Ed Wright battles illness ahead of Finn class race


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The Independent Online

An eve-of-racing battle with an infected leg was being waged by medics and physiotherapists for defending world champion Ed Wright in Fremantle over the weekend.

A carefully monitored programme of antibiotics on what has been a recurring infection was expected to allow him to open his account tomorrow in what is expected to be a fierce competition between five British competitors in the Finn heavyweight singlehanded dinghy class.

Britain has already selected Ben Ainslie, who has consecutive Olympic gold medal victories in the class, plus silver and gold in the lighter weight Laser in 1996 and 2000, for the team at the Weymouth sailing venue in 2012.

But Wright, current European champion Giles Scott, plus Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews are all hungry to prove a point and Scott insists that Britain’s Olympic sailing manager Stephen Park has given them carte blanche to race each other hard. Ainslie has been Finn world champion five times.

Also starting their race programme tomorrow are the Lasers for women, and the two-handed 470 dinghy for men.  In the 470 Britain has already chosen the rising stars of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark in the women’s division but is expected to decide at this regatta the men’s pairing. Triple Olympian and double silver medallist Nick Rogers, now crewed by Chris Grube, has mortgaged himself to the tune of £90,000 to hold off the challenges of Nic Asher and Eliott Willis plus Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell. Winning with a medal should decide it. Australia’s Matthew Belcher and Malcolm Page have their eyes only on gold.

Already up and running is the women’s match racing trio of Lucy Macgregor, sister Kate, and Annie Lush. Despite a wobble, not helped by a 180-degree switch in wind direction, they lost their only match of the day to an Australian team skippered by Olivia Price. But wins against Spain, Denmark and Sweden, with their main rivals also losing at least one race, left them jointly leading Group B with a 3-1 scoreline.