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Extreme Sailing Series™ San Diego - Overall

by Extreme Sailing Series 22 Oct 2018 04:48 BST 18-21 October 2018

Tight, tense racing thrilled the Californian crowds that gathered on Harbor Island, as Team Oman Air topped the US Act podium on day four of Extreme Sailing Series™ San Diego – thwarting Alinghi in the final races of the day.

Finishing the Act with an impressively consistent score sheet, the Omani squad scuppered the Swiss team's chances of a fifth Act win this year by implementing carefully calculated match racing techniques as the competition drew to a close.

Despite their hard work to maintain the lead they had held since the start of the San Diego Act, the team onboard Alinghi were unable to defend their winning streak against match racing champion Phil Robertson and his crew: Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari, Stewart Dodson and James Wierzbowski.

The Omani-flagged boat had been snapping at the heels of the Swiss throughout the Act, but had failed to overtake Psarofaghis and his team until the grand finale today.

A formidable battle ensued as the end of racing approached. Race 20, the fifth of the day's six races, saw the two boats line up against each other, forcing one another into unfavourable lanes. As Oman Air approached the top mark, Alinghi dialled them down on starboard, preventing them from tacking into clean air.

Eventually, Oman Air broke free, charging towards the top of the course with Alinghi right behind. Converging at the mark, the boats blocked each other once again, as British INEOS Rebels swung past and down to the finish, taking advantage of the escalating tactical clash at the top of the course. Oman Air finished race 20 just behind the Brits, heading into the final double-points race just three points ahead of the Swiss.

The double points decider was another tense affair. Whilst Alinghi secured the lead early on, Oman Air followed behind, keeping a keen eye on chasing SAP Extreme Sailing Team; Robertson and his crew all were too aware that finishing third would lose them the Act.

After another round of match racing, this time with the Danes, the Omani-flagged boat crossed the line in second, securing them their first Act win of this year - their first win since Hamburg in August 2017.

"We are absolutely stoked," said an elated Robertson. "This has been a long time coming. We've been working pretty hard so its nice to reap the rewards and get a win. It's great to topple Alinghi for once!"

Although disappointed to see the end of his team's winning streak, Alinghi's co-skipper and helm Arnaud Psarofaghis congratulated the Omani team on their San Diego success.

"It was a tough day on the water, but Oman Air deserved to win," he said. "We didn't sail that well overall in San Diego, but you don't need to win every Act to win the season. The guys onboard Alinghi did a really good job today to finish second, it will help us to beat SAP Extreme Sailing Team in Los Cabos, in Mexico."

The Swiss still lead in the overall rankings with one more Act to complete this season.

Although another chance at an Act win has passed for Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team, they did close the day as Zhik Speed Machine trophy winners for being the fastest team on the water, an insight provided by global software giant and Series Technical Partner, SAP.

For the home team, Extreme Sailing Series San Diego, presented by SAP, proved a challenge – but a welcome one. With very little experience sailing together on a GC32, Element Spark Compass performed considerably well throughout the competition, even clocking a second place podium finish on day two.

"It's been an unbelievable event," said the team's US skipper, Taylor Canfield. "It was great sailing on home waters and we've had some good conditions. We struggled a bit in the light winds but we also made some big gains in places. We're finishing the Act with smiles on our faces."

The crews will now begin preparations for the highly anticipated double-points grand finale, Extreme Sailing Series Los Cabos, presented by Element Sports Group, which takes place from 29 November – 2 December.

It's tight at the top – expect a furious fight as the teams take each other down in the final Act of the 2018 season.

Extreme Sailing Series™ 2018 San Diego, presented by SAP, Overall Results: (21 races)

1st Oman Air (OMA) Phil Robertson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Stewart Dodson, Nasser Al Mashari: 233pts
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Timothé Lapauw, Bryan Mettraux, Yves Detrey: 232pts
3rd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Rasmus Køstner, Adam Minoprio, Julius Hallström, Pierluigi de Felice, Richard Mason: 226pts
4th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Dan Morris, Rhys Mara, Micah Wilkinson: 199pts
5th INEOS Rebels UK (GBR) Will Alloway, Leigh McMillan, Oli Greber, Adam Kay, Mark Spearman: 190pts
6th Element Spark Compass (USA) Taylor Canfield, Sam Hallowell, John Wallace, Matt Noble, Mateo Vargas: 159pts
7th Team México (MEX) Erik Brockmann, Tom Buggy, Alex Higby, Tom Phipps, Danel Belausteguigoitia Fierro: 147pts

Extreme Sailing Series™ 2018 Standings:

1st Alinghi (SUI) 68 points
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 65pts
3rd Oman Air (OMA) 63pts
4th INEOS Rebels UK (GBR) 54pts
5th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 50pts
6th Team México (MEX) 42pts

Team Oman Air celebrate Extreme Sailing Series success in San Diego (from Oman Sail)

There were huge smiles all round as Team Oman Air took their first event win of the 2018 Extreme Sailing Series with a dramatic single point victory in San Diego.

