After four days and 22 races, Act 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series™ in Saint Petersburg presented by Land Rover came down to an edge-of-the-seat final race shoot out, with five teams gunning for the podium and no room for error.
The game of Russian roulette between The Wave, Muscat and Alinghi continued until the final double pointer, but the Omani team needed seven boats between them to overhaul the Swiss – which proved too tall an order for Leigh McMillan, and Alinghi comfortably took their third Act win of the season.
With the Series now at the halfway mark, Alinghi helmsman Morgan Larson has already turned his attentions towards the bigger picture: “It’s nice to put a little stamp on our win and to let the guys know that we’re here to try and win the whole Series this time.
The team is working well together and we finally feel confident that we can do it. Saying that, the heat is on, some teams are working really hard and we know that we’ll have to step up if we want to stay head.” Six short, sharp races were sailed on the final day, and by close of play the teams were jostling in the best conditions of the week, with 10 knots of breeze and 15 knot gusts, that swept over the top of the surrounding buildings on the Palace Embankment, in what is perhaps one of the most picturesque backdrops the high-performance Extreme 40s have ever raced in.
The British team, led by Olympic legend Ben Ainslie, was happy to settle for fourth, their best result of the season to date. “It’s certainly a better result than the previous events, and we’re improving which is great. I think we’re slowly starting to understand a bit more about this type of racing, the demands and how to be successful.” Looking ahead to the next Act and the UK round of the Series, Ainslie continued: “It will be great to sail on British waters.
It’s not often I get that opportunity so I’m really excited about it.” The British contingent received an extra honour during the event, when double Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ayton was the recipient of the second ‘Above and Beyond Award’ presented by Land Rover, in recognition of her engagement with the grassroots sailing community. Sarah, who won Olympic Gold for Great Britain in the Yngling class at both the Sydney and Beijing Olympic Games, is the Tactician for The Wave, Muscat, and in St Petersburg is the only female sailor in the 12-strong fleet of 60 elite-level sailors.