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Full focus on board Oman Air for St Petersburg round of Extreme Sailing Series™

by Oman Sail 30 Aug 2016 13:48 BST 1-4 September 2016
Oman Air team skippered by Morgan Larson (USA) with team mates Pete Greenhalgh (GBR) Ed Smyth (NZL) , Nasser Al Mashari (OMA) and James Wierzbowski © Lloyd Images

Oman Air is leading the Extreme Sailing Series 2016 after four Acts and is backing a 'sensible' plan for St Petersburg to guard against mistakes on a notoriously tricky race course and trapdoor twists in the rankings.

With a five-point lead on the overall scoreboard, following their last gasp win in Hamburg, the pressure is on to maintain 100% focus to make sure they perform to their maximum capabilities right up until the final race in Sydney in December.

In Hamburg, where a tight stadium race course and fluky winds proved challenging for the entire fleet, Morgan Larson's team came away with their third win of the year but only by a single point following a close and compelling tussle with rivals Alinghi.

"The Neva River in St Petersburg is a stadium race course similar to the one in Hamburg so I think it will be close again," predicted Oman Air tactician and trimmer Pete Greenhalgh who once again teams up with Nasser Al Mashari, Ed Smyth and James Wierzbowski.

"But we quite like these tight race courses and learned a lot in Hamburg so if we can keep things together in the boat and put into practice some of the techniques we learned on the Elbe, we can up our speeds and performance."

"We are five points ahead on the leaderboard so the challenge is now to keep our foot on the gas while at the same time staying sensible. Remember the final event in Sydney is double points so at this stage, we need all the points we can get."

Since St Petersburg was introduced onto the Extreme Sailing Series circuit in 2014, Oman Sail's boats have had mixed fortunes on the restricted Neva race course, which is flanked on both sides by the Winter Palace and Peter and Paul Fortresses.

And with the new foiling GC32s, the competition is wide-open, Greenhalgh said, and Oman Air has a lot to do to stay on top of their game.

"I don't feel we have reached our peak yet and think there is more to come but that is the case for the other teams too, there may very well be more to come from them. We are all still learning about these boats and new venues always throw up something different.

Omani bowman Nasser Al Mashari returns for his third visit to the Russian capital and is hoping the conditions, which in previous years have featured everything from an ultra-light shifty breeze to big booming gusts, are suited to another round of close exciting racing.

"We have had some big winds here since we arrived and there is a strong current. Our aim is to make sure we are still in the mix come the final race," he said.

Racing starts on Thursday September 1 and continues through to Sunday September 4. Fans can watch Act 5 racing live on the official website and YachtsandYachting.com homepage from 15:30 – 17:00 GMT+3 on 3 and 4 September.

For more information, visit www.extremesailingseries.com