SAP EXTREME SAILING TEAM won the opening Act of this year’s Extreme Sailing Series after a wet and wild finale in Oman in March.
Clear blue skies, a blustery north-easterly breeze gusting 25 knots and uncharacteristically choppy waters awaited the nine-strong fleet of foiling GC32 catamarans, which flew round Muscat’s stadium racecourse off Almouj Golf.
With boat speeds hitting upwards of 31 knots, crews fought to tame their bucking GC32s over six races. After 26 races over four days, three teams – SAP, Oman Air and Alinghi – went into the final race, worth double points, capable of taking the overall win.
After a fast and furious race, SAP, helmed by Kiwi Adam Minoprio, clinched Act 1 with a second-place finish, crossing the line behind Team Tilt. It was the first Act win for SAP since May 2015 when they took the top spot in Qingdao, China.
SAP co-skipper Rasmus Køstner said: “It was a great day and a fantastic achievement for the team. We knew we were in the lead going into the last race and we really wanted to win the Act. It was full-on racing and we had to fight until the last race, but it was fantastic to cross the finish line winning the regatta. It has been a little while since we’ve won, but it’s nice to be back on the top of the leaderboard.”
The final race also saw 2016 champions Alinghi snatch second place overall from Oman Air right on the finish line. Alinghi needed to beat Oman Air with a team in between them to leapfrog them on the scoreboard and they did just that when Tawera Racing overtook the home team late on.
Alinghi helmsman Arnaud Psarofaghis said: “This is a really good start to the season for us. I’m a little disappointed about how I sailed this week, it wasn’t at the best level, but every day we caught up a little bit and we ended up with second which is good. The crew did a fantastic job and I just need to be a little bit better next time.”
Austrian crew Red Bull Sailing Team were fourth ahead of Team Tilt and Team ENGIE in fifth and sixth respectively. Chris Steele’s Tawera Racing, new to the Extreme Sailing Series, finished seventh, with Land Rover BAR Academy in eighth and NZL Sailing Team in ninth.
The 11th year of the Extreme Sailing Series features eight Acts in three continents, culminating in a season finale in Los Cabos, Mexico, in December. Act 2 was held in Qingdao, China, from April 28-May 1.