Leigh holds off Ainslie’s challenge

Ben Ainslie’s JP Morgan BAR team

The teams of Ben Ainslie and Leigh McMillan both made it onto the podium

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by

OLYMPIC star Sir Ben Ainslie scored his first podium finish in this year’s Extreme Sailing Series – but it wasn’t enough to catch fellow Hampshire sailor Leigh McMillan.

Sir Ben, from Lymington, led his J.P. Morgan BAR team to third place with a solid performance at the fifth round of high-octane racing in Cardiff Bay.

But all eyes were on Southampton’s Leigh McMillan whose The Wave, Muscat team pulled off a sensational comeback to take their second win in five events.

The victory puts the 2013 champions just two points behind current leaders Alinghi in the 2014 overall standings.

J.P. Morgan BAR, meanwhile, are in fifth place in the overall standings.

“It was a roller coaster ride here in Cardiff – pretty emotional,” a relieved McMillan said after his crew were crowned winners.

“We battled all through the event and we tried to race well as a team and after a couple of bad races at the start, we regrouped and we did it.

“It came down to the wire as always in the last race. We don’t do things the easy way so it was pretty touch and go.

“We’ve been solid all year and are winning events. It will continue to be a big showdown as the year progresses.”

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben said the result was a big step towards success on the tour, which he and his crew are using as training for the next America’s Cup in 2017.

“It has been a big improvement to see us on the podium,” he said.

“It has been great to challenge for the win with the top teams – Alinghi and The Wave, Muscat. It was a big step forward and hopefully we can continue this for the rest of the series.”

The sixth of eight stages will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, later this month.

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