The championship marks the second event of the GC32 Racing Tour, with the Oman Air crew having emerged as worthy winners at the GC32 Villasimius Cup in Sardinia last month a clear nine points ahead of the chasing pack. Now the crew of the high-speed foiling catamaran will carry that momentum with them as they prepare for four days of competitive racing in Lagos, Portugal.
“It’s looking good for Lagos,” said Team Oman Air project manager and mainsail trimmer Pete Greenhalgh. “The team are up for it and we have all the bits and pieces to do the job – taking momentum into next event does no harm, that’s for sure.”
For 2019 long-standing Oman Sail team members Greenhalgh and Nasser Al Mashari have been re-joined by Stewart Dodson with the highly-rated New Zealand helmsman and skipper Adam Minoprio and experienced British sailor Adam Piggott adding further strength to the crew. The team is no stranger to Portuguese waters, having competed in Madeira, Lisbon and Cascais in previous years with the Extreme Sailing Series.
“There are just a couple of areas we need to work on, and get way better,” said Greenhalgh. “With the new team combination it is exciting to have some pretty obvious things to work on and we are confident we can turn things around pretty quickly.”
Having the event as a World Championship will give added impetus to the Oman Air crew as the team took a hard-fought third place podium finish on Lake Garda in the first ever GC32 worlds, having won the ‘unofficial’ World Championships the year before.
“It adds a bit of spice because it is a World Championship event,” said Greenhalgh. “Some of the teams won’t be doing a full season so they will ramp it up for this event, no question.”
The Sardinia event was marked by unseasonably cool weather and almost wintery conditions, so the whole fleet will be hoping for warmer conditions – so long as there is wind to race in.
“As long as there is wind we won’t be complaining, we can handle a bit of rain,” said Al Mashari. “We will be training hard before the start of racing to turn the one or two weak areas we have into strengths – it is good to have some areas to focus on and improve.”
The Oman Air team know they will face a stern test from Ernesto Bertarelli’s Swiss team on Alinghi, runners-up in Sardinia, and Olympic gold medal winner Ben Ainslie’s crew on INEOS Rebels UK, who took the final podium place. Reigning GC32 champion Franck Cammas and his NORAUTO crew will also be out to improve on their fourth place at the first event.
Team Oman Air will race in Lagos from 27 to 30 June, following a day of practice.