|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. Stevie Morrison skipper of Oman Air is going to be pushing hard for points as he targets a podium result.|
|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.
“Sydney is a terrific but tricky venue and I’m sure we will get a bit of everything out there in the harbour. We have had a great midseason and there is every chance we can complete the year with a win. But there is a lot that can go wrong.
“We need to be vigilant with the boat because we saw some major gear failure in Istanbul – it’s things like that that can come back and bite you. Hopefully the boat will make it to the end of the event and we will perform well on it.”
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!”
Ayton will once again team up with Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari and Ed Smyth to roll out a result to cap off a brilliant year for the Omani team.
“We have had a really good year and to say goodbye to Leigh in Sydney with another championship win would be a great way to call time on an incredible era for all of us and would be a great moment of pride for our sponsor The Wave, Muscat and the Sultanate of Oman,” said Al Mashari. “But we all know that there is a lot of racing ahead, so for the moment, we are focused on the job we have to do and hope for a good outcome.”
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 Wave, Muscat only need an average result – they have done a lot of winning this year including Sarah’s fantastic award – so that might give us an opportunity to advance up the leaderboard!”
Oman Sail will have a strong presence at the Extreme Sailing Series in Sydney with their two distinctive Extreme 40 boats out on the water and the Sultanate of Oman’s ‘Oman Sail Pavilion’ in the Botanical Gardens and alongside it, a hospitality area, the ‘Oman Chalet’.
The pavilion will host a mix of business and social functions, including a presentation on Oman as a sports tourism and investment destination and provide an opportunity for supporters to meet the Oman Sail stars and get their autographs.
At the Chalet, Oman’s Ministry of Tourism will host around 20 guests each day while sponsors Oman Air and The Wave, Muscat have committed to a range of activities to ensure Australian crowds leave the Race Village at Farm Cove with little doubt of Oman’s allure as a holiday destination.
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