Britain on course in medals chase

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The Independent Online

They are in the fight of their lives but Britain's sailors, with one, not fully justified, exception, were in upbeat mood today as setbacks were overcome and medals on the minefield of a track that is Fushan Bay stayed firmly in prospect.

"A few more like that and it will be the way to go," said Christina Bassadone, campaigning the 470 dinghy with Saskia Clark. "We sailed well today and made some good decisions," said one of their opposite numbers, Joe Glanfield, a silver medallist in Athens and at the sharp end of a 470 in partnership with Nick Rogers.

"It was a brilliant day," said windsurfer Nick Dempsey, bronze last time. "The Olympics are all about personal bests and for me it was probably a personal best today."

"I think I have a bit of a speed advantage," said Laser sailor Paul Goodison, recovering from a 14th in his opening race to be second in the next. In the women's Laser radial, Penny Clark, see-sawing between second and 22nd but finishing ninth overall on the day, said: "These are my conditions and if we get some more I'm expecting to be right up there."

Leading Shaw's fleet is Anna Tunnicliffe of the United States, but the 25-year old lived the first half of her life in Britain, having been born in Doncaster, so Britain has two cracks at being in medal contention.

Goodison, from Rotherham, fourth in Athens and just having won his fourth consecutive European championship, said: "There's no way you can sail conservatively out there. You just have to react to what's happened."

Only windsurfer Bryony Shaw was unhappy as an 11th and a sixth pushed her down from third overall on the opening day to fifth tonight. "I'm more emotionally affected and that has taken a bit out of me, but I'm not down about today," she said. "My coach and I discussed it and it's about getting your head back up. It's a case of bouncing back."

For Bassadone and Clark, who said: "The message is watch out world, we're coming," the third and fourth made amends for an unexpected disqualification from an opening race in which they were 13th . They were having dinner when they heard that the Slovenian pair, already disqualified, had lodged a protest. "I was shocked," said Bassadone, with remarkable restraint.

Rogers and Glanfield's first and a fourth more than made up for a 19th in their opener and should see them move even higher than the fifth overall they were holding today. At the top of both 470 classes the Australians rule the roost.

Dempsey carded a third and a second also to be fifth overall and, grateful that the windsurfers now race on alternate days, said: "Your back still hurts most days and you're tired constantly, but I am fitter than I have ever been and I think the way I sailed today was the best I have ever sailed." He still has a mountain to climb if he is to beat the series leader, Shahar Zubari of Israel.

Tomorrow sees the return of Ben Ainslie, topping the Finn table, and the Yngling trio of Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson. Races seven and eight could be defining moments in the run to their medal deciders scheduled for Saturday.

The clean-up of the algae invasion has reached military proportions with the official line always being that everything is under control and all will be well. But there is no attempt to be in denial and yesterday Qu Chun, the competition manager, said that an inspection team went out at between 5a.m. and 6a.m. every morning.

An estimate is then made about the number of boats that would be needed to go out with nets large and small to fish the clumps out of the water. The day before, the 'command centre' had used about 300. Yesterday unofficial estimates had that up to 500 and there are another 700 on call.

Scientific research suggested that the problem would ease, rather than worsen, said Mr Qu. "We are finding less algae daily and we will continue to clean up the field of play," he said. Given the size of the hoovering armada back out after racing had finished it's a wonder the algae has any chance at all.