BEN Ainslie was buoyed after steering his team to their best result yet at the halfway stage of the Extreme Sailing Series.

Olympic ace Ainslie notched up a fourth place finish with his Ben Ainslie Racing team on the waters of St Petersburg, the first time the eight stage tour had visited Russia.

Previously the team had not finished above sixth overall in the eight-date tour.

Praising his team for the result, Lymington sailor Ainslie said: “It’s a better result for us than any of our previous events, and we’re improving, which is great.

“With all of these events there have been pretty challenging conditions, so for all of the teams it’s about dealing with that and I think we’re slowly starting to understand a bit more about this type of racing, the demands and how to be successful.”

Meanwhile Southampton's Leigh McMillan had to settle for second place behind arch rivals Alinghi from Switzerland. McMillan's team The Wave Muscat, hotly tipped to win the series, were just pipped to the top spot in a thrilling double-points finale.

McMillan said: “Getting a second here in St Petersburg is a good result and as the year goes on, the venues will swing in our favour.

“Staying in touch with Alinghi, who are very strong in these conditions, means we are staying in touch overall which is good.

“Looking ahead to Cardiff, it will be another tricky one but we know how the place works because we won there last year so we will be going all out to defend our title.”

J.P. Morgan Ben Ainslie Racing go into the fifth round in Cardiff in sixth overall. The Wave Muscat are in second, three points behind Alinghi.