Last year’s wild and gusty winds gave way to light simmering airs in Hamburg today but the Oman Sail squad onboard Oman Air were quick to master the conditions to take maximum points from the two races completed and go top of the overall Extreme Sailing Series Hamburg leaderboard.
The compact River Elbe race course, bordered on all sides by cargo containers and all the handling equipment associated with one of the busiest ports in the world, was expected to be tricky for the GC32 fleet even though the race area had been expanded.
But the light and shifty winds combined with searing hot temperatures meant that only two races were possible of the four scheduled and Morgan Larson’s crew knew they had to concentrate hard to stay out of trouble and earn their victories.
“It was quite tricky but the team did a really good job reading the course so it was back to business as usual for us – just nice consistent conservative sailing,” said Larson.
“Pete Greenhalgh made some great decisions to keep us in the breeze so we were happy to come away with anything in the top three.
“The third race ended up being abandoned and we had started well behind after bumping into the city harbour wall but it was a testament to how shifty and tricky it was and we were happy to be back on shore with no broken bits.”
“It will be nicer tomorrow but still tricky and on the evidence of today it looks like Red Bull will be in contention – they were impressive and look stronger than they have been in the past but everyone will be in with a chance.”
Oman Air, who top the overall 2016 leaderboard with a three-point lead over Red Bull Sailing Team, are top of the table in Hamburg with 24 points after wins in both races while Red Bull and Alinghi are in joint second with 19 points and according to Omani bowman Nasser Al Mashari, their success on the first day was down to some quality sailing.
“It was hot and slow with a lot of current that was the same strength as the wind which made it very difficult,” he explained.
“We did two races and won both so are hoping the next three days will be the same because our teamwork, tactics and boat handling were super.”
Racing continues on Friday July 29th through to Sunday July 31. The action takes place at the HafenCity waterfront in Hamburg and fans online can watch it live on the official website www.extremesailingseries.com from 1600-1730 GMT+2 on 30 July and 1530-1700 GMT+2 on 31 July.