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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links