Hamburg is fast gaining a reputation for drama after another action-packed day which left The Wave, Muscat edging up the leaderboard to within a point of the top and Oman Air running into form with two dazzling wins.
The wind sweeping through the River Elbe proved to be wild and gusty in line with the forecast which forced crews to put safety above all other considerations yet in the penultimate race of the day, SAP Extreme Sailing Team was hit by a violent gust and capsized. Thankfully no one was injured.
“The SAP capsize was eye opening,” said Oman Air skipper Stevie Morrison.
“It makes you realise these are big powerful boats with no keel and they fall over. When it gets as crazy as it did today with the storms and the wind, it is important to stay safe. The priority is getting to the finish.”
Morrison was delighted to have posted two wins and although Oman Air remains in sixth place, the pressure within the top six is starting to build with just 20 points separating them and a full day’s racing remaining culminating in a double points finale.
“It was a better day for us though we didn’t get the starts we wanted,” added Morrison.
“There were more decisions we were surprised about but morale in the team remains high. We fought very hard and felt it was one of our better days.”
The wins came as a confidence booster, said bowman Ali Al Balushi, who admitted to feeling happier with their performances.
“To win two races was great and made it exciting. We feel like we are sailing well but we haven’t seen it in the results. We still need to improve, especially our starts.
“The wind was strong but we are strong on board – we have to be focussed so hopefully we can do the same again tomorrow and end up on the podium. We put together a couple of solid scores so we are much happier and very proud.”
Leigh McMillan, skipper of The Wave, Muscat was less happy even though his team moved up one place on the leaderboard to second, just one point behind SAP Extreme.
“We are very pleased to have climbed up to second and a bit surprised because we had a lot of frustrating moments,” he said.
“But it means that tomorrow we can go out and fight for the lead and we have a good chance.”
The weather posed problems for the entire fleet, McMillan said and at times, it was touch and go.
“When the gust came through, we realised we needed to get the boat back to the dock. I caught a glimpse of SAP going over – it was a massive gust and it could have happened to any of us,” he said.
Double Olympic gold medallist and The Wave, Muscat crewmember, Sarah Ayton, was confident in the team. “When the breeze pipes up you go into survival mode so the priority is getting round the course. Capsizes happen but the boys on The Wave, Muscat are brilliant at sailing this boat and know when to change gear and back off.”
More changes to the leaderboard are expected during the final day of racing as the fleet battles it out for vital points. Follow the action live at www.extremesailingseries.com.