Mark Lloyd / Extreme Sailing Series

Oman Sail 1-2

Strong start for Leigh McMillan's team at the Extreme Sailing Series Cardiff, despite collision

Thursday June 18th 2015, Author: Nicola Dawson, Location: United Kingdom

Ten exhausting and fast-paced, short, sharp races were held on the first of four days of racing at the Extreme Sailing Series in Cardiff presented by Land Rover. The eight teams were put to the test on Cardiff's typically tricky race course, contending with 40° shifts and 23 knot gusts.

The Wave, Muscat may have won the day with an 11-point lead at the close of play, she didn’t have it all her own way. A collision in the third race at the windward mark with SAP Extreme Sailing Team resulted in serious damage to the Omani boat's tiller bar. Despite the crunch of cracking carbon, none of the crew were hurt, but with the damage irreparable on the water, the team limped back to the pit lane for repairs. Five races later, tiller bar replaced, The Wave, Muscat came back fighting, with two wins and a third in the final three races of the day – the defending Cardiff ESS champions top leaderboard on 90 points (with redress).

Back on dry land British Olympian Leigh McMillan explained: “We had a manic repair trying to get our broken tiller fixed, it was quite technical and difficult trying to get the rudders back on in a fashion where they are actually going to steer the boat.

“We really needed to nail it because the average points were going to make a massive difference to the overall scores and if we had a few bad races it really could have ruined our day. It was quite tricky to get into the rhythm, but we managed to come out on top… just.”

Eleven points behind The Wave, Muscat in second place, Oman Air had an outstanding day, consistently hitting the podium in eight out of the ten races – the predominantly British crew, led by Olympic 49er sailor Stevie Morrison, is setting a course for its first podium finish of the season.

“It was such a long day, but we kept consistent apart from the last couple of races which were quite frustrating; we made some sloppy mistakes, probably from tiredness, but we are happy enough,” explained Morrison. “The Wave, Muscat has taken the lead with its average points, but it doesn’t really matter to us this early on; we just put that down to age and experience.”

Despite their chilled out approach the Oman Air boys will have to work hard to stay ahead of the game, with current overall Series leaders SAP Extreme Sailing Team just two points adrift on 77 and rounding off the overnight leaderboard. The fastest boat on the water and sailing the shortest course according to SAP Analytics, the Danish team had a shaky start to the day, but, five races in, the team finally clicked into gear, finishing the day with five podium results.

The final word of the day comes from British Olympian Chris Draper, who has returned to the fleet as co-skipper aboard GAC Pindar after a three year absence: “It was glamour sailing and really good fun; it was perfect, it couldn’t really have been any better. You could push the boats as hard as you can, and there were a few moments where we had to back off which is always exciting. The boats are still awesome to sail, but it’s seriously hard work.”

Racing continues tomorrow from 14.00 BST


1. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 90 points.
2. Oman Air (OMA) Stevie Morrison, Nic Asher, Ted Hackney, Ed Powys, Ali Al Balashi 79 points.
3. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Mads Emil Stephensen, Brad Farrand 77 points.
4. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Hans Peter Steinacher, Jason Waterhouse, Jeremy Bachelin, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 74 points.
5. GAC Pindar (GBR) Chris Draper, Seve Jarvin, Tyson Lamond, James Wierzbowski, Kazuhiko Sofuku 73 points.
6. Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Alexander Bozhko, Aleksey Kulakov 66 points.
7. Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes (TUR) Mitch Booth, Can Bayulken, Selim Kakış, Diogo Cayolla, Pedro Andrade 46 points.
8. Lino Sonego Team Italia (ITA) Lorenzo Bressani, Enrico Zennaro, Andrea Tesei, Tom Buggy, Stefano Ciampalini 45 points.

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