The Wave, Muscat’s Leigh McMillan talks from the Extreme Sailing Series in Cowes. For the first time ever in the history of the Extreme Sailing Series, the decision was made to cancel the racing on Wednesday due to extreme weather conditions.
The break from racing means the leaderboard remains unchanged with Oman Sail’s The Wave, Muscat in pole position. Leigh McMillan, the British Skipper of The Wave, Muscat shared his thoughts on the UK leg of Series so far.
“The weather today [Wednesday] is picking up all the time, we saw five or six broken masts coming into the harbour while we were getting ready to go sailing, so we knew it was windy! It’s the first time in the whole time I’ve been sailing extreme 40s that we haven’t got a race in, but it is the nature of the sport. It happens in Formula 1 due to rain and it happens in sailing because of the wind, so that’s just the way it is.
When racing in weather like this it’s the bear-away that is the hairiest point. Certainly earlier in the week, when it was really windy, you’re in the middle of a race, so your committed to it and I think there was at least three or four times when I said to the guys on the boat “I’m not sure about this one guys…” so today I don’t think we could have done it, I don’t think it was possible. There was one bear away achieved by Alingi but we could tell just from watching that they were right on the edge. If the boat comes away slowly then it’s not happening especially with spray over both hulls. Alingi obviously pulled it off, but with everyone going around the windward mark, or even if it was a split fleet, so six boats, it’s just going to be too full on. The race committee made the right decision and it’s good that as skippers, we feel that safety is a priority in these situations and that’s the way it’s got to be.
We are a very new team on The Wave, Muscat, this is our second event. We’ve got an incredibly talented bunch of sailors on our boat, very young as well, Kyle Langford from Australia has only just turned 22, so he’s the future of the sport – you’ll see him in the America’s cup in a few years time. The priority is to get on as a team; when you get on well as a team, the results start coming so we just need to keep focusing on that. The Wave, Muscat was very successful last year and we’d like to emulate that success at the end of this year.
The last event in Boston was a big surprise for us, we just held on to podium place and it was very tight at the end as there was a lot of potential from the other teams. But for Cowes, our goal is to try and get on the podium again. Although we are on top at the moment, anything can happen. Another day like this, or if a little bit less wind and we do get racing; we’re going to be holding on for dear life again.
Sailing against the other British Skippers is great, I wouldn’t say there was necessarily British rivalry, Paul Campbell-James and I have got healthy rivalry, not only from the past couple of years in Extreme 40s, but we’ve known each other for a while, since we were 10 years old in Optimists racing against each other. Its good rivalry but we’re all good friends and the whole fleet gets on well. We all have the same interest- winning races- but enjoying it at the same time. All these international sailors have a good relationship and when we’re on the water it’s fiercely competitive but when we’re on the shore we have a good laugh about it.
Every year the Extreme Sailing Series gets bigger and bigger, with 12 boats on the course this year. When we’re racing on this size track, there’s no room for error. But on top of that to have these Americas Cup teams racing, it is for sure the strongest competition that we’ve had on the circuit. I think you can see that in the overall results though, everyone’s up and down, if someone has a bad regatta or bad start to a regatta it’s quite hard to get it back.”
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