Please select your home edition
Henri Lloyd 2017 Marine 728x90

Team Oman Air look to preserve their lead at new venue in Madeira

by Oman Sail 21 Sep 2016 18:06 BST 22-25 September 2016
Oman Air team skippered by Morgan Larson with team mates Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari and James Wierzbowski © Lloyd Images

Team Oman Air is intent on upping the ante when racing gets underway at the Extreme Sailing Series' brand new venue in Madeira in a bid to safeguard and increase their five-point overall lead throughout the remaining three events in 2016.

Skipper Morgan Larson admitted that their second place in Act 5 in St Petersburg, finishing six points behind rivals Alinghi, had represented a timely wake-up call and the three events in Madeira, Lisbon and Australia would require greater application and determination if their overall lead was to be maintained or even extended.

"The season is half way done and although we have a five-point lead, we cannot start counting our chickens," he said.

"We need to be in with a shot of winning the championship when the last Act in Sydney starts and to do that we have to sail more determinedly and work harder to make sure our lead isn't eroded between now and then."

The Portuguese Atlantic islands of Madeira, an archipelago comprising four islands off the northwest coast of Africa, is expected to deliver winds of between 8-12 knots which will provide the ideal opportunity to go on the offensive, Larson said.

"After St Petersburg, the feeling was good because we sailed well but we didn't nail it when it really counted.

"So I think we need to be a bit more assertive in our balancing of risk and reward. Sometimes when you are out ahead, you can get a bit conservative and protect your lead but history tells you that you cannot afford to do that in this fleet.

"You always have to be offensive rather than defensive so Russia was a bit of a wake- up call and that is good."

Snapping at their heels as usual is Alinghi, the Swiss team that Larson skippered for the past two years before moving back to Oman Air. Their win in St Petersburg narrowed the gap at the top of the table to five points so there is now extra pressure on Larson and his crew to make sure his old team make no further gains.

"When you are racing against your old teammates you want to prove you can beat them," he said.

"I have a lot of respect for the Alinghi guys and know they are strong in a lot of areas so it makes for great racing but I want to beat them simply because they are one of the best teams and it is always satisfying beating the best teams.

"I enjoy the pressure. It's what drives me – and makes me feel good. The whole team responds well to pressure."

As previous winners of the Extreme Sailing Series, Oman Air's Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth and Nasser Al Mashari are known to relish pressure situations while James Wierzbowski, the only member of the Oman Air crew who has never stood on the winner's podium at the end of the series is keen to collect his winners medal in 2016.

But Madeira will be a challenge for all of them, admitted Al Mashari, Oman's star bowman.

"No one has raced in Madeira before so we are quite excited and we are looking forward to it," he said.

"We know there is a potential for a 15 knot wind but it sounds like a good venue and it will make the racing more fun because no one knows what will happen next. We will be focussed and determined to step up to the top of the podium again."

Racing in Madeira will comprise a mix of open water racing and the Series' signature Stadium Racing starting on Thursday 22 September just off the shore of Marina Funchal.

The free to enter public Race Village is open daily from 22 – 25 September but fans from further afield can enjoy multi-media coverage and live streaming of the on-the-water action online on Saturday September 24 and Sunday September 25.

Related Articles

Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 6, Madeira day 3
Swiss stars Alinghi lose mast in collision The Extreme Sailing Series™ lived up to its name on the penultimate day of Act 6 in Madeira as a collision between rivals Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team resulted in the Swiss crew losing their mast. Posted on 24 Sep 2016
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Hamburg overall
Final race shoot-out sees the narrowest of victories Only one crucial, leaderboard changing double points race was sailed on the final day of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ in Hamburg that saw Morgan Larson and his team on Oman Air snatch victory from the hands of Alinghi by just one point. Posted on 31 Jul 2016
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Hamburg day 3
Thousands watch as Alinghi give a masterclass Hamburg lived up to its reputation for delivering edge of the seat Stadium Racing today as it played host to some of the most exciting action of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ so far. Posted on 30 Jul 2016
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Hamburg day 2
SAP Extreme Sailing Team and Alinghi apply the pressure A sunny day on the River Elbe coupled with a lively breeze saw SAP Extreme Sailing Team and Alinghi challenge Oman Air for honours on the second day of the Extreme Sailing Series™ in Hamburg. Posted on 29 Jul 2016
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Hamburg day 1
Oman Air sneak early lead despite a bump on the nose Hamburg's River Elbe in the HafenCity area was transformed into the ultimate test in Stadium Racing today, with the narrow river, passing traffic, high walls, shifty light winds and strong currents challenging the fleet on the opening day. Posted on 28 Jul 2016
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Hamburg preview
Less than a week to racing on the River Elbe After three action-packed Acts in Oman, China and Wales, the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ season is now approaching the halfway mark. Today there is just one week to go until the fleet of GC32s takes to the waters of Germany's "Gateway to the World". Posted on 24 Jul 2016
Extreme Sailing Series Programme 2
Watch the action from Cardiff From 23-26 June 2016 the fleet of seven GC32 high-speed catamarans paid a flying visit to the UK, for four days of intense competition on the waters of Cardiff Bay. Posted on 23 Jul 2016
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3 overall
Oman Air win Act 3 in dramatic style Oman Air were today crowned kings of Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series™ following a tense finale that saw them only just manage to hold off a late charge from rivals Red Bull Sailing Team. Posted on 27 Jun 2016
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3 day 3
Oman Air masterclass in Cardiff Extreme Sailing Series™ maestro Morgan Larson will take his Oman Air team into the finale of Act 3, Cardiff in pole position following a masterclass of big breeze sailing. Posted on 25 Jun 2016
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 3 day 2
Leaderboard compresses in Cardiff Bay Cardiff Bay lived up to its reputation for delivering wet and wild racing today as it played host to some of the most exciting action of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ so far. Posted on 24 Jun 2016