Extreme Sailing Series 2014: Leigh McMillan faces battle in his own head if he is to clinch third straight title while Sir Ben Ainsle enjoys successful Russian experience

McMillan took the series in 2012 and 2013 but Morgan Larson is determined to overhaul the British sailor this time around

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The Independent Online

As the battle on the water was again won by the American Morgan Larson it is the battle in his head that has to be addressed by Britain’s Leigh McMillan ahead of the fifth Extreme Sailing Series regatta in Cardiff in August.

The defending champion may be just three points adrift from Larson, skippering Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi on the tricky waters on St. Petersburg’s River Neva, but the competition becomes harder and harder. The backdrop of the Winter Palace was spectacular but the track underneath the 40-foot catamarans was treacherous and it was not until the final day that there was enough breeze to drive the boats anywhere near their potential. 

McMillan won the series outright in 2012 but it took a tiebreak count-back to take it for a second time in 2013. Larson has made it clear that he wants to topple McMillan this time, and McMillan’s The Wave, Muscat, team had to dig itself out of all sorts of trouble in the last, double points scoring, race to hold off Team New Zealand’s bid for second spot. The tactical call was made by double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton.

Russia proved to be a happier experience for British Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie, whose BAR crew finished fourth overall. He may have struggled at times in this class but a man with so much natural talent is learning quickly and his performance was in stark contrast to another potential America’s Cup skipper, France’s Franck Cammas. What was he doing finishing 11 out of 12? Perhaps being distracted by practicing for the 2016 games in the new, Nacra, 17-foot catamaran.

One place ahead of him was the fourth America’s Cup contender, Team Australia, giving its third skipper of the 2014 season and another Olympic gold medallist, Nathan Wilmot, the chance to put in some noteworthy performances at the helm of GAC Pindar.

But it is Alinghi that will carry valuable momentum to Wales.


1 Alinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey 160 pts.
2 The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari 148.
3 Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Peter Burling, Ray Davies, Blair Tuke, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat 146.
4 J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Phil Sparks, Matt Cornwell 120.
5 Realteam by Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Denis Girardet, Bryan Mettraux, Thierry Wassem 117.
6 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested 113.
7 Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Matt Adams, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov 97.
8 Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Kyle Langford, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi 96.
9 Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Stewart Dodson 95.
10th GAC Pindar (AUS) Nathan Wilmot, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Seve Jarvin, James Wierzbowski 88 points.
11 Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Romain Motteau, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan 88.
12 RussianFirst (RUS) Georgy Shayduko, Sergey Dzhienbaev, Pavel Kalinchev, Leonid Kazinets, Pavel Karachov 40.

2014 overall standings
1 Alinghi (SUI) 38 points.
2 The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 35 points.
3 Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 32 points.
4 Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 28 points.
5 Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 19 points.
6 J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 17 points.
7 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 14 points.
8 Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 13 points.
9 Groupama sailing team (FRA) 13 points.
10 Oman Air (OMA) 11 points