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Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 8, Sydney - Overall

by Extreme Sailing Series 13 Dec 2015 12:00 GMT 10-13 December 2015

British multihull racer Leigh McMillan was officially crowned the most successful skipper in the nine-year history of the Extreme Sailing Series™ in Sydney today when he clinched an unprecedented third championship title.

McMillan and his crew on The Wave, Muscat completed his hat-trick in superb style with yet another convincing Act win on a breezy Sydney Harbour and against the stunning backdrop of the Sydney Opera House in front of thousands of spectators who lined the waterfront.

"We live for days like today, it was absolutely awesome," said an elated McMillan after picking up the Land Rover Above an Beyond Award for man of the match. "It means so much to me, I just feel so chuffed about the way it's gone. Sailing with the team and building those relationships has been incredible."

The key to The Wave, Muscat's success not only lies in McMillan's experience on the helm but in the consistent performance of his outstanding crew.

These include British double Olympic gold medallist and current ISAF World Sailor of the Year Sarah Ayton, America's Cup sailors Pete Greenhalgh and Ed Smyth and Omani sailor Nasser Al Mashari.

With the Act and 2015 Series crown decided by mid-afternoon, the battle raged for the remaining podium positions.

Second-placed SAP Extreme Sailing Team almost lost it all to Red Bull Sailing Team in the closing moments of the final, double-points race, after a collision with Gazprom Team Russia disabled the Danish team's steering system knocking them out of the race.

Having worked hard all week, their second place in Sydney – and more importantly the coveted runner's-up spot on the 2015 Series leaderboard – was at stake.

The Danish co-skippers Rasmus Kostner and Jes Gram Hansen could do nothing but watch as Red Bull Sailing Team raced on, taking as many valuable points as possible from the Danes.

However, despite a gallant effort from Red Bull Sailing Team, third place in the final race just wasn't enough for helm Roman Hagara to bridge the points gap and the Austrian team finish in Sydney and the 2015 Series podium in third.

"It was horrible," explained a relieved Gram-Hansen. "Just after the collision we didn't know how it would go with the points. But to finally get the result we wanted after all our hard work feels fantastic. We are so proud of the journey we have been on over four years with SAP, starting as rookies and now second on the circuit is just fantastic."

Sydney Harbour produced superb conditions for racing this week and today was no exception, with a number of near-misses and with GAC Pindar, Lino Sonego Team Italia and Oman Air all coming close to capsizing, much to the delight of the crowds watching from Mrs Macquaries Point.

Leading the chasing pack in Sydney, Oman Air, Team Turx and Gazprom Team Russia finished the Act in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. But perhaps the biggest cheers of the week went to the final three boats, Lino Sonego Team Italia, GAC Pindar and Australian wild card team 33 South Racing, as they hurtled around the racetrack.

The Sydney Act and the end of the 2015 season sees the Extreme Sailing Series bid a fond farewell to the Extreme 40 catamarans as Series originators and organisers OC Sport usher in a new era with the GC23 hydro-foiling catamaran as the weapon of choice from the start of 2016.

Over the last nine years the Series has seen millions of spectators and thousands of VIP guests watch the racing from the shore. In 2016 the Extreme Sailing Series is set to continue to break new ground and innovate as it brings cutting edge foiling boats into its unique city-centre Stadium Racing settings.

Extreme Sailing Series™ 2015 final overall results:

1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 87 points.
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 74 points.
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 70 points.
4th Oman Air (OMA) 58 points.
5th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) 51 points.
6th Team Turx (TUR) 44 points.
7th GAC Pindar (GBR) 43 points.
8th Lino Sonego Team Italia (ITA) 42 points.

Act 8, Sydney final standings after Day 4:

1st The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari 213 points.
2nd SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Mads Emil Stephensen, Brad Farrand 198 points.
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Lionel Vaucher, Shaun Mason, Stewart Dodson 196 points.
4th Oman Air (OMA) Stevie Morrison, Nic Asher, Ted Hackney, Ed Powys, Ali Al Balashi 174 points.
5th Team Turx (TUR) Mitch Booth, Edhem Dirvana, Selim Kakis, Diogo Cayolla, Pedro Andrade 160 points.
6th Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Pavel Kalinichev, Pavel Karachi, Alexander Bozhko, Aleksey Kulakov 143 points.
7th Lino Sonego Team Italia (ITA) Enrico Zennaro, Pierre Pennec, Nevio Sabadin, Stefano Rizzi,Tom Buggy 125 points.
8th GAC Pindar (GBR) Adam Minoprio, Seve Jarvin, Jeremy Lomas, James Wierzbowski, Tyson Lamond 122 points.
9th 33 South Racing (AUS) Katie Spithill, Matthew Chew, Stacey Jackson, Henry Kernot, Luke Payne 97 points.

