The French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild ended the day where they started it - at the top of the Act 7 leaderboard in Nice with a win in the penultimate Act of the year on home soil.
Spurred on by the cheers of support, Pierre Pennec led his men to an impressive four race wins on the final day and with it secured third place on the overall Series leaderboard as the fleet heads to the 2012 finale in Rio de Janeiro.
Going into the final double points race Pennec had to keep three boats between him and McMillan to claim victory and the race was won at the start when McMillan found himself stuck in the second row from which he never recovered. Only a major faux pas would have prevented Pennec from claiming a win that was arguably rightfully theirs after a strong performance over the last three days and 28 races. "I am very happy with the victory, my team has got back for their hard work. The conditions allowed us to indulge physically and tactically we were going fast. Returning to the third place overall is great. We will try again to sail well in Rio and then we'll see the overall standings at the end of the year. Anything can happen until the last moment."
For McMillan, the slight disappointment to finish second and not claim his fourth Act win was surpassed by the fact he has guaranteed his team a podium position in the overall Series standings. The only question now is what position that will be. "We are a bit disappointed not to win. We did our best, second is still good, and the focus is always on winning the overall Series. It's fantastic to be on the podium with one event to go and plenty of points up for grabs; it was pretty unexpected. We are very much focused on winning. That is our goal and has been all year - we've been pushing hard all year and that's what we're going to try to pull out of the bag. Hopefully we can go in and finish the job in Rio."
The second team hailing from Oman completed the Act 7, Nice podium in third place after giving their teammates a run for their money in the final race. Friends on land but definitely not on water, Larson had a tactical eye on McMillan all week. "We managed to put them (Groupe Edmond de Rothschild) under a bit of pressure, but trying to put pressure on them without letting The Wave, Muscat slip through was the challenge because we need to hold our points on The Wave. It's definitely not game over, but with the way they've been sailing it's going to be tough. For us it's going to be a bit more focus on holding second place. We feel like we are on track for achieving the goal of a podium finish and if we have a solid event in Rio then we will have that spot. If The Wave, Muscat makes a big error, then we will be there to take it."
It wasn't all celebrations dock-side this evening in the French Riviera and there was bitter disappointment for Roman Hagara on Red Bull Sailing Team. The team never seemed to recover their stride from their crash on day two and finished in sixth place - but more significantly for the Austrian double Olympic gold medallist they may have put their chances of a podium position in the overall Series in jeopardy falling to fourth overall. "It makes it hard for us to be on the podium now but I think there is still a good chance we can bring it back. We have to be tight in Rio and we have to go out to win that Act to guarantee our place."
The Jaguar NeilPryde Racing Series brought the Act in Nice to a close with current RS:X World Champion windsurfer Julien Bontemps fighting off competition from 20 of France's top windsurfers to claim victory on the Bay of Angels before taking on Team Extreme Ville de Nice in a head to head battle.
Whilst the frontrunners hold their own private battle for the 2012 podium, the British GAC Pindar and Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team have their own fight developing mid-fleet with only 5.5 points separating the two teams, and the Swiss Alinghi just five points shy of that.
With the stage now set for the final in Rio de Janeiro from 6-9 December it is McMillan's team who lead the overall 2012 rankings by 7.5 points and with four teams capable of a podium place, Rio de Janeiro will be a great battle.
Extreme Sailing Series 201
2 Act 7, Nice, France standings after Day 4, 28 races (21.10.12)
Position / Team / Points
1. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA), Pierre Pennec 173 points
2. The Wave, Muscat (OMA), Leigh McMillan, 161.3 points
3. Oman Air (OMA), Morgan Larson, 159 points
4. GAC Pindar (GBR), Ian Williams, 134 points
5. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN), Jes Gram-Hansen, points
6. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT), Roman Hagara,.7 points
7. Alinghi (SUI), Ernesto Bertarelli, 102 points
8. Team Extreme Ville de Nice (FRA), Erik Maris, 69 points
Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Overall Series Results after Act 7, Nice
Position / Team / Points
1. The Wave, Muscat 61.5 points
2. Oman Air 54 points
3. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild 51 points
4. Red Bull Sailing Team 48.5 points
5. GAC Pindar 38.5 points
6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team 33 points
7. Alinghi 28 points
8. ZouLou 23.5 points