Muscat: Top of the table Team Oman Air are savouring the prospect of added competition and extra breeze as the penultimate Extreme Sailing Series event of 2016 gets underway in Lisbon, Portugal, later this week.
After two events this year in St Petersburg and Madeira where light winds cut short the race programme, the Omani team are looking forward to recapturing their trademark consistency in a venue that once again is brand new to the Extreme Sailing Series circuit.
Their overall season lead was cut by two points in Madeira and with just two events remaining in 2016, they are eager to return to winning ways in Lisbon with the addition to the line-up of Groupama Team France’s NORAUTO giving Oman Air added impetus, said Pete Greenhalgh, tactician and mainsail trimmer.
“We are really looking forward to Lisbon and competing against NORAUTO as well as Alinghi, especially if there is decent breeze.
If there is good wind, we will get good racing,” he said.
“We really want to win this one after missing out in Madeira. We need to regain some of the consistency we had earlier in the series.
“The light airs require a certain skill set and Alinghi have been fractionally better in the light stuff but we will raise our game, look at our set up, improve our speeds and sail a bit smarter. We know we can do it.”
Oman Air finished in third place in Madeira, 16 points behind Swiss rivals Alinghi after six races and three behind Red Bull Sailing Team who took vital points in the final double pointer race to take second.
It left them with a three-point lead over Alinghi on the overall season leaderboard and keen to move onto Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city where four days of racing are planned, mixing up a longer coastal race with the Series’ signature Stadium Racing format.
Racing in the estuary of the port of Lisbon, which will be tidal, will be a challenge irrespective of the wind which could be either quite strong or quite light, said Oman Air bowman Nasser al Mashari.
“We have never been to Lisbon before so we are excited to be sailing in a new venue,” he said.
“We are confident that after a day or so of training there, we will be ready to go so we just have to do what we do best and make things happen,” he said.
Racing begins on Thursday 6 October and continues through to Sunday 9 October with live on line coverage at www.extremesailingseries.com.
On Saturday and Sunday, there will be live video streaming in addition to twitter updates and the dynamic SAP Sailing Analytics.