The Oman Sail organised entry got their season off to a flying start in May with victory at the opening event in Sardinia. However, an untypical final day performance in their GC32 foiling catamaran at the second and most recent venue in Portugal saw them slip down the overall leaderboard. Now at the mid-way point in the season, the Oman Air crew of skipper Adam Minoprio, Nasser al Mashari, Peter Greenhalgh, Stewart Dodson and Adam Piggott aims to get back to winning ways at the Copa Del Rey MAPFRE.
Though a first visit for the Oman-flagged team, Palma is a familiar venue for most of the experienced crew.
“Palma has got the ability to really turn it on and be an absolutely off-the-scale venue with really, really good sailing and racing,” said Greenhalgh, who has raced on the Bay of Palma on numerous occasions.
“It can offer pretty much everything and we’ll just have to wait and see what we get - it’s definitely a popular venue with sailors and I think we will be back there again all being well.” Palma and the Copa del Rey also hold good memories for Kiwi skipper Minoprio. The former Match Racing World Champion stood in for Franck Cammas two years ago and helmed the GC32 NORAUTO team to victory. Team Oman Air - which is also supported by EFG Private Bank Monaco - showed character and determination to recover from their finish at the GC32 event in Lagos, Portugal.
“We were desperately disappointed with the result in Lagos,” admitted Greenhalgh. “Before the last few races we were still second overall but we just made a mess of the last day in a competitive fleet which meant the guys just slipped by.
“But we will be coming back strong. Even the spirit when we were packing up was good, there was a great team atmosphere. We are looking to win the series, so Lagos was not a massive setback. It is only the half-way point of the season, so anything could happen.”
Team Oman Air is now tied on points with INEOS Rebels UK, skippered by four-time Olympic gold medal winner Sir Ben Ainslie, in a joint second place in the overall 2019 season standing. However, the Swiss team aboard Alinghi holds a two point at the top of the table. In Palma another challenge could come from two-time 49er Olympic medallist Iker Martinez, one of Spain’s leading sailors who will skipper the M&G Tressis Silicius entry.
“We know we will face some very good sailors racing in Palma, it is always very competitive in the GC32 fleet,” said Mashari, a long-standing member of the Oman Sail project. “A couple of bad races and you can pay a heavy price, as we found out in Lagos. But the team spirit is strong and we will be doing our very best and working towards a good result.