The second act of the Extreme Sailing Series ended in Oman last weekend. Eleven catamarans fought for the title of Extreme Sailing Series. The racing conditions were quite comfortable all days and there were no incidents. Anyone watching the world's sailing events will probably be aware of the collision between the catamarans of Groupama and Team Aberdeen in Singapore, which almost cost the life of one of the yachtsmen.
In Oman, one could only die from the heat. The summer season had not yet begun, and the sun was baking. In addition, you don't run much in shorts here. Bearded men in white dish dashhdasha will look shamelessly, and women in black abai will give a judgmental look.
But the harsh local morals still did not prevent the girls to race as part of some teams. (In the new class rules, you can take on board either women or teenagers.) Almost all teams were joined by female crew members. They chase on equal terms! I was lucky to see for myself how well mixed crews work together.
I passively participated in several races on Groupama and The Wave catamarans. Unfortunately both teams were not very good during the day and the yachtsmen were gloomy and focused. But the GAC Pindar are never discouraged, despite the fact that they are always at the tail end of the fleet. Before the start of the race day the crew got acquainted with the local water area and allowed to join them.
I was handed a tiller, and under the sensitive guidance of a skipper, I ran the Extreme 40. It's unforgettable, I'll tell you! Lying with a camera on a ski jump is a different story.
Anyway, if you have to choose which boat to go on and the seat on Team New Zealand is already taken, go to the GAC Pindar.
In the 2014 season it became even more interesting to follow the battle of catamarans. The fleet was replenished with new teams, and new countries appeared on the map. About everything in order.
The arrival of the Groupama team is significant because it is being chased by the winner of the Volvo Ocean Race, Frank Kammas, who preferred Extreme 40 for the next 2 years. At the end of two stages, the team is kept in the middle of the fleet - in fifth place.
Adding to the racing status of the four-time Olympic medalist, winner of the «America»'s Cup, yachtsman of the year by recognition of ISAF and, to be shy, an English knight, Sir Ben Ainsley. He's the leader of Team J. P. Morgan and so far he has only bypassed the GAC Pindar and Oman Air's last place residents, with two novice Ottoman athletes on board. But I'm sure the team's success isn't far off.
The performance of Gazprom Team Russia can be called a success.
Russian athletes in catamarans are inexperienced and it won't be possible to assemble the entire national team for another couple of years.
Currently there are two Russian athletes aboard: Igor Lisovenko and Alexey Kulakov. The result for the first steps in the class is very praiseworthy. In the overall standings the guys are on the 5th place and have already headed the fleet twice before my eyes in races in Singapore and Oman. Will the «gas-producers» keep at this pace at least to the stage in their native waters? There will be the 3rd stage in China (Qingdao from May 1 to 4) and then, for the first time in history, the fleet will go to Russia, namely to the Yacht Club of St. Petersburg. It is a great honor and responsibility to accept an event of this level. Unfortunately, the stage of Extreme Sailing Series coincides with another significant event in sailing, RC44 Sotogrande CUP, in which five Russian teams take part. Both athletes, organizers and journalists will have to break up.
Returning to the events in Oman, the races were less massive and spectacular than in Singapore, where they were held in the city center. In Oman, it was a bit empty. The racing village was located on the Muscat Golf Course and was not crowded with spectators. Either the guests were far away or sailing was not a sport for everyone. The technical area was organized in the port of The Wave, where the teams settled down after the races. The yachtsmen were not spoilt by their presence in the guest tent, which also affected the interest of the visitors. But no one interfered with the races. This could be done directly from the shore or in real time on monitors.
In total, 29 races were held in Oman during the competition. The winner of the stage was The Wave team. It outperformed Alinghi and is leading in the overall standings of the two stages. The second place is occupied by Emirates Team New Zealand, the third position is held by Alinghi.
It's as if the fight is going on between these three teams. But everything can change more than once, because there are still 6 acts ahead.
See you in China!
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