Percy eyes Sydney place

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The Independent Online

A fully fit Iain Percy returns to the fray in Weymouth today, determined to put his Olympic campaign back on track. The 23-year-old from Winchester was forced to abandon his defence of the European Finn Championship which he won in Nieuwpoort, Belgium, last year when he was doubled up in pain with stomach cramp in Palma de Mallorca last week.

However, he is favourite to win the Chernikeeff Olympic trials this week and book his place for Sydney alongside his old rival Ben Ainslie in the other singlehander, the Laser. Also pre-selected are Shirley Robertson in the Europe and the rising hopes in the two-man Star class keelboat, Ian Walker and Mark Covell.

After a brief flurry of racing for the 470 dinghy, Tornado catamaran and windsurfer classes in the morning, the competitors were held ashore yesterday afternoon as the wind gusted to between 25 and 30 knots. The forecast is for more strong winds during the week, especially on Thursday, but the selectors can either name representatives on the basis of this week's sailing or call for further regattas to be taken into account.

Nor do the tough conditions worry the Royal Yachting Association's Olympic manager, John Derbyshire. "What we would like is a range of wind strengths and wave conditions as we believe that's what we might have to face in Sydney," he said. "It is quite possible to get a southerly gale there and that could continue for seven to 10 days. So we have to be prepared both in terms of fitness and gear preparation."

The three-man Soling class does not start its match race knock-out until Friday with the Andy Beadsworth, Barry Parkin and Richard Sydenham trio in top form after successful preparations in Europe.

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