Poor wind halts Ainslie's procession

The medal ceremony rehearsal was underway, the glint of the medal was almost visible ashore, but the glory was snatched away by a fickle wind as Ben Ainslie was on track for his third consecutive Olympic gold, his fourth, when adding silver in 1996, and the undisputed title of Britain's most successful Olympic sailor in history.

The Yngling trio of Sarah Webb, Sarah Ayton and Pippa Wilson never even saw the start line of their attempt at consecutive golds for Britain in the Yngling keelboat.

In spectacular fashion, the Qingdao race track, as had been predicted by so many, had failed to deliver on the big occasion. The first ever top 10 shoot-out to decide the medal winners ended not in a Chinese firecracker bang but a whimper of frustration from the thousands, including a good sprinkling of those waving union flags, watching from the harbour wall.

Ainslie had been in the sort of ruthless form that makes him the most feared man in the boat park. He knew the only man who could possibly beat him on points was the American Zach Railey. The Ainslie answer was to go for the knockout.

American race officer Peter Reggio, known as Luigi and one of the world's best, waited for an hour with the postponement flag fluttering, went for a start and aborted, went for another and aborted, went for a third and succeeded.

In all of them, Ainslie hunted Railey down prior to the start and, when they started racing, sat on him unmercifully until the man from Clearwater, Florida was last. There was no way, from there, that the American could ever put six boats between himself and Ainslie and so score few enough points in the double-scoring race to deny Ben the gold. After less than one lap it became academic. There was not enough puff to power the boats against the tide.

Had Ainslie's tactics been too harsh? "I think it was the right strategy for those conditions," said Ainslie unapologetically. Was the American unhappy? "I wasn't upset at what Ben had done," said Railey. "But I didn't want to get involved in a match race with Ben. I just wanted to sail around the course and protect my silver."

Today there is a forecast for a lot more wind as the medal races are re-run. The Ynglings will be off first, with the British trio just one point ahead of the Dutch. That, too, will be a tight head-to-head tussle.

They are followed by the Finns and then joined by the high performance 49er skiffs. Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes will appear in that but not only will they not win the gold that was predicted, they will win no medal at all. They are too far adrift in ninth. 11 August will be writ painfully in their hearts when they scored a 14th and two 15th to wipe out the dream.

In contrast, there is no need for a medal race to decide the gold medal winner in the 470 dinghy, where the Australian pair of Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page cannot be beaten. But they have to turn up tomorrow (Monday) as Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield bid to snatch a second silver from their current fourth place with the Dutch and the French ahead of them.

In the women's division, where the Australians are set up to do the double, Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark have worked out they can still aim for bronze, but it will take a win by them and some disastrous results for those ahead of them for that to happen.

Also in fourth, with four fleet races to go, is Paul Goodison in the Laser. Points for first to fifth are 24, 25, 26, 27, and 28. The Rotherham man, who was fourth in Athens, needs to dig deep.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice