Muscat: A forecast for the breeze to build in Qingdao never materialised so the foiling action on the opening day of the Extreme Sailing Series in China was restricted to one race giving Oman Sail’s GC32 Oman Air only the briefest glimpse of what lies in store over the next three days.
Qingdao, the Olympic sailing venue in 2008, is notorious for dispensing random and unpredictable conditions but a soft breeze, which nudged boats over the line to open the event, faded to nothing in race 2 and Extreme Sailing Series race director Phil Lawrence had no choice but to send the boats back in.
“It was supposed to be windy but the southerly breeze never appeared,” said Oman Air’s skipper Morgan Larson discussing a day in which little had gone their way. They will start tomorrow in 7th place overall with plenty still to do to catch leaders LandRover BAR.
At the start of the day’s only race, Oman Air touched a mark and were penalised which put them to the back of the fleet and conditions prevented any recovery.
“There was a bit of current and we hit the pin end mark so we had to do a penalty turn. We still had a chance because we were leading at the bottom mark but we didn’t play it right. We were one tough decision away from a good result – that is just the way it is sometimes.
“Tomorrow is supposed to be windy but who knows what will happen.”
On the evidence of the one race, Larson admits that his old adversary Leigh McMillan, helming LandRover BAR Academy was looking like the man to beat.
“Leigh McMillan has so much experience in Qingdao that I think he will be the one who will be in there at the end so we have our sights set on him - maybe he and I can have one of our classic battles.”
McMillan was previously helmsman of Oman Sail’s The Wave, Muscat and for four years, he and Larson, who was then Alinghi’s skipper, were fierce competitors on the water. Their rivalry in the Extreme Sailing Series became one of the most famous head-to-heads in world sailing and the signs clearly are for a continuation in the GC32 class.
It was a frustrating day all round, commented race director Lawrence but tomorrow was looking more promising.
“The forecast today was very good but the wind never materialised and we were only able to get one race completed.
“We did try two or three other races but we were forced to abandon due to lack of wind. The forecast is good tomorrow so hopefully we can catch up with the schedule.”
Racing continues on Saturday when the teams take to the Stadium inside Fushan Bay.