Oman Sail skipper Leigh McMillan is bracing himself for an emotional farewell when he attempts to seal a record breaking fifth consecutive Extreme Sailing Series win and his third series title in Sydney this weekend.
After five years at the helm of the Omani Extreme 40 The Wave, Muscat, McMillan is taking a breather from the circuit having twice claimed the championship in both 2012 and 2013 to campaign for the America’s Cup with Britain’s challenger Landrover BAR. As with the rest of the Extreme Sailing Series community, he is also saying his last goodbyes to the Extreme 40 which is being replaced by foiling GC32s for 2016.
The Extreme 40 has played a massive part in raising the profile of the sport, McMillan said, and has given a large number of sailors an opportunity to take their careers to the next level.
“It is the end of an era,” said McMillan who will join Sir Ben Ainslie’s squad at Landrover BAR in the new year.
“These boats have been incredible – OC Sport has done an amazing job in promoting the sport and creating a circuit which has become the longest standing professional racing circuit that has ever existed so we are expecting the finale in Sydney to be emotional.
“We are really looking forward to this last Act and I am focused on getting a fifth event win in a row and a third series win – we will be the first to do it and that will make me extremely proud. I’m really excited about what we have achieved and with this being the last ever event in the Extreme 40 and my last event with the The Wave, Muscat and Oman Sail team for now, it is hugely important that we go out in style.
Since the win in Istanbul, crew member and double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton has been named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year for 2015, for her work as tactician on The Wave, Muscat.
“It was a lovely cherry on the cake for her and all of us and everyone at Oman Sail is thrilled,” McMillan said.
“It was a long time coming because she is an incredibly talented sailor and fully deserves to be recognized for her skills. People who have watched her at work on The Wave, Muscat are fully aware of just how good she is!”
The Wave, Muscat has an 11-point lead at the top of the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard going into Act 8. Their stable mates and rivals Oman Air are determined to take up where they left off in Istanbul and earn a place on the podium.
“We had our best result of the year in Istanbul when we came second so we really want to win this one in Sydney and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility,” said skipper Stevie Morrison who despite his years representing Britain in the 49er Olympic class, has never raced on Sydney Harbour.
The racecourse area will be set on Farm Cove, in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House and thousands of shoreside spectators are expected to turn out to watch the action at the free-to-enter public race village at Mrs Macquaries Point.
The village will be open daily from 10.00am, from 11-13 December 2015.
For more information, see: http://www.extremesailingseries.com