Phil Robertson replaces Morgan Larson as Oman Air skipper for 2017 Extreme Sailing Series
Oman Air's bid to claim the Extreme Sailing Series crown will be led by World Match Racing Champion Phil Robertson, who has been appointed skipper for the 2017 campaign, which starts in Muscat, Oman, on 8 March.
In the 2016 season, having sat at the top of the leaderboard since the first Act, the Omani team's shot at the title was scuppered in the final Act by its main adversary, Alinghi. This season the team will look to retain that top spot to the very end, with Robertson at the helm.
"I am very excited about the new role ahead," said Robertson, who is no stranger to the Extreme Sailing Series circuit, having skippered Gazprom Team Russia in 2014 and 2015 and as a wildcard in 2016.
"I know these guys are extremely competitive so we will be pushing for podiums and if we can put ourselves in a position to have a shot at the title, then we'll be working around the clock to make it happen," he added.
Robertson admits his appointment to the role of skipper of Oman Air, one of the most experienced teams in the Extreme Sailing Series, will require a lot of hard work and commitment.
"Oman Air is a very experienced and talented team with a successful history, so to be able to lead such a great crew is an amazing opportunity. The team finished second last year so the fire in their belly is burning," he said.
"The expectations have to be realistic. Firstly, I have to push really hard to catch up to the rest of the team. They are brilliant and successful sailors and it will be an honour to lead them and learn from their experience and knowledge."
Asked what he will bring to the Oman Air crew he joked: "The first thing I'll bring is a lower average age with some spark and enthusiasm."
Robertson will be teaming up once again with James Wierzbowski, who was a member of his $1Million World Match Racing Tour winning crew last year.
The Aussie bowman returns to Oman Air for 2017 along with core crew members Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari and Ed Smyth.
With the eleventh edition of the Extreme Sailing Series kicking off in Muscat, Oman, Robertson will start on the front foot, given that Omani-flagged teams have a track record of success on their home territory, backed by huge local support.
"We are so happy to have Phil on board for 2017 and look forward to working hard and hopefully winning the title," said Omani sailor Al Mashari, who will be starting his ninth season in the Extreme Sailing Series.
"He is one of the most experienced match racing helmsmen in the world so we will learn a lot from him," Al Mashari added.