Never has the conclusion of an Extreme Sailing Series season been so uncertain, so nailbiting, but The Wave, Muscat, held their nerve to win the final Act in Rio de Janeiro and with it, overall victory in the 2012 Series.
Oman Air had a strong finish to sail past Red Bull for 3rd place in Rio, good enough to give them 2nd overall in the Series.
The two Omani boats could hardly have wished for a better conclusion to an exciting and dramatic season that began in Muscat and took the teams around the world to China, Istanbul, Portugal, Great Britain, France and finally Brazil.
Leigh McMillan, the skipper of The Wave, Muscat, said this was the most nerve-wracking conclusion to any season of the Extreme Sailing Series. “We’ve had some lucky moments at times, but thanks to the guys around me, they always keep me in good shape, keep me looking forwards at the next opportunity.” The start of the final double-points race in Rio was just such an example. “Just before the start we saw some big gusts coming down the right-hand side of the course, so we set up to start by the committee boat. But then the breeze shut down, and it looked like it was all over for us.” After starting dead last, The Wave, Muscat, sniffed out some new breeze and within two minutes was back up in the top three.
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild also came through strongly to win the final race, but a second place for McMillan was sufficient to give The Wave, Muscat, victory in Rio de Janeiro with 192.2 points, a mere 0.2 points ahead of the French team.
Hashim Al Rashdi’s participation in today’s excitement was in doubt after the Omani bowman was injured in a collision between The Wave, Muscat, and Team Brasil yesterday. “I had some painkiller injections for my back,” said Al Rashdi. “Even if there was still some pain, I gave 100 per cent today, and I’m very, very happy to win the Extreme Sailing Series. It has been a great, great day.”
Oman Air climbed up to 3rd place on the Rio podium in the dying moments of the final race. Morgan Larson’s team were vying with Red Bull Sailing Team, who at one point in the final race were looking like they might even take victory in Rio. But the fickle wind continued to play its cruel tricks on Guanabara Bay and Red Bull faded badly on the final lap. “It was unfortunate for Red Bull, and it wasn’t at all easy out there. But I’ve got to be pretty happy with it all on Oman Air. This event has been a high point for us. There were plenty of opportunities for us to unfold as a team, and we had some tough moments at the back in some races. But everybody on the team always kept their chin up, stayed positive even when things weren’t going great. Today was a great test of our character and I’m really happy how things worked out for us.”
Oman Air’s bowman Nasser Al Mashari looked back on a great year with enormous pride. “It was a very hard day today, but it ended well for Oman with two teams in 1st and 2ndoverall. It is a historic day for sailing in Oman, a great way to celebrate the past five years of the Oman Sail project.” Al Mashari said he hoped the achievements of the two Omani Extreme Sailing Series teams would inspire young Omanis to try sailing for themselves. “The door is open for anyone to learn to sail, and I hope that one day we will see Oman represented at the Olympic Games.”
Michael Lenarduzzi, CEO of The Wave, Muscat, commented: “The continued success of our boat in the series is testimony to the world class sailing talent and development programs for young sailors available in Oman. With the success of the Extreme Sailing Series boat we have witnessed the development of a new sailing school at The Wave, Muscat which is spearheading the training of tomorrow’s world class sailors and bringing regional and international attention to our new world class marina facilities at The Wave.
“Congratulations to the whole The Wave, Muscat team on their success in the series in 2012 and for highlighting the great talent emerging in Oman,” added Lenarduzzi.
Images: Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images
Text: Oman Sail / Oman Air