Ainslie back on crest of wave

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The Independent Online

The strength in depth of the British sailing team was in full view yesterday as the trio of Shirley Robertson, Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton went into the lead in the Yngling class, the men's pair of Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield topped the table in the 470 dinghy, and Ben Ainslie produced a tour de force in the Finn class that left rivals and spectators alike gasping.

The strength in depth of the British sailing team was in full view yesterday as the trio of Shirley Robertson, Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton went into the lead in the Yngling class, the men's pair of Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield topped the table in the 470 dinghy, and Ben Ainslie produced a tour de force in the Finn class that left rivals and spectators alike gasping.

The two wins by Ainslie were displays of immense character and have played him right back into medal contention. Robertson's two victories were crafted out of superb confidence and boat handling as others floundered. There were heartening displays too, from both Paul Goodison, in the Laser, and the women's pair of Christina Bassadone and Katherine Hopson, in the 470.

If the 27-year-old Ainslie had been offered a bitter dish of adversity on the first day, he came back with an appetite not just undiminished, but ravenous for success. The kind of mental strength he showed to shrug off his earlier disqualification and the harsh punishment of being demoted from second to last is a measure of just what a special talent and competitor Ainslie is.

In the first race of the day he had to fight back from being 16th at the end of the first leg and there was almost a sense of inevitability about it when he popped out in front. And when, after exchanging the lead with veteran rival Sebastien Godefroid, of Belgium, in the second race, Ainslie was pushing so hard that, just as he went into the lead at the end, Godefroid capsized less than 100m from the finish line. The message was rammed home.

If the points for the earlier disqualification were removed, Ainslie would be second overall. That will happen after the fifth race and, on the water, it is honours even with the overall leader Mateusz Kusnierewicz, of Poland, each beating the other twice. The breeze is expected to be strong again today.

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