Ainslie overcomes light winds and heavy protests

The threat of green slime is back but Britain's Olympic sailors are leading two of the three events which have got under way on the pressure-cooker racetrack on the Yellow Sea and, in the third, the threatening presence of Ben Ainslie, up a place to second yesterday, is waiting to pounce.

"It sets the tone for the next two weeks," said the Royal Yachting Association's Lindsey Bell, adding that there was still a long way to go.

Ainslie knows that he is constantly having to watch his back in the heat of competition. In his first race yesterday he voluntarily took two penalty turns after an altercation with the American who is leading the Finn singlehander, Zach Railey.

"I thought I was crossing, but it was a classic port and starboard issue and he probably wanted to push the issue. It made life difficult for me, all the same." Railey finished second.

"I just want to stay out of trouble," he said, "but I ended giving up an awful lot of distance. Wherever I go anywhere near anybody they start shouting 'protest' at me. I want to keep my nose clean and so far I have done that."

Well enough to post a fourth, despite the twin penalty turn, and a first, which left him five points behind the American and 12 points ahead of third-placed Chris Cook of Canada. One of the pre-event favourites to rival Ainslie, Emilios Papthanasiou of Greece, again attracted penalty flags and was sent home. "I don't think boats should be disqualified," said a sympathetic Ainslie. "I think that's tough."

All of Ainslie's other top rivals are suffering on what was already a difficult track, prone to light winds and strong tides. Just a few days before the regatta, a virtual carpet of green, seaweed-like algae was cleared in a huge operation involving thousands of people. Yesterday, increasing numbers of clumps were appearing. "It's a bit of a concern," Ainslie said. "It's just about getting to the size when it catches on your centreboard or rudder or you have to sail round it."

For the Yngling trio of Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson a "really tough day", according to Wilson, ended with a fourth and a seventh being enough to extend their lead from five points to seven at the end of the first day.

They are still struggling to nail a commanding start but are fast enough to dig themselves out of trouble and a surge on the last leg of the second race turned a 14th out of 15 at the end of the first lap into a seventh made doubly valuable because the dangerous Dutch trio was 13th, pushed into third overall, one ahead of the equally fancied US team, skippered by Sally Barkow.

"We always kept our heads down," Wilson said, "in fact, I am a bit brain-fried. But, so far so good and every day we are just concentrating on the next race."

In front of a packed crowd who lined the harbour wall on a sultry Sunday, the 49er fleet made its acrobatic entrance with the performance dinghy's need for consistency equally imperative. A fourth, third and fifth gave Britain's Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes a one-point lead over the Italian brothers Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello, but this is the only scheduled 16-race series – the rest are 11 – and Morrison was in reflective mood. "We just tried not to freak out and not forget the basics. All we did today was worry about doing the right things at the right times. We've just got to go and do the same tomorrow."

Today sees the pace of the schedule pick up even more as four more classes – men's and women's 470 dinghy and men and women windsurfers – join the fray. But there remain concerns that the winds may be even lighter than yesterday's eight-knot south-easterly.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor