Thrilling contest on cards on final day at Lake Garda
A victory to open the day’s proceedings and a victory to close out the day on Saturday would be something that Oman Air will look to repeat on the final day as it chases leader Alinghi in a thrilling battle in the penultimate round of the 2019 GC32 Racing Tour for the GC32 Riva Cup hosted by Riva del Garda’s Fraglia Vela Riva in Italy.
With Swiss team Alinghi and Oman Air also involved in the fight for the overall title, the two teams were once again in the forefront of an intense battle on the penultimate day at Riva del Garda on Saturday where two sessions were held to make up for lack of enough number of races on Friday.
At the end of the day, it was Alinghi (33 points) that held a slight four-point edge over Oman Air (37) but with five races scheduled in mid-afternoon when the southerly Ora winds in full force, a thrilling tussle is on cards on the final day.
Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi started the day four points ahead of Oman Air and after six races on two different courses, during which it lost the lead, it fought back to recover it to end the day ahead of Oman Air.
Saturday was day of two halves, as three early morning races were held with Pelèr northerly. And the second half saw the fleet return for three more races in the southerly Ora.
Oman Air, skippered by Adam Minoprio and his crew of Nasser al Mashari, Peter Greenhalgh, Adam Piggott and Stewart Dodson got off to a perfect start with a bullet in the opening race and overtook Alinghi by two points after the first two races.
However showing its typical relentlessness, Alinghi won the next three races.
Oman Air had a sensational session in morning’s first two races until it was OCS in the third race and could only salvage a sixth. It then struggled in the southerly Ora, a fact mainsail trimmer Greenhalgh admitted.
“We had the best starts and were launched but we chose the right mark and then we didn’t sail in the right mode – we were too high whereas we should have got the bow down and gone super-fast at them [Alinghi] when we probably could have kept them behind us. Instead they [Alinghi] sailed round us,” said Greenhalgh.
However, Oman Air made up with a crucial bullet in the final race, winning the start and leading from there on to clinch the race by a huge margin.
“We are positive about winning tomorrow. We’ll just go hard at Alinghi,” said Greenhalgh.
A close fight will set the teams on course for a battle royale in the final leg of the GC32 Racing Tour, to be staged in Muscat, in November.
Oman Air’s Nasser al Mashari is bullish on the prospects of winning the title at home but said that ‘the team needs to come up with its best to clinch Riva Cup on Sunday’.
“A victory here will give us a big boost ahead of Muscat’s final leg. It will dream come true if we win the overall honours at home in front of my family, friends and fans.”
Oman Air is eight points ahead of third-placed Red Bull Sailing Team.
Standings on penultimate day of Riva Cup: 1 Alinghi (33 points), 2 Oman Air (37), 3 Red Bull Sailing Team (45), 4 Zoulou (47), 5 Argo (61), 6 Black Star Sailing Team (75), 7 Codigo Roja Racing (94).