Oman Sail In Muscat (Photo by Lloyd Images/Oman Sail)

Oman Sail In Muscat (Photo by Lloyd Images/Oman Sail)

In just ten days time the final of the Extreme Sailing Series Asia will kick off at The Wave, Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, with six international teams competing for the inaugural title. The Series will end on a high with the Extreme Beach Party, a two day grand finale for the public over the Omani weekend.

Khamis Al Anbouri, bowman on Oman Sail Masirah, currently topping the leaderboard, is looking forward to returning to his home port. “We are pumped up and ready to take on the World!” he laughed. “It’s great to be coming back to Muscat and for the home crowd to see first hand the five other top teams competing on the circuit. They are promised an awesome spectacle.”

Six teams, racing radical 40-foot catamarans, started their battle for the inaugural title in Hong Kong at the end of November, before heading to Singapore mid-December… And now they arrive in the Sultanate of Oman for the grand final that takes place from the 1st-5th February. Global brands such as Red Bull and BT back two of the racing teams, and China has also entered a team for the first time.

Going into the deciding round, Pete Cumming (GBR) and his crew onboard Oman Sail’s Masirah have a 5-point lead over Nick Moloney’s (AUS) BT, tied with new team China Team, skippered by Thierry Barot (FRA). Just one point behind them, also tied, is The Wave, Muscat, helmed by Paul Campbell-James (GBR) with Omani powerhouse Nasser Salim Al Mashari (OMA) as his bowman and newcomer to the Extreme 40 circuit, Red Bull Extreme Sailing, skippered by double Olympic Gold medallist Roman Hagara (AUT) with his Olympic crew Hans-Peter Steinacher (AUT) as tactician. In sixth place is another double Olympic Gold Medallist, Shirley Robertson (GBR) skipper of Rumbo Almería joined by double Olympic Silver Medallist Ian Walker (GBR).


Nick Moloney on BT In London (Photo by Th Martinez/OC Events)

The Extreme 40 multihulls are ‘speed machines’ that race close to shore on tight courses, unlike most sailing events – and in this final event they will be competing in short, exciting, 15-minute races starting each day at The Wave, Muscat from 2pm. Race Director, Gilles Chiorri (FRA) will be throwing everything at the teams including possible speed trials, slalom courses and even some match racing – an interesting prelude to the much-anticipated mammoth multihull battle between America’s Cup antagonists Alinghi and BMW ORACLE Racing. (Note: traditionally match racing is only competed in monohull boats).

His Excellency Eng. Sultan Hamdoon Al Harthi, Head of Muscat Municipality said “The Extreme Sailing Series Asia is the first of a number of high profile sporting events that will be taking place in Oman this year and we are looking forward to watching some of the world’s best sailors compete right on our shoreline. Oman has a rich maritime heritage and this event is a perfect tool to help showcase the potential of the Sultanate as a key sailing location internationally.”

The first three days of racing will be dedicated to hosting VIPs, national and international media, while the 4th and 5th February will see Al-Hail beach, to the West of the capital Muscat, transformed into the ‘Extreme Beach Party’. Each morning from 10am there will be a five-a-side football tournament featuring members of the Omani national football team, winners of the 2009 Gulf Cup of Nations, volleyball matches, the Red Bull Street Style team for the Muscat leg of the international leg of the freestyle football competition, ‘try-sailing’ sessions, as well as family activities, food stands and entertainment.
Roman Hagara, skipper of Red Bull Extreme Sailing, has edged up the leaderboard, finishing second overall in Singapore after a disappointing sixth at the first event in Hong Kong where they struggled to overcome gear failure problems. “We are ready to race and proud to be invited to this beautiful country. It is not our first visit and we look forward to meet a lot of friends. I am sure that we will enjoy it. We expect a competitive but fair race.”

The Asian circuit follows hot on the heels of the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series Europe that, in just three years, has become a top five fixture in the international sailing calendar. The fleet which will race in Muscat includes three double Olympic gold medallists, a double Olympic Silver Medallist, 29 World Championship titles, 9 round the world navigations, 23 Olympic games attended and 10 America’s Cup sailors.
OC Events, organisers of the series, has brought the circuit to the Middle East and Asia for the first time to demonstrate the potential of a full-scale series in 2010/2011. Mark Turner, CEO of OC Group, explained, “Developing a series here in the Middle East is the next step in the evolution of this ground-breaking circuit. Never before has there been top-level racing, right in the heart of cities, within metres of the shore, designed to entertain the public, media and VIP’s – not just other sailors. It’s unique for the cities and it is unique for our sport.

“The GCC region is ideal for high-integrity sailing events and we are bringing the circuit here to demonstrate to key stakeholders and the media what a full scale circuit with top level on-water action coupled with high-end VIP corporate hospitality and an all-inclusive shore side entertainment package can deliver. The Muscat event promises to be a spectacular conclusion to this inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Asia.”

The Extreme Sailing Series Asia: Muscat is supported by the Muscat Municipality and Oman Sail, the Ministry of Tourism backed initiative to reignite the Sultanate’s maritime heritage and inspire young Omanis to achieve their potential through sailing.

Current standings after two events:

1 – Oman Sail Masirah: Pete Cumming (GBR)
2 – BT: Nick Moloney (AUS)
3 – China Team: Thierry Barot (FRA)
4 – The Wave, Muscat: Paul Campbell-James (GBR)
5 – Red Bull Extreme Sailing Team: Roman Hagara (AUT)
6 – Rumbo Almería: Shirley Robertson (GBR)

Extreme Sailing Series Asia Fleet (Photo by Guy Nowell/OC Events)

Extreme Sailing Series Asia Fleet (Photo by Guy Nowell/OC Events)