Extreme Sailing Series - Above and Beyond Award winner announced

Land Rover Global Brand Ambassador, Hannah White, with the recipients of the first Above and Beyond Award, Oman Air Shore Team from left to right, Suleiman Al Manji, Jo Lees and Hilal Al Zadjali
© Lloyd Images
The first Above and Beyond Award was presented by Land Rover today to three of the ‘Unsung Heroes’ of the Extreme Sailing Series™. The Award winners were unanimously voted for by a Committee made up of Land Rover Global Brand Ambassador, Hannah White, former winner of the Extreme Sailing Series and America’s Cup sailor Dave Carr, Event Director Andy Tourell and Race Director, Phil Lawrence.

The criteria of the Above and Beyond Award is to recognise the finest example of skill, sportsmanship and strength of mind from an individual, team or group at each of the Extreme Sailing Series™ Acts, in the true spirit of Land Rover’s Above and Beyond ethos. In recognition of the sometimes exhausting work undertaken by the shore crews in the Extreme Sailing Series ™ the first ‘Above and Beyond’ Award has been presented to the Shore Crew of Oman Sail for their dedication and expertise in boat-building and boat-preparation following a major crash in the first race of the first day.

The Shore Crew of a professional racing team undertakes a similar role to a motor racing Pit Crew - the unsung heroes, experts in their field of preparation and performance tuning, who often work through the night preparing their team’s boat for racing. In the Qingdao Act of the Extreme Sailing Series, the Shore Crew of Oman Air has been particularly busy, turning around a major repair to get them back on the water.

In the first race on the first day, and in the first 30 seconds, Oman Air was hit by GAC Pindar, just metres across the start line. The resulting damage was a hole 40cm high and 15cm across in the port hull when the Australian team of GAC Pindar simply ran out of room on the racecourse hitting Oman Air with an impact that could be heard by the crowds lining the stadium racecourse.

The Oman Air Extreme 40 immediately returned to the dock, to be craned out and the work began for the three-man Shore Crew of Jo Lees, Hilal Al Zadjali and Suleiman Al Manji. It was an 18-hour job repairing the man-sized hole, cutting away the damaged laminate and repairing the internal structures of the hull before rebuilding each layer of the carbon-fibre and honeycomb sandwich, one at a time, which forms the hull’s surface. The final job was to make fair, paint and polish the hull to a smooth finish and apply the team’s branding, and Oman Air was back on the water ready to go racing for 2pm the following day.

Former winner of the Extreme Sailing Series, and one of the four members of the ‘Above and Beyond’ Committee, David Carr said, 'The Shore Crews are the unsung heroes of professional sailing. These guys often have to work around the clock repairing damage, or fine-tuning the set-up of the Extreme 40s through the night and ensuring that top performance is delivered by the equipment.

'Sailors have to have a huge amount of trust in their shore crews and the teams here are supported by world-class composite technicians and boat-builders who ensure that the Extreme 40s are racing at their peak performance each day. They are a integral part of the team and it’s often a thankless, dirty and exhausting task so to award the Oman Air Shore Crew with the first Above and Beyond Award is fantastic.'

Jo Lees from the Oman Air Shore Crew commented, 'It means the world to be recognised and for the boys’ efforts to be rewarded. They are always smiling, always keen to learn and always working hard. To be recognised today in the biggest way with the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award is a real honour.'

Land Rover Global Brand Ambassador, Hannah White, presented the first Above and Beyond Award to the Oman Air team on the final day of Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao, China. There will be a presentation at each Act of the Series and the Committee will announce an overall winner at the final Act of the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series in Sydney, Australia on 14 December 2014 when the overall winning team will be presented with the keys to a Land Rover for their use in 2015.

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