Ben Ainslie secures second-place finishes in opening Olympic sailing races
Sunday 29 July 2012
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."
Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments
Arsenal transfer latest: Arsene Wenger set to sign...no one on transfer deadline day as manager heads to Rome to referee charity match
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal offloads fringe players as he looks to the long term
Radamel Falcao transfer latest: Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City linked with blockbuster move
Tottenham to offer Andros Townsend to Southampton in £14m deadline day bid for Jay Rodriguez
Radamel Falcao to Manchester United: Striker hasn't played in Champions League since 2010
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
- 5 Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward