Leigh gets world title bid off to a flying start

Daily Echo: Leigh McMillan Leigh McMillan

CURRENT world champion Leigh McMillan set his bid for a third Extreme Sailing Series title rolling with a podium finish in the opening event.

Hampshire sailor McMillan’s The Wave, Muscat crew, winners of the global tour in 2012 and 2013, finished second in the first round of racing in Singapore.

The team saw off competition from some of the world's top sailors including Olympic ace Ben Ainslie and French offshore legend Franck Cammas.

Despite winning nine of the 29 races, The Wave, Muscat were pipped to the top spot by Swiss arch rivals Alinghi – but McMillan, from Southampton, said he was thrilled with his team’s performance.

“It’s great to be on the podium this early in the season,” said McMillan.

“Our aim for this event was a top three so we are thrilled to get off to a good start for the series.

“I think it’s great that we are proving the quality of the fleet for the last two years and how competitive it has been.

“But by no means do we think it will remain that way and we are going to have a lot on our hands in the upcoming events.

“We are just delighted to finish in second place and kick off the season with a great result.

“There are going to be some really difficult events and a range of different conditions coming up.

“But right now we are looking forward to a home game in Oman next month at The Wave, Muscat and we will all be putting our heads down to work out what we can do better next time.”

In his first outing on the Extreme Sailing Series as skipper of his own team, four time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie steered his Ben Ainslie Racing team to seventh in the 12-boat fleet.

“It was an interesting challenge this week,” Ainslie said.

“We’ve learnt a lot about sailing the boats and the competition and look forward to building on what we have learnt here and taking that into the next event in Oman.

“We are expecting the conditions to be a little steadier in Act 2, which makes for a whole different type of race.”

Joining Ainslie onboard was fellow Lymington Olympian Pippa Wilson, making her debut on the tour.

She added: “It’s been a great week – quite a baptism of fire really getting to grips with a new boat and the small tight courses but there hasn’t been a dull moment.”

The next event will take place in Muscat, Oman, from March 19 to 22.

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