War of words as Ben Ainslie and Danish rival clash on the water in Weymouth
The battle on the water turned to a war of words ashore as Britain's Ben Ainslie and the Olympic thorn in his side who is Denmark's Jonas Hogh Christensen traded accusations over an incident that could have cost Ainslie valuable points.
The Finn singlehanders have had explosive exchanges before, but this time Ainslie accused Christensen of ganging up with Pieter-Jan Postma of the Netherlands, whom Ainslie crossed swords with at the world championships in Perth last November.
"He [Jonas] and the Dutch guy basically teamed up to say that I hit [a] mark, which pissed me off because I didn't hit the mark," said Ainslie.
Christensen, who had to recover from a capsize in his opening race of the day as Ainslie notched up his first win of the regatta, said: "From where I was in the race I thought he hit the mark. The Dutch guy thought he hit the mark as well. If he really thinks we ganged up on him then he should protest us for bad sportsmanship... just coming out with that allegation is pretty bad."
Christensen went on: "Nobody gangs up on nobody, and if he thinks that then he is the bad sportsman. And if he was so sure he didn't hit the mark he shouldn't have taken the penalty turns, but he did – so maybe he did hit the mark."
Which Ainslie countered by saying that it was better to take the penalties even if he hadn't hit the mark than leave the matter to an international jury in a protest room.
Even so, he came back to beat Christensen again and, with two of the basic 10 races remaining before the double-points decider, he is just three points behind the Dane and at his most dangerous. At the end of the second race Ainslie jabbed pointedly at his chest as if to say: "I am the boss here."
In fact it was a good day all round for the British team, revelling in the exhilarating racing conditions on Weymouth Bay. Added to Ainslie finally beating Christensen, a win and a second for Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson extended their lead at the top of the Star class to nine points. Two wins for Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes in the 49er set their medal bid back on track, while a second in their opening race for Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell in the 470 dinghy was followed by a win in the next race.
The 49er pair were justifiably upbeat after winning both races, which rocketed them up to second overall, just nine points behind the Australian hot favourites, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, 10th and sixth on the day, and six points ahead of the New Zealand partnership of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who came into the regatta lined up for at least the silver medal.
Said Morrison: "We've had really good boat speed all week and if there was anything slightly different [today] it was that we executed the starts a lot better. It doesn't happen often that you score two wins. We can smile and feel happy until dinner tonight [then] we need to get back into reality, which is that we have eight races left. The time for celebrating is next Wednesday.
"Unfortunately it is about being boring, doing what we do every day, not being too emotional about what is happening. Hopefully we can bore ourselves to a gold medal."
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