takes-all contest in front of thousands of spectators out on the water and lining San Diego’s Harbor Island shoreline.



Phil Robertson’s crew of Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari, Ed Smyth and James Wierzbowski led at one point but could not ultimately keep Red Bull behind them and finished the San Diego Act in fourth place.

“It has been a very, very hard event in San Diego. The whole fleet is sailing at a very high level,” said Oman Air bowman Al Mashari.

“We tried to do our best on the water and it didn’t quite work as we hoped, but we have one more event in Mexico so we will push as hard as we can to have a better event and be on the podium.”

Act winners SAP Extreme Sailing Team had taken the lead at the half-way point in San Diego, and were able to fend off a determined Alinghi team to win and consolidate their overall season lead.

The Danish-flagged SAP now has a season total of 78 points, a five point advantage over Oman Sail with 73. Going into the Mexican final third place Alinghi are close behind with 72 points, with Red Bull back in fourth on 66.

Al Mashari added: “We will go to Mexico prepared for a hard battle with SAP and Alinghi. We will go there determined to fight our way back to the top of the table.

“We have come from behind a few times this season. We had back-to-back wins in Barcelona and Hamburg, so we know we can beat anyone in the fleet.”

Though by their high standards perhaps a disappointing regatta in San Diego, the Oman Air team can leave the US West Coast venue with one record – they hit the top recorded speed of the Act with 29.25 knots.

In the accompanying Extreme San Diego Foil Kiteboarding racing, France’s Alex Mazella maintained his lead in the invitational event, with the UK’s Oli Bridge moving up to second spot. Both racers will be heading to Muscat next month for the Oman Sail organised Formula Kite World Championships, along with the best riders in the fast-growing international sport.

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