Team Oman Air promise to bounce back after frustrating opener to Extreme Sailing Series round two

Act 2, Qingdao Ð Day 1 – Oman Air Sailing Team races
during day one of Act 2 – Qingdao at the Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao, China. Photo by Xaume Olleros / OC Sport

Typically challenging weather conditions in China’s Olympic Sailing City of Qingdao left Team Oman Air frustrated but defiant after a mixed bag of results in the Extreme Sailing Series round two curtain raiser.

Qingdao is notorious for delivering tricky sailing conditions that can change in an instant – and that’s just what happened today as the Extreme Sailing Series and its rivalries resumed on Qingdao’s waters.

After almost two hours of bobbing around waiting for enough wind to allow action to commence, a solid 15-knot breeze swept over the seven-strong fleet allowing three races to be held.

Oman Air started with trademark strength, opening their scorecard with a podium finish in race one behind rivals Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team.

But with the wind blowing through Qingdao’s skyline of high-rise buildings the race course was anything but straightforward – and Oman Air had to settle for last place in race two after getting caught in a wind hole.

A fifth-place finish in the final race of the day sees Phil Robertson’s men go into day two in an uncharacteristic fifth overall.

Despite being disappointed with their start to Act 2, skipper Robertson said his team of mainsail trimmer and tactician Pete Greenhalgh, headsail trimmer Ed Smyth and bowmen Nasser Al Mashari and James Wierzbowski would regroup and come back stronger when racing resumes tomorrow.

“We had a real stinker today,” Robertson admitted. “The conditions were extremely difficult – very gusty, very shifty. It’s really frustrating when it’s like that because you can go from first to last really quickly. Every team had a bit of it but some were better than others.”

In contrast to the opening day’s racing held in open water outside of Qingdao’s Fushan Bay, the following three days of action will take place inside the harbour.

With limited room to manoeuvre and even greater disruptions to the wind, the new race course will bring a host of new challenges.

Reigning match racing world champion Robertson, who joins Oman Air as skipper for the 2017 season, said the team would look to find their form and claw back vital points on their rivals.

Nasser Al Mashari, Oman Air’s long-serving bowman, maintained his positive outlook: “Tomorrow’s a new day. Stadium racing in the bay brings its own challenges with new and very tricky conditions, but we have three days ahead of us to make a difference in the standings. Every day we improve and we will be looking to do that tomorrow. Tonight we will debrief with our coach, Marcus, and talk things through, each day is a fresh start and tomorrow we’ll just come out and go for it.”

Racing resumes at 1400 local time (GMT+8) and can be followed on the Extreme Sailing Series social media channels and live blog. The action will be streamed live on Sunday April 30 and Monday May 1 from 1400 to 1700 on the Extreme Sailing Series Facebook and Youtube channels.