Muscat: A fresh and exciting era for Oman Sail dawns this week when the sailing team aboard Oman Air takes their new foiling GC32 boat in a bid to become the winners of the first 2016 Extreme Sailing Series Act in front of a passionate home crowd in Muscat.
Before racing gets underway at the spectacular Almouj Golf Course on Thursday, the fleet of GC32s will race a series of open races off the coast of Muscat old town before setting off on a coastal race back to Almouj -- another new feature of racing this year -- as a prelude to the hard and fast four-day event, which Larson believes will provide a ‘tell-tale’ sign of what lies ahead for 2016.
“Performances here in Muscat will provide a clue for the season,” said Larson who skippered Oman Air in 2012 when they finished in second place.
“There are a lot of teams that will learn as they go along and get better through the year but whatever results come down in this first event will be a good telltale for the series.”
Larson takes over from Leigh McMillan who in his tenure as skipper of Oman Sail’s The Wave, Muscat became the most successful Extreme sailor in history and he is confident that Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth and Nasser Al Mashari, all stalwarts of McMillan’s crew with a winning habit, will meet the challenges of a brand new contest.
“This event is the first event of the season and racing in front of a home crowd is an added pressure but I think it will mean we’ll perform better.”
James Wierzbowski, a 24 year-old Australian, is the new member of the Oman Sail crew and Larson says he is pleased with the way the team is shaping up.
“This is a new team and it is important for us to sail well and learn lessons that we can build on for the future. It has been a challenge getting to grips with the new boats and we have a lot to learn but the guys have gelled well so far and we are looking forward to it.”
Omani bowman Nasser Al Mashari always get a special buzz from racing in front of friends and family in Muscat and 2016, with the new team, new boat and new race format, is no exception.
“Sailing on home waters in front of a Muscat crowd with all our friends and families is really exciting,” he commented. “We are a new team but we are a strong team with a lot of fight and we always want to do our best to raise the Omani flag high.
“These foiling GC32s are very different to the Extreme 40s – and if it is breezy, it will be spectacular for the public. We raced them last year with Leigh and it was hard work but very enjoyable. It’s a very cool boat, very fast.”
The Race Village at Almouj Golf will be open to the public on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Spectators and families are invited to watch some of the world’s best sailors compete for the first title of the season on the new superfast GC32 foiling boats and enjoy a range of fun family activities.
Fans around the globe can watch the racing live online on the official event website http://www.extremesailingseries.com at the following times: Thursday 17 March 1600-1730 GMT+4, Friday 18 March: 1600-1730 GMT+4.