Team New Zealand close in on leader in Oman

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 11:59 22/03/2014

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Team New Zealand continued to close in on the leaders on the third day of the Extreme Sailing Series event in Oman today.

Dean Barker's crew finished in the top thee of five of the eight races sailed in tricky conditions.

That saw them maintain third place, but they have closed the gap to five points behind leaders Alinghi and just a point behind second-placed DSAP from Denmark.

After finishing the opening event of the series in Singapore last month in fourth, Team New Zealand have targeted a podium finish in Muscat but they will need nerves of steel to achieve that in the light, patchy conditions with just 14 points separating the top five boats.

Barker felt they should have done better today, but conceded it could also have been a lot, lot worse.

"It was a very trying, light-air day," Barker said.

"The sea breeze came up earlier in the day but had fallen away by the time racing started. We never had much more than four knots all day.

"We had to battle for every point in every race. There were a lot of mixed results, not just for us, for everyone. That's a fair indication of how tough it was racing here today.

"It felt like a very average day but we managed to come ashore in third place, only five points off the lead. It certainly didn't feel like that on board.

"The day could have gone a lot better, and tomorrow is going to be a very busy day. Whoever sails reasonably smartly tomorrow will have a good chance of being successful."

Sir Ben Ainslie's British entry was the big mover amongst the 11-boat fleet, winning three race s to jump to fourth place.

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- Fairfax Media

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