Sailing: Ainslie eclipses Percy with style

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The Independent Online

Nothing beats praise from your own peer group. So when the Sydney gold medallist in the Finn class, Iain Percy, said of the two blistering wins here yesterday, by his successor, Ben Ainslie, "that was bloody impressive, I'll tell you" it was praise of the highest order.

Ainslie won gold himself in the smaller Laser, to add to the silver he won in 1996, so he is no stranger to winning. He calmly explained that it was all down to a change in starting strategy, which gave him more space to work in and so more options when it came to playing the tricky wind conditions up the course. Choosing that revised strategy illustrated that Ainslie was on top of his form and showing maximum determination. "Some days it all clicks and today was a good day," he said.

In the conditions Ainslie was in a league of his own, but Percy, who had been overall leader of the Star two-man keelboat class after the opening pair of races, was having a more frustrating day. He was flagged for penalty because his crew, Steve Mitchell, stood up to switch the headsail pole from one side to the other. "I have never experienced such a bad decision," said Percy, having complained to the judge that it was impossible to complete the manoeuvre without standing up.

That pushed the current world champions down to next to last and a sixth in the second race only kept him at seventh overall.

But, on a generally good day for a British squad enjoying the dress rehearsal 12 months out from the Olympic Games, Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith moved up to second overall in the 49er, Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield to fourth overall in the 470, and the pairing of Christina Bassadone and Katherine Hopson had a regatta-best third in the women's 470.

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