Triple Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie rammed home his dominance as the world’s top singlehanded dinghy racer with a team-inspiring second gold medal at world series event, this time in Hyeres, France.
He had the top spot in the bag with a race to spare, but went into the medal decider determined not to cruise round. He won that, too, his seventh bullet of the week.
The real race is to be selected to go for his fourth consecutive gold and a fifth Olympic medal – he won silver in 1996 - on home waters next year. Being the host country, Britain automatically qualifies for a place in all of the 10 events but Ainslie had to regroup after British America’s Cup dreams collapsed and rivals like world champion Ed Wright and much younger rival Giles Scott were threatening.
Ainslie was upbeat about his performance this week. “The last two regattas have been really good for me – I seem to be happy with the kit development we’ve done over the winter and speed seems to be reasonably good in some conditions and very good in others, so hopefully I’ve got a package I’m happy with so I’ve just got to go out there and race well,” he told class commentator Robert Deaves. ”The important thing is to try and keep the consistency, and try and keep things rolling along for the next event.”
He continued, “I’m really looking forward to the next regatta which will be Skandia Sail for Gold, which, being at the Olympic venue, is obviously a bit more relevant in terms of the Games next year. Hopefully I can keep the form going and keep the results coming along for that regatta as well, so that’s really the focus now.”
Also winning gold was the women’s match racing trio of the Macgregor sisters Lucy and Kate, with Annie Lush, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell took gold in the paralympic Skud – with Alex Hovden and Kate Mannerings second – and Britain took silver and bronze in the women’s 470 dinghy through Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, followed by Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes.
In the 2.4m paralympic singlehander this was repeated as Megan Pascoe took silver and, on her 36th birthday, Helena Lucas bronze. Also winning bronze was the 2008 bronze medalist Bryony Shaw in the windsurfer