COWES WEEKISLAND sailor Leigh McMillan tamed the Extreme 40 'beast’ to hold on to his lead on the penultimate day of the Extreme Sailing Series.
The Extreme 40 crews were tested to the limit in the breezy conditions that dominated Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week yesterday (Thursday).
The 11 Extreme 40s were divided into groups as the conditions were still on the limit to race the fleet in one group with reefed mainsails but gennakers permitted after the first two races.
The most tense moments came on the first beat of each race when the Extreme 40s would get as close as possible into shore and occasionally not get enough room to tack.
But despite some hair-raising moments, none of the boats went aground.
In fact it was the strong tide that proved the major stumbling block with several crews underestimating the angle of the rope tethering the weather mark.
As a result, several snagged it on their rudders causing them to pop up, perhaps the most dramatic being when Luna Rossa careered off downwind seeming to gybe twice accidentally before they got their Extreme 40 under control.
Team Extreme suffered the same fate in the third race and crewman Benedikt Wenk cut his hand as he attempted to get the rudder back down.
Wenk required a couple of stitches and Roland Gaebler’s team had to retire from racing for the day.
The star of the competition was ex-Tornado sailor Pierre Pennec and the crew of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild who won three of their four races.
Their third race was the tightest of the day with McMillian first to the top mark with the French team on their transom.
There were whoops from the crowd ashore as the French crew came close to rolling past their Omani rivals.
However, the real coup for the French team came on the second run when McMillan's The Wave, Muscat crew thought they had crossed the finish line only to find that the race had been extended to finish on the next upwind leg.
This wavering allowed the French team to overhaul them and to take their third win of their day by a matter of centimetres.
Alinghi won their third race of the day and Tanguy Cariou was satisfied with their performance.