Britain's sailors taking the right tack

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The Independent Online

Britain turned on the power on the Olympic track that is Weymouth Bay yesterday going into the clubhouse with three of the top seven Finn sailors, among them triple gold and silver medallist Ben Ainslie, second, and Giles Scott third.

While there were rumblings of discontent about some of the race management – and the computers are struggling to provide an efficient results service – racing returned to normal after the dismal wet and windy conditions of the day before.

Tongue in cheek, Britain’s Olympic manager Stephen Park said of the Finn singlehanders: “It would be even better if we had three in the top three but in terms of where were are going for 2012 it’s good. There may be two years to go, but this is a Sailing World Cup event so we have come here expecting to be top nation.”

As the big fleets, like the 49ers, Lasers and windsurfers split into gold and silver en route to finding the top 10 in all 10 classes for the medal-deciding races on Saturday, the most disappointed was the new 470 women’s pairing of Sarah Ayton and Saskia Clark, who are 21st and will struggle, even if they make the medal 10, to be anywhere in the medal zone.

But Ayton’s husband Nick Dempsey leads the windsurfers by 10 points, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson are up to fifth in the Star, Clark ’s partner Paul Goodison leads the Lasers, and Lucy Macgregor is already in the match race gold fleet.

Many of the team managers have been critical of what they regard as overbearing interference in the role of the race offers by the International Sailing Federation observers.

They also resent protests brought by the race management against eight competitors, three windsurfers and five 470 pairs, for failure to operate properly the electronic tracking devices which show progress on the race course. “If they are disqualified, that could stop this experiment,” said one.