Sailing: Percy and Mitchell regain form

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The Independent Online

After one little hiccup, a 13th in the opening race, the partnership of the Sydney gold medallist Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell was again at full chat in the Star keelboat World Championship here yesterday. They added another win and a second to the two wins they had scored so convincingly on their opening day, and lead the class after five races because they are now able to discard that 13th.

They coped coolly with conditions that ranged from light airs to 20-knot puffs and are clearly feeling happier. "Maybe confidence had been down and we had had a bad couple of events, but we have been sailing steadily, making no mistakes, taking less risks."

Ben Ainslie is also known for becoming stronger as a regatta progresses, so hearing him say that he would be happy with a top-three place as defender of the world title and then seeing him notch up a third and a fifth in the opening pair of races can only have sent a shiver down the spine of his competitors.

Not that Finn sailors are known for a lack of self-confidence, and that never-say-die attitude could not have been more perfectly demonstrated than by Ainslie himself in his second race.

Having "messed up a bit, I really got the first leg badly wrong," he said. He was 32nd at the top mark and finished the day fourth overall with the leader, Sebastien Godefroid, of Belgium, being the only one of his serious rivals ahead of him.

Yesterday saw Shirley Robertson start the second half of her campaign in the three-woman Yngling class as the remainder of the 11 Olympic classes simultaneously contested their world championships, the 49er high performance dinghy, the 470 dinghy for both men and women, the Tornado catamaran and the Laser singlehander.

The first of the 11 world champions has already been crowned. Siren Sundby of Norway won the Europe singlehander, the class in which Robertson won gold in Sydney. Laura Baldwin is the top-placed Briton in 31st.

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