A Win and a Thanks

Despite falling off the cat during light-air racing, Max Bulger recovers, and the Oman Air team brings a strong record at the first Act of the Extreme Sailing Series in Muscat, Oman.

Thank you.

After such a great event, and overall experience, those two words are at the top of the pile. A victory here in Muscat leaves me indebted to talented and fun teammates, unbelievable shore support crew, phenomenal competitors, the great folks at Oman Sail, and, of course, the legs that run all my adventures: amazing family and friends back home in Boston, at Tufts, and around the world. Cheers.

Oman Air celebrates the win. Photo by Lloyd Images.


I was (clearly) incapable of writing updates during the event. Narrative recaps require a level of emotional maturity and experience I haven’t quite achieved with my racing. I’m continually impressed by the ability of the Volvo guys to reflect and report about their racing while it’s in progress. Maybe next time. Sitting on top of the workbench in the back of our half-packed packed container, I’ve written a multi-part recap that will take you behind the scenes a bit with our team as the event progressed. A different installment will come out every day this week.


Day One of the event was what the race management deemed “open water” racing. That title was appropriate only compared to the rest of the week–instead of racing in the few hundred square meters between the beach and breakwater, we sailed 20-minute races just outside the rock jetty on The Wave’s shoreline. The breeze was light—-really light.


In “drifter” conditions, getting weight forward is paramount in the X40s. What this means for me and Nasser is riding stomach-down, almost as if stretched out on a sprinting horse, while straddling the front of the hulls. (Ed. note: Max shows the move above left, photo by Lloyd Images.) To avoid moving back to the trampoline during jibes, I cross from one bow to the other by walking across an 8-millimeter spectra bridle, with a wire of similar thickness at shoulder height to help keep balance.

On one crossing, I tried to change direction halfway across the bridle, and, to put it simply, missed. After 10 days of heavy air training, I felt like we were going slowly in the moderate breeze. Within an instant of hitting the water, I was quickly reminded just how damn fast these cats are. Considering this happened while we were winning our first race of the event, I realized pretty quickly I had two options:

1. Find a way to grab the boat before it totally passed over my head, and avoid forcing my team to sail back and pick me up.
2. Start swimming back home to Boston.


As the boat Pac-Man‘d** my body, I reached up once for the underside of the trampoline. It grazed my fingertips, but no luck. I managed to fling myself underwater a few feet to the side, just catching the rudder with one arm and the side of my ribcage. Effectively having knocked the wind out of myself, I just hung on until Will came over and yanked me out of the water. (Will, you left me waiting there for a full half-second… c’mon, mate!)

Times we had to turn around and sacrifice our lead: 0. Bullets we got that day: 1. Number of times a crewmember fell overboard during the event: 1. Embarrassment aside, we surprised a lot of people by posting the strongest day on record for a new skipper-led team in the Extreme Sailing Series.

****Pac-man** – verb – To sail-over an object in a catamarn while flying one hull so that the object passes safely between your two hulls, underneath the trampoline and out the transom.
As in what Loick does on his giant multihulls for fun during training, “Let’s Pac-Man another channel marker!
As in what Morgan says when I fall overboard while his winning the first X40 race of his life, “Holy-sh*t we just Pac-Man’d Max.”