Chris Draper returns to Oman Air
Oman Sail has announced that Britain’s Chris Draper, double World Champion and Olympic Bronze medallist in the 49er class, will be stepping into the role of skipper on their Extreme 40 Oman Air for the final Act of the Extreme Sailing Series in Singapore. Draper will be taking to the helm for what is sure to be five days of intense racing, over 7–11 December, and after two years away from the Extreme 40s, he is looking forward to mixing up the fleet for the final event.
Draper will be replacing triple Olympic Gold medalist Ben Ainslie, who skippered Oman Air for the last three European legs of the Series, in a break from his 2012 Olympic preparations. Despite being his first multihull experience, Ainslie quickly took to the Extreme 40, leading Oman Air to their first podium finish of the series, securing top three finishes in Trapani and Almeria.
With 10 boats competing in Singapore, Draper reflected on the pressure of coming into the Series so late in the game: “It is going to be really hard coming in for the last event when all the teams are at the top of their game. On the plus side though we will head to Singapore with nothing to loose, and everything to gain and for certain there is plenty of fun exiting racing to be had. I am very excited about getting my hands on the old girls stick again!”
An Olympic Bronze medalist for Team GBR at Athens 2004, Draper is no stranger to Extreme 40 sailing. In 2008 he took the helm of Oman Sail’s Masirah, and after finishing fourth in his debut series, went on to lead the team to victory in 2009, after winning four of the six events. Chris will be joining David ‘Freddie’ Carr, part of his 2009 Series winning team, as well as Australian tactician Kinley Fowler and Omani Bowman Nasser Al Mashari.
Draper said: “On a personal level it is great to be able to join Oman Sail again, I had a great time sailing for them previously and have very fond memories of my time steering Masirah, especially the season in 2009 when we won the circuit.”
Draper is currently helmsman for Team Korea in the Americas Cup, and sailing with Oman Sail during the event in Singapore fits in well with his AC training schedule. Known as the ‘White Tiger Challenge’, Team Korea is the first ever entry from Korea in the history of the America’s Cup, and Chris recently led the team to a second place finish at the AC World Series Match Racing Championship in Plymouth, and fifth in the Fleet Racing Championships.
After eight hard-fought legs and going into the final in Singapore, Oman Air is currently eighth overall with 47 points. Their teammates, and reigning champions The Wave, Muscat, are fifth with 57 points and within striking distance of the podium, while the Italians on Luna Rossa lead the series with 69 points, just one point ahead of the French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.