Going into Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Muscat, Oman, each crew member in the SAP Extreme Sailing Team wanted to put in a good performance to eradicate the disappointment of Singapore.
We all knew we could do better and it was a matter of finding our form with the new crew line up, getting into a rhythm and executing our winning strategy. It all starts with solid preparations. We looked closely into the video debriefs and SAP Sailing Analytics to make sure our priorities were correct in the expected weather conditions: trim settings of the boat, tactical decisions, positioning and boat handling.
We clearly go these right as when the gun fired on the first day of racing we were leading the fleet around the course, which was set amongst the stunning backdrop of the Almouj Golf course. The crew was smiling again and we enjoyed strong sailing days with great breeze, sun and blue sky. Returning to the harbour, we found out we had posted the best day ever for our team on the Extreme Sailing Series. We were back in the game.
The following days involved hard fought battles with Alinghi, The Wave and Emirates Team New Zealand to hold our position at the front of the fleet. The reaching starts of the Stadium Race format gave us some challenges, but we kept fighting our way back through the fleet. To pass other boats on a very short and compact course is difficult but from the post-race analytics we could see that out of all the teams we gained the most positions throughout the races.
We had good boat speed and stayed out of the traffic of the other boats, which can slow you down and limit opportunities if you don’t get positioning right. Eventually, it all came down to the last and 29th race to decide the top 4 positions. The Wave were in the lead by 2 points followed by our team who were one point ahead of Alinghi, which were one point ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand.
The race was a close battle and had several position changes but ultimately we had to settle for fourth, narrowly missing out on the podium. We were satisfied with challenging the best teams all the way to the end and hope to keep the momentum and get an opportunity to fight for the podium in Act 3 in Qingdao.
In a few weeks the team will arrive in Qingdao, where the race course is right next to the Olympic Rings at the harbour front, an unambiguous reminder for everyone of the sailing pedigree of the city. It’s also known for the most spectacular capsize action in the Extreme Sailing Series history and nail-biting racing action.
We look forward to racing in China again and seeing all the enthusiastic supporters that shared our podium finish last year. Lets see if history repeats itself!