Update from Oman Sail

Drawing the game-changing era of Extreme 40 racing to a close, McMillan and his crew of Nasser Al Mashari, Pete Greenhalgh, Sarah Ayton and Ed Smyth continued their dominance of the 2015 season by winning the final double points race to claim victory in the eighth and final Act of the season with Oman Sail stable mates Oman Air running in a close second.

It was their fifth consecutive win this season following successes in Cardiff, Hamburg, St Petersburg and Istanbul and establishes a record that will stand forever due to the Extreme 40 catamarans being replaced by the foiling GC32s for the 2016 Extreme Sailing season.

McMillan's record in claiming his third championship Extreme 40 crown, following title wins in 2012 and 2013, will also stand for all time and marks a fitting end to his career in the class ahead of a move into America's Cup racing with Land Rover BAR of Britain in 2016. The Wave, Muscat's 2015 crown brings the total number of titles to four after Paul Campbell-James started the ball rolling in 2010

"I'm absolutely ecstatic," said McMillan, who has been The Wave, Muscat skipper for five years. "We won the last race, the last Extreme 40 event and the last Extreme 40 championship and it doesn't get any better than that!

"We wanted to win the event and once again it was a stand out performance from the guys so we are very, very happy. It has been an awesome week and a great way to end this chapter."

David Graham, Oman Sail CEO, praised The Wave, Muscat's team effort and paid special tribute to McMillan.

"Oman Sail is privileged to work with such driven athletes," he said. "Our sailors joined this circuit with one objective and they knew that winning the season wasn't going to be easy, especially with the impressive line-up of competitors. The focussed, disciplined team had a great leader in Leigh McMillan – we are indebted to him for his efforts over the years and we are sorry to see him leave. He is a huge asset to any team and we wish him all the best in his new role.

"The Wave, Muscat team has an incredible depth of knowledge with impressive teamwork. This win hugely advances our objectives with the Ministry of Tourism of Oman and that is thanks to our fabulous sailors and the wider team."

Al Mashari, the Omani bowman who has been a key member of The Wave, Muscat's crew dedicated the win to the Sultanate of Oman and his team's supporters.

"It has been an incredible feeling to win after a challenging final day, and I would like to present this victory to my beloved country Oman and all of those who have been supporting me along the season," he said.

Fighting for a coveted podium place, Stevie Morrison's crew on Oman Air pulled out all the stops in the finale to close the event in fourth place, which also left them fourth in the overall 2015 rankings, up three places on 2014. The British Olympic skipper who joined the Extreme Sailing Series at the start of the year was one of the first to congratulate his Oman Sail teammates on The Wave, Muscat. "Well done to Leigh and the crew," said Morrison.

"They came into the season with a lot of expectation and pressure and they delivered. It is not that easy and you can only do it by working hard and building on experience. They executed to the top of their game all season and deserve their success.

"On Oman Air, we had a lot to learn when we started out this season because most of us had never raced on multihulls before but we have grown as a team and developed strong friendships with a lot of respect for each other which has meant everyone has tried their best at all times. It has been a steep learning curve but great fun."

Update from GAC Pindar

GAC Pindar wrapped up their 2015 season with a mixed day of racing on Sunday. A race win on the final day, book ended what has ultimately been a very positive season for GAC Pindar both on and off the water.

The team showed glimpses of the strong form they have shown this season, with a dominant race win in race 26 on the final day, in which they led from the front and showed great composure to keep their cool and hold on to top spot – one of two first place finishes in Sydney.

The strong winds in Sydney harbour led to some very tricky conditions for local boy Seve Jarvin and his crew and while the results may not have quite lived up to expectations, the GAC Pindar crew were delighted to leave Sydney Harbour dry after last season's spectacular capsize in the same event.

However, this season has been about so much more than just results for GAC Pindar as Team Principal Andrew Pindar explains, "This has been a fantastic season for the GAC Pindar sailing program. While results in Sydney might not quite have been up to the level we were hoping, there was still some great sailing out there in tricky conditions.

GAC Pindar has made a commitment to nurturing and developing talented sailors from around the globe. It has meant that we have one of the most diverse and international teams around. We've had sailors male and female from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, America, Holland and Japan to name a few, incorporating Olympic medallists and multiple world champions.

It has been a great pleasure to watch the different combinations of crew we've had over the course of the season work together to do the best they can for the GAC Pindar team. There have been plenty of positive results along the way, but the most important thing for us is the opportunity to engage with the incredibly diverse and exciting sailing community – which we are honoured to be part of.

From everyone here at GAC Pindar we'd just like to say thank you to everybody that's been involved over the course of the season, be that on the water or behind the scenes. It has been a real team effort and has made 2015 a tremendous year for us."

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