In just five days 11 teams of elite Extreme 40 sailors will return to the Sultanate of Oman for the second act of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series.
For a fourth consecutive year the fleet return to Oman, racing at a stunning new venue, the Almouj Golf Course at The Wave, Muscat.
From 19 March four days of intense competition will take place under the warmth of the Arabian sun on the home turf of the two Oman Sail entries, Oman Air and The Wave, Muscat.
Historically, the home grown Omani teams have triumphed on their native soil, with The Wave, Muscat taking victory at the Muscat Act in 2013, and Oman Air clinching the win in 2012, then skippered by Morgan Larson.
One man looking to upset this historic trend is Ernesto Bertarelli's Swiss-flagged Alinghi, they will hope to continue their winning streak following their resounding victory at the 2014 in Singapore. Morgan Larson will remain in the driving seat as acting skipper, they will welcome the return of Olympic gold medallist Anna Tunnicliffe as tactician, a two-times ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year.
Tunnicliffe commented, "I'm very excited to be back. The racing I saw in Singapore looked intense. The calibre of sailing talent is some of the best in the world and I look forward to being there."
One new entry for 2014 hoping to topple the old order is Emirates Team New Zealand, who lost out on a podium position in Singapore by the smallest of margins in the final race. The team's Australian mainsail trimmer, Glenn Ashby assessed the team's performance, "As a whole, we felt that we sailed a mostly consistent event in Singapore and were in touch with the top three positions from the start of the regatta. This was nice considering our three-year absence from the Extreme 40 circuit."
Looking ahead to Muscat, Ashby continued, "Consistency will be the key factor in success at Muscat. The sailing last time we were in Muscat in 2011 was fantastic and we are really looking forward to getting back there for some great racing. Our expectations are high for a great result and make the podium."
One man hoping to improve on his team's fifth place in Singapore is Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama sailing team, "We work with our coach Thierry Péponnet who analyses each of the races and this allows us to improve at every level including starts, mark rounding and manoeuvres,"
"We also use the analytics provided by SAP. It is very interesting because this allows us to learn more about our competitors and about ourselves. The level of competition is high but we are in the game too, even though we recognise we need to progress if we want to be in the position to win."
The Act in Singapore was a baptism of fire for the Australian team, and they have acknowledged they have a steep learning curve ahead, "The racing was super tough in Singapore. We struggled with starting and on those short courses starting is critical. Consistency is the key we were probably pushing the boundaries in a lot of areas. I think we could have been a lot more conservative,"
said Steve Jarvin.
SAP Extreme Sailing Team came away from Singapore disappointed after being unable to turn their pre-season training into a result on the water finishing tenth, in what co-skipper Jes Gram-Hansen described as, "One of the most mentally challenging racecourses in the world, we know where we should be ranked and aim to climb back into position in Oman. Now we are back in Europe and preparing for the next event. We are determined to shake off the mental stress of ever changing conditions in Marina Bay, Singapore, and fight back in Muscat and move up the leader board."
Three other teams are hoping to move up the leader board after Singapore are J.P. Morgan BAR, Gazprom Team Russia and Oman Air who finished seventh to ninth respectively.
The fleet will race in stadium mode for four days, and fans around the globe can watch the racing live online on the official event website at the following times: Thursday 20-Saturday 22: 1530-1700 local time / 1130-1300 GMT / 1230-1430 CET