Sailing : Ainslie steps up

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The Independent Online
Sailing

STUART ALEXANDER

reports from Weymouth

British yachting ended the Olympic trial here on the crest of a wave as nine of the 10 places were decided, including the selection of 18- year old Ben Ainslie in the Laser class. Ainslie will be the youngest- ever person to represent the Great Britain at the Olympics in sailing.

Ainslie won the gold medal at the World Youth Championships in July and will be a strong contender at the senior level. "He is mature enough to do the job," Rod Carr, the team manager, said. Ainslie said it had still to sink in. "Everyone was really trying to do their best, to get things perfect, and that made it a very hard event," he said.

Carr was joined by Mike McIntyre, the Olympic steering group chairman, in saying that the hard work begins now. A revamped and early selection process has seen the favourites win through and able to receive more funding.

John Merricks and Ian Walker trounced the opposition in the men's 470 dinghy; Bethan Raggatt and Sue Carr resolved earlier inconsistencies in the women's 470; and Shirley Robertson was out on her own in the Europe.

In the Tornado, catamaran, Finn and women's boards there was no gripe about the clear winners. Andy Beadsworth was strong from start to finish and beat Eddie Warden Owen 4-0 in the Soling match race final, and Howard Plumb won the boards place from Barrie Edgington in another strong class