Ainslie's challenge hits the rocks early

The British sailing team were rocked late last night when their gold-medal favourite Ben Ainslie was disqualified from the second race of the Olympic regatta dropping him down the rankings from a nicely-poised fourth after day one to 19th.

Ainslie had had a difficult first race but managed to salvage ninth place from a poor start. Then as the sea breeze kicked in and his mental resolve began visbly to fire, he returned to imperious form in race two to finish second behind the Pole Mateusz Kusznierewicz, his main rival for the gold medal.

But unbeknown to Ainslie, the French sailor Guillaume Florent had filed a protest and Ainslie was dragged back from the British team accommodation to answer it. Florent claimed Ainslie had not given way when required early in the second race and with the onus on Ainslie as the keep-clear boat in a port and starboard situation to prove he had kept clear and with no witnesses to support his claim, the British sailor was disqualified, dropping him from fourth overall overnight to 19th. It will be a long and hard road back to gold for Ainslie from here.

"As far as I'm concerned there wasn't any incident and I wasn't in the wrong," said a devastated Ainslie from the team house. "He tried to make something of it as it was the Olympics and I've got no witnesses and there was no jury [in the vicinity]. I'm frustrated, disappointed and angry and all I can do is get my head down and sail the best I have ever sailed from here."

Off the same start line but on an adjacent course Shirley Robertson, Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton managed to put a more consistent day together in the Yngling class to finish yesterday in third overall behind France and Holland. The British trio are more comfortable in the more predictable and stronger breezes that are forecast to arrive in the form of the Meltemi wind today and were happy to start both races in good shape and sail both fast enough and conservatively enough to file a fifth and a fourth on a day when top performers in one race were nowhere to be seen the next.

But the real star performers of the day for Britain were Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield who lead the men's 470 class after day one with an immaculate second and third in difficult racing conditions; this was no lucky performance. "We were quite conservative, the main thing is not to throw it away on the first day, we've got another nine races to go and we would have been happy with two results inside the top six," said Rogers afterwards.

The British team are more familiar with the conditions here than any other team at the Games having set up a training base almost as soon as the Sydney medal ceremony was over. Yesterday it paid on the 470 course when the wind flicked around and made racing tactics very difficult. "It's knowing when it's going to flick left and further left or whether it's going to flick right and that's something we have spent a lot of time on," Rogers said. "I think some people were surprised by how the wind behaved today but not us."

Today racing begins for the Laser, Europe and Men's and Women's Mistral classes. A Meltemi is forecast, the strong northerly breeze that blows in this region. After the lottery potential of the first day of racing in Athens, the British team will be happy to have got off relatively unscathed and looking like performing to the pre-regatta form guide.

The big cloud, though, is Ainslie's disqualification, which, as he is the standard-bearer of the team, has soured the opening of an event for a group who have worked tirelessly for four years in an effort to live up to the heavy billing that was signalled by the three golds and two silvers from Sydney in 2000.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine