Leigh McMillan’s Sultanate of Oman GC32 crew are riding high as they kick off their Trofeo di Roma campaign with a lead in the 2015 Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour rankings, a win at last weekend’s Extreme Sailing Series and some exciting news from the foiling racing circuit adding extra impetus to their preparations.
Fresh from their Extreme 40 victory in St Petersburg, Russia, McMillan and his squad of racing professionals arrived at the historic port of Civitavecchia, 45 minutes drive northwest of Italy’s capital ready to make the switch to foils.
The Trofeo di Roma is the first event to be held since it was announced that the Extreme Sailing Series will be phasing out their Extreme 40 catamarans, which have no foils, to the airborne GC32s, regarded as the future of high performance multihull racing.
The news was welcomed by McMillan, one of the most respected multihull skippers in the world who is currently leading both circuits.
“We are thrilled the Extreme Sailing Series is heading in the direction of foiling using the GC32s,” said McMillan.
“Having raced the GC32 this season we love the boat and think it has a lot of potential. Foiling is where the sport is going. It will be amazing for spectators and great fun for the sailors so it is very exciting and a real boost.”
Arriving in Civitavecchia to prepare for the fourth event in the 2015 Bullitt Racing Tour, the Sultanate of Oman crew found a venue filled with two vital components: a Mediterranean sea breeze and an abundance of Italian food.
Alongside the boatyard is the ‘Terminal del Gusto’, a food fair showcasing the best in Italian food and drink but despite that distraction, it was the wind that was clocked before anything else.
“Civitavecchia looks like a lovely venue and we think we’ll get a thermal sea breeze between 10 and 15 knots which will make for great foiling conditions,” said Peter Greenhalgh, who with Nasser Al Mashari and Ed Smyth is a key member of McMillan’s crew on both the Sultanate of Oman and their winning Extreme 40 team The Wave, Muscat.
“This is a strong fleet with Alinghi and Spindrift on top form and other teams raising their game so it will be a real test but hopefully we can quickly find our feet and get up to speed.”
Sultanate of Oman sit at the top of the Bullitt GC32 Racing Tour table with a one point lead over Alinghi and Spindrift just four points adrift but as usual the competition is set to be tight after the three previous events in Austria, Cowes and Kiel producing three different winners.
McMillan’s team, which also features multihull specialist Alister Richardson, won the opening event in Traunsee in Austria then were runners-up at the Cowes Cup in the Isle of Wight after McMillan broke his hand during a manoeuvre.
His replacement Paul Campbell James, the British America’s Cup sailor was called up again to replace Greenhalgh in Hamburg where Sultanate of Oman finished in third place.
Racing in the Trofeo di Roma, which is the GC32 Racing Tour’s first event to be held in Italy, takes place over 27-30 August, with the start of racing at 1130 daily. Large crowds are expected since the Luna Rossa team’s challenge for the America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013 captured thousands of new sailing fans though few of them have witnessed the spectacular foiling.