The fleet of 11 elite level Extreme 40 catamarans headed onto the Muscat racecourse for the opening day of Act 2 of the global Extreme Sailing Series present by Land Rover.
The fleet raced in open water, in a light breeze between 5-7 knots that played across the course, with each windward-leeward two-lap race lasting just over 15 minutes.
With five different winners over seven races it's shaping up to be an unpredictable and close fought event. SAP Extreme Sailing Team, Emirates Team New Zealand and The Wave, Muscat all came away with a win each, with Alinghi and Groupama sailing team taking two wins.
Only 16 points currently separate the top eight with the Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team on top after a consistent day on the water. Jes Gram Hanses, the co-skipper commented, "It's going to be a long regatta and it's only day one but we're happy with our performance today and hopefully it can continue.
"When you get ahead of the fleet it becomes easier, you have clean breeze and you're actually just gaining and gaining. Tomorrow we just need to stay focused
On the water, it was a frustrating end to the day for the Austrian boat, who were tied on points at the top of the leaderboard going into the final race. A tenth place in that race proved costly, and the team finish the day in sixth, showing just how quickly things can change on the racecourse. Skipper Hagara commented: "The teams will need to be more consistent tomorrow. You really need a good start out there, as it's so difficult to get back in it when you start from the back. All the teams are very strong and that's why we are very tight on points. No mistakes will be the plan for all teams."
After a somewhat conservative start to the event for both four-times Olympic champion Ben Ainslie's British team J.P. Morgan BAR, and Gazprom Team Russia, helmed by two-times Series winner Paul Campbell-James, the British helms began to master the racecourse, both securing finishes in the top three. Campbell-James summed up the day, "We had some good races and some bad races, unfortunately more bad races than good ones so it was a little frustrating. There's a lot of positives we can take from today - our downwind speed was a lot better, our upwind speed felt pretty good and our crew work is improving every day."
Campbell-James continued, "The most important thing tomorrow is that we will be back to reaching starts, which may provide a bit of variety as to who gets to the line first. We're close to the shore with a good Omani crowd as enthusiastic as ever, so we're looking forward to it."
It was a testing day for Realteam, who were unable to continue their success following their third place in Singapore just three weeks ago, and also for GAC Pindar, with the teams finishing tenth and eleventh respectively.
With three days of Stadium Racing still to come, it is anyone's guess who will be crowned champions in Muscat.
Extreme Sailing Series™ 2014 Act 2, Muscat standings after Day 1, 7 races (19.03.14)
Position / Team / Points
1st SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, 48 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, 45 points.
3rd Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, 45 points.
4th The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, 44 points.
5th Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, 43 points.
6th Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, 41 points.
7th Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, 33 points.
8th J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, 32 points.
9th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James 25 points.
10th Realteam (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, 22 points.
11th GAC Pindar (AUS) Seve Jarvin, 16 points.
Event website here.