CASCAIS, Portugal: On a day that saw gusty conditions in Cascais with the seven-strong fleet of GC32 foiling catamarans hitting top speeds of around 30 knots, Oman Air emerged from the close competition with six podium finishes in the eight races held.
The opening phase of the four-day regatta saw the Oman Air team of Phil Robertson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Stewart Dodson and Nasser Al Mashari on 81 points, six behind leaders Alinghi but clear ahead of INEOS Rebels UK and long-term rivals SAP Extreme Sailing Team.
And the Portuguese venue west of Lisbon delivered conditions that delighted the Oman Air crew, and their New Zealand skipper Robertson in particular.
“It was really nice, a perfect temperature with flat water with awesome foiling and plenty of breeze, and you couldn’t ask more of a location that it gives you all out racing,” he said.
“It was a pretty fruity day to be honest, it got pretty exciting at times. All in all, we sailed really well as a team and we were really happy with our performance.
“It was the kind of day when little errors could be very costly, and we didn’t make too many!”
And he added: “If there is more of this tomorrow we will be more than happy – and it looks like the breeze is going to stay in place.”
The crew went to Cascais knowing that a win could see them go top of the Extreme Sailing Series table, overhauling current joint leaders Alinghi and SAP who are just a single point ahead.
“We took a third place in Muscat in March at the beginning of the season, and then we were second in both Italy and Barcelona,” said Al Mashari, Oman Air bowman.
“All the crew have come to Portugal with the aim of earning a win here, which is right in the middle of the Extreme season. If we can do that we could leave here in the lead.”
Hosted by the Clube Naval de Cascais as part of its 80th birthday celebrations, racing continues in Portugal concluding on Sunday.