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Team Oman Air all set for a new challenge on the GC32 Racing Tour

by Oman Sail 21 May 14:22 BST 22-26 May 2019
2018 Extreme Sailing Series Act 3 Barcelona © Lloyd Images

Team Oman Air is all set to go into high-speed action this week with the opening event of the international 2019 GC32 Racing Tour.

In what promises to be an exciting and challenging season the crew of the high-tech foiling catamaran – capable of reaching 40 knots – will start their Tour campaign at the GC32 Villasimius Cup on Wednesday 22 May in southern Sardinia.

The team will face both old adversaries and new rivals in the enlarged 10-strong GC32 Racing Tour fleet across five events between now and November.

Familiar competition will come from the Swiss team on Alinghi, Austria's Red Bull Racing and INEOS Rebels UK helmed by British sailing legend Sir Ben Ainslie, all transferees from what was the Extreme Sailing Series.

Meanwhile new challenges will come from Racing Tour regulars including the US Argo team, the Franck Cammas skippered Norauto entry, and the Chinese flagged CHINAone NINGBO crew led by former Oman Air skipper Phil Robertson.

It's a prospect welcomed by Oman Air's project manager, mainsail trimmer and tactician Pete Greenhalgh, who will be reunited with Oman Sail stalwart Nasser Al Mashari and Kiwi racer Stewart Dodson. The team will be further strengthened by the experienced British sailor Adam Piggott and renowned New Zealand helmsman Adam Minoprio, the youngest ever Match Racing World Champion.

"Joining the GC32 Racing Tour is a change, and it's a different style of racing with a few more boats on the start line – which is great for the event and great for the racing," said Greenhalgh.

"It's sure to be really competitive with a lot more depth to the field, with Alinghi, INEOS and Norauto sure to be up there, and it is going to be interesting to be racing against Phil Robertson this season," he added with a laugh.

"With the two Adams joining us our performance will be just fine, so we will be getting out there and aiming to continue to improve on our speed and our teamwork – and if we can do that through the season we can hopefully get the result we are looking for, a win."

The switch to the GC32 Racing Tour for 2019 has seen the Oman Sail team benefit from the continued support of Oman Air following several successful seasons with the Extreme Sailing Series.

"We have a great team once again and we can be confident going into the Racing Tour though it has new teams and new venues," said Al Mashari. "It is also great to again have the support of Oman's national airline through what is sure to be an exciting and, hopefully, successful season."

Team Oman Air – also supported by EFG Private Bank Monaco – will begin its bid for the 2019 GC32 Racing Tour title in Villasimius with a day of practice racing followed by four race days from May 22 to 26.

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