The crew of the GC32 foiling catamaran had to scrap for every point in largely light wind conditions, and the overall result was in the balance up to the last manoeuvre of the last leg of the final race.

Skipper Phil Robertson and the crew of Pete Greenhalgh, Stewart Dodson, James Wierzbowski and Nasser Al Mashari celebrated as they crossed the finish line to secure their first regatta win of the year.

Having held second place behind the Swiss team on Alinghi throughout the four-day regatta, the Oman Air crew turned up the wick on the final day with three successive race wins which gave them a narrow three point advantage going into the double-points finale.

Alinghi took the last race win, but smart tactics by Oman Air kept them second ahead of arch-rivals SAP Extreme Sailing Team to secure the Act victory by one point.

"It's been a good day and it just shows you have to fight for every point," said Robertson after celebrating the victory.

"It's tough competition and it's really nice to finally get a win this season. We knew if we kept ourselves right behind Alinghi on the last race and in front of SAP we would be in a good spot."

The San Diego result closes the gap between Oman Air and Extreme Sailing Series season leaders Alinghi and second placed SAP, opening the prospect of a late bid for the title at the double-pointed decider in Mexico next month.

"We're a happy team and have set ourselves up nicely for the last Act in Los Cabos," said Robertson. "We'll be going to Mexico to try and win the event that's for sure, and it's a bit out of hands after that, but the season is never over till it's over, so we will stay focused right to the end."

It's an approach also shared by Greenhalgh, Oman Air's mainsail trimmer, who said: "It's definitely a good feeling to have got a win and the team deserved it, they have been working extremely hard. At this event we have been in it from the beginning and have been able to keep on nudging it up. We will be looking to deliver our best in Mexico."

The pleasure of the hard-earned victory was also shared with the wider team, which includes coaches and vital support crew.

Bowman Al Mashari said: "It's a real team effort – there are eight of us here in San Diego and everyone has a big part to play in the outcome, and we've also got a team back in Oman, so it is a huge team effort.

"It is great to be able to celebrate our first win of the season, and good too to be able to share it with everyone who has played a part in making it happen."

Alinghi lead the 2018 Extreme Sailing Series on 68 points with SAP on 65 and Oman Air with 63. The double-pointed season finale in Los Cabos, Mexico, starting on 29 November, will deliver 24 points to the winner, 22 for second and so on.

Red Bull Sailing Team takes a strong fourth in Extreme Sailing Series™ San Diego (from Red Bull Sailing Team)

Inconsistent winds greeted the return of the Extreme Sailing Series in sunny San Diego, yet with Hagara (skipper and helm) and Steinacher (tactician) on the boat together for the first time all season, Red Bull Sailing got off to a flying start, earning podium finishes in fully fifty percent of the opening day's races and taking a total of nine podiums by the time the regatta concluded on Sunday. With their win in front of the large crowds on Harbor Island, Oman Air broke Alinghi's three-act winning streak and kept the Championship alive with only the finale to go.

"We were really looking forward to returning to San Diego, and it's great to be back on the water and racing in the sunshine here," said Hagara, who took gold in the Tornado class with Steinacher at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. "Hans Peter and I have been sailing so long now that we know each other very well and picked up our rhythm quite quickly. It's like riding a bike, you get right back into it."

Hagara and Steinacher not only lead the Red Bull Sailing Team in the Extreme Sailing Series, but also are the masterminds behind the Red Bull Youth America's Cup and Red Bull Foiling Generation. Joining the Austrian legends on the Red Bull Sailing GC32 in San Diego were Rhys Mara of Australia, Dan Morris of the USA, and young Micah Wilkinson of New Zealand, who with his partner Olivia Mackay won the inaugural Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final in 2016 and the Flying Phantom Series of the Extreme Sailing Series in 2017. Wilkinson also stood on the podium in the 2017 Red Bull Youth America's Cup, and is now aiming for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and very possibly a professional career in the sport.

"I was lucky enough to do Red Bull Foiling Generation and stepped up to the Red Bull Youth America's Cup. Then this week I jumped on the GC32 team for the first time, and it's been an awesome pathway," Wilkinson declared. "Hans and Roman are great mentors. I'm a multi-hull sailor through and through, and these guys are the best at it – sailing legends with two Olympic Gold Medals. It's going to be a lot of hard work toward something like an America's Cup team, but I'm up for it, and it's been a really good stepping stone."

The next generation of youth sailors will have a chance to boost their profile like Wilkinson when 16 international teams race on Flying Phantom catamarans at this season's Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final in Miami, USA on 9-11 November 2018.

And then: It's the all-out action of the Extreme Sailing Series grand finale, as Red Bull Sailing flies in the closing campaign of the season at Los Cabos, Mexico from 29 November through 2 December 2018.

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