The Oman Air team stretched their lead over their Extreme Sailing Series rivals in a testing day of racing at the Hamburg venue.
With five different winners from the seven races run on the tight River Elbe courses in the heart of the German port city, consistent sailing saw Oman Air take an eight point advantage into Sunday’s finale of the four-day regatta.
While skipper Phil Robertson’s veteran crew were not able to add to their two victories on the first day of racing, four second places and mixed fortunes amongst their main challengers allowed them to extend their overnight leaderboard advantage by two points.
The Oman Air team of Robertson, Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari, James Wierzbowski and Ed Smyth have 92 points, with Red Bull Sailing Team and SAP Extreme Sailing Team behind them tied on 84 points. It is a strong position, though none are taking anything for granted.
“We started really well then struggled a bit at the end when the current changed,” said Robertson. “We also showed that you don’t have to win a race to win the day, or an event – consistency is everything and we managed to stay near the top for most races.
“It’s nice to have a buffer now, but it is so easy to lose eight points in this fleet, in one or two races it can be all gone. But it’s nice to have had two good days in a row.”
Robertson’s cautious optimism was mirrored by Greenhalgh, Oman Air’s mainsheet trimmer and tactician: “We were really pleased to extend our lead, and happy with most of the day, sailing really well. It’s good to have an advantage going into the final day but there is plenty more racing to be done. The team are on great form and we just want to get more races in and keep chipping away.”
Bowman Al Mashari added: “We started well today with three second places and we were able to maintain our overall lead, so it is a good position to be in. Anything can happen on the final day but it would be great to build on our success in Barcelona and take another win here in Hamburg.”
After outright victory in the most recent Extreme Sailing Series Act in Barcelona, Oman Air arrived in Hamburg a single point adrift of the season’s overall joint leaders SAP and Alinghi. A second Act win in 2017 – and a repeat of their Hamburg success last year – could see them overhaul both to go top.
A complete lack of wind saw racing cancelled on the first day in Germany, and abrupt and dramatic windshifts resulted in just two races being completed on day two. Though the rain remained a feature on day three, and strong tidal flows were again challenging, the wind was at least a little stronger.
SAP again showed why they are potential champion contenders by winning the first race of the day, but then dropped points with two false starts and missing a change in the course. Alinghi struggled in the early races before winning the last two, though finished the day in fourth place, a full 10 points behind Oman Air.
In the Flying Phantom Series, meanwhile, Oman Sail ended their second day of racing in fifth place overall after a total of eight races.
The rotating crew of Thomas Normand, Ahmed Al Hasani and Antoine Joubert added a second place finish to their roster of results among the 12-strong fleet of two-man foiling catamarans.