Ben Ainslie secures second-place finishes in opening Olympic sailing races


Three-time gold medallist Ben Ainslie struck a satisfied figure after securing second-place finishes in both of today's opening Olympic sailing races.

The 35-year-old is the undoubted star of Great Britain's sailing team and the bookies' favourite to top the Finn class podium.

Ainslie has previously struggled at the beginning of Olympics, but flourished on the home waters of the south coast this afternoon.

He finished the day with two second places behind Denmark's Jonas Hogh-Christensen, who he joked had the spirit of countryman Paul Elvstrom behind him - a man Ainslie would overtake as the most decorated Olympic sailor ever should he win gold.

"It was a good day," he told Press Association Sport. "They were tough conditions out there, especially on the Nothe Course [in the first race].

"There was very, very shifty winds but it was a good start. It was ok, but there is a long way to go.

"I think Jonas was on a hotline to Paul Elvstrom today.

"He sailed fantastically well so all credit to him and we'll see how things develop for the rest of the week."

Thousands congregated in the Nothe Gardens to watch the racing on what was the first occasion ticketed spectators have been able to watch sailing at the Games.

Home supporters, though, had hearts in their mouth early on as favourite Ainslie rounded the first mark of the opening race outside the top 10, before producing a superb downwind leg to rise up the fleet.

"I needed to show how to do it downwind in the first race as I didn't have such a great first leg," he said.

"I had to get my work rate up downwind and pull through and thankfully I managed to do that.

"It was very, very difficult conditions. When you're racing that close to the shoreline and the wind is unstable it is very, very hard.

"It is very difficult to predict the wind so I didn't quite get it right but I was close enough to the leaders to pull back."

The opening races both finished with the same top three of Croatia's Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic then Ainslie in second and Hogh-Christensen.

The Dane was pleased with his performance but keen to stress this it is only the beginning of the regatta.

"It was a great day, but Ben and Ivan are close behind and we're very early in the regatta," Hogh-Christensen said.

"I need to keep cool, take it one day at a time and focus on tomorrow.

"I got the shifts right, got a good couple of starts and it was a great day. There was great weather and a great crowd as well so it was good fun."

The other men's class to start today was the Star and saw British pair Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson recover from a difficult start to end the day in fifth overall.

The reigning Star gold medallists endured a poor first race in which they ended 11th, but responded superbly to end the day's final race in the top two.

After some confusion over the final result, victory was awarded to Brazil's Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada - much to Simpson's disappointment.

"We thought we were ahead but it sounds like it was unbelievably close or we need to look at it," he said.

"It has changed back and forth apparently so that is a worry in itself so we better check that.

"It's a bit annoying if we didn't beat them but it is a good marker for the rest of the week."

On a poor first race, Simpson added: "We got it wrong, to be honest. We made a big mistake.

"It was very tricky, very unlucky. It is super frustrating and that is a polite way of putting it."


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

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'