Sailing: Percy and Mitchell lay marker for British fleet

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The Independent Online

Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell headed a strong day for Great Britain here yesterday by maintaining their lead in the Star Class world championship after finishing second in both races, with just three to go in the 11-race series.

Shirley Robertson, with crew Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton, needs only a respectable final race today to secure a top-eight finish overall in the Yngling class and, with it, selection for the British team for the Olympics next year.

Britons are also well placed in the Finn class, with Ben Ainslie moving up to second, despite a 19th in his fifth race, while Andrew Simpson scored a first and a third to end the day third overall.

The result was hugely satisfying for Simpson, who has had to live in Ainslie's shadow since their days in the Laser, in which Ainslie won Olympic silver in 1996 and then gold in 2000. The pair moved up to the Finn class together after Sydney and Ainslie won world, European and pre-Olympic golds, taking the limelight from Simpson's climb to seventh in the world in the process.

Ainslie is consistent, has phenomenal talent and a frightening will to win. Percy,who won gold in the Finn class in Sydney, has tipped him to win in Athens, and Ainslie, by his own high standards, insists his best is yet to come, describing second overall here as "going through a bad patch".

Happier were Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks, who led the 49ers after six races.