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British squad rack up more medals in Miami

Britain continued its winning ways in Miami as the Olympic sailing squad racked up more medals despite some of the top names being absent from the Rolex world series event.

The first gold medal went to Nick Thompson in the Laser singlehander, the class in which Paul Goodison is the reigning Olympic champion. He had the medal in the bag before the race to decide the medal positions.

A previous Laser gold medallist and current king of the Finn class, triple gold winner Ben Ainslie, was also absent as two top rivals in the Finn class, Ed Wright and Giles Scott, respectively took the gold and silver medals.

And the latest holders of the golden girls slot, Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Ally Martin, were unbeaten all the way to the final of the match racing, where they first took a 2-0 lead only to see America’s British-born Laser Radial gold medal winner in China, Anna Tunnicliffe come back and win three to take the gold.

Nic Asher and Eliot Willis missed a medal by just on point in a 470 dinghy class where the Israeli winners scored 82 and a countback gave the silver to Australia and the bronze to Sweden, both on 83.

In Valencia, the game of psychological pressure ahead of the America’s Cup a week tomorrow, 8 February, continued with a barrage of complaints to the international jury.

The American challenger has asked the panel of four men and one woman to rule tomorrow (Monday) on everything from a late move to reinstate a ban on special friction reduction treatments to make the triple hulls of its giant trimaran more slippery through the water to starting times for the best of three race series. The old rules require mutual agreement on race start times.

It also wants the defender, Switzerland’s Alinghi, to be more explicit about the wind and wave conditions it wishes to impose, and to rescind an attempted ban on a piece of electronic wizardry to detect wind conditions one kilometre up the course.

Other matters, such as the way the two yachts are measured, may also be raised but the Americans believe they are in full compliance with a rule about where they keep their yacht, USA, in a specially constructed pit area. They had argued that managing its 185-foot wing mast in the cramped inner harbour area was not just impracticable but dangerous.

With New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich having put on hold any ruling on the legality of Alinghi’s American-sourced, but team-designed sails, there now seems little that could stop the bitterly-contested match going ahead, though the weather could cause all sorts of delays.

And as uncertain as the guessing game over which will be the faster yacht over courses that could take them 20 miles out into the eastern Mediterranean is whether either is well-enough prepared to avoid gear damage being the deciding factor.

There is even a judgment to be made over how much either team risks its boat in training sessions knowing that any catastrophic failure would mean the game was over before it had begun.