Team Oman Air have everything to play for going into the back half of the Extreme Sailing Series’ second round after racing in Qingdao, China, was abandoned today due to light winds.
Skipper Phil Robertson’s men spent almost three hours poised for action as they waited for the breeze to materialise but, unlike yesterday’s opener when a 15-knot wind appeared halfway through the afternoon, it wasn’t to be.
The lack of scoring opportunities means the Omani-flagged crew will go into the penultimate day in Fushan Bay in fifth place but only ten points behind regatta leaders Alinghi and just six points shy of the podium.
With the final race of the regatta on Monday counting for double points, Oman Air still have plenty of chances ahead of them to climb the leaderboard and add another podium finish to the third overall they scored in the Extreme Sailing Series curtain raiser in Muscat last month.
Oman Air veteran crewman Pete Greenhalgh said patience was the key to success with the promise of better breeze forecast for tomorrow.
“The wind just didn’t play ball today but we have days like this every now and again,” said Greenhalgh, Oman Air’s mainsail trimmer and tactician.
“The nature of sailing is that you’re at the mercy of the weather but for every day that there’s no wind you get a day of perfect sailing.
“We’ve just got to be patient and the wind will come. Hopefully over the next two days we’ll have conditions that allow us to race and we can get some action in.”
The team, which also features Omani sailing star Nasser Al Mashari, Kiwi racer Ed Smyth and Australian James Wierzbowski, scored a third in yesterday’s opening race before following it up with a seventh and a fifth.
Despite being disappointed at being denied the chance to claw back points today, Greenhalgh said the team would come out firing when racing resumes tomorrow at 1400 local time (UTC+8).
“We were desperate to race today so that we could get some more scores on the board but the points are still close and we just have to chip away at the leaders over the next two days,” he added.
“Some teams have their luck at the beginning of an event and some have it at the end, so fingers crossed we’re due for some. The forecast is for better wind tomorrow so hopefully Qingdao will turn it on for us.”
Al Mashari, Oman Air’s bowman, said the team must regard the penultimate day with the same importance as if it was the regatta finale to ensure they’re in with a shot at glory.
“We waited almost three hours for the wind today but unfortunately it just didn’t come,” he said. “We have two more days yet so we need to stay focused and treat them like they’re the final day.
“We’re ready for any conditions that Qingdao throws at us, whether that’s light or strong wind, and we are determined to get better and better.”