Britain’s crown prince of sailing, quadruple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie, was toppled yesterday in a Round the Island race slowed by light winds as 1,750 starters tackled the 50-mile obstacle course that is the Isle of Wight.
After a race which at times had all the eye-catching excitement of a developing oyster bed, the first of three X40 catamarans to cross the finish, Oman Sail Masirah, was skippered by Olympic bronze medallist Chris Draper, 29 seconds ahead of Olympic gold medallist Russell Coutts in Team Aqua with Ainslie a further five minutes and 13 seconds adrift.
But the monohull record holder Mike Slade, in the 100-foot Leopard, eventually shook off the only other 100-footer, Tony Todd’s new Liara and Seb Josse led home the Open 60s in Ellen MacArthur’s BT.
A mid-afternoon improved breeze then helped the fleet home, when it did not leave the boats in patches of calm, leaving the prospect of the Gold Roman Bowl for the overall handicap winner going to one of the smaller boats.
In Troia, reigning world match race champion Ian Williams knocked out Sebastien Col to book a place in the semi-finals today.
With less than 500 miles to go, Dee Caffari, Sam Davies, Miranda Merron and Alex Sizer were still on course to break the round British Isles record in the Open 60 Aviva. They need to avoid light airs in the Channel to cross the finish line off Ventnor, on the south side of the Isle of Wight, by 01.00 on Tuesday.