The scrap for the place to represent Britain in the high performance 49er dinghy at the Sydney Games in September intensified in the Chernikeeff Olympic trials in Weymouth yesterday.
As most classes took a day off, there were three races for these skittish, fast-accelerating 16-footers powered by big asymmetric spinnakers and requiring considerable athleticism on the part of the two-man crews.
Ian Barker and Simon Hiscocks proved unstoppable in the first two races yesterday and they lead the table with a five-point margin over Paul Brotherton and Moray Gray with seven of the 16 races sailed.
However, in the third race they were second to the Budgen brothers, Ian and Andy, from Ayr in Scotland, who had had to fight back from being forced to restart the second race of the day when they were over the line. The Budgens made it back to fourth in that event and are now third overall, two points behind Brotherton and Gray, with Tim Robinson and Zeb Elliott two more points further adrift.
Despite being beset with forecasts of big winds - more are said to be on the way today - the regatta is well on schedule and producing exactly the kind of racing which the Royal Yachting Olympic manager, John Derbyshire, wants. "Today we had tip-top conditions which almost exactly mirror the kind we can expect in Sydney in September," he said. "A steady nine to 11-knot southerly breeze with a bit of a nip, short, choppy waves, and even quite a lot of weed."
Two more races in the Finn singlehander brought two more wins for Iain Percy. He is making the process of winning Olympic selection look easy and if anything he is having to keep himself focused with six more races to go.
Under the scoring system Percy can discard his worst result, which is a second, leaving him with four firsts to count from the opening five races. "I'll just keep trying to take every race as it comes," he said.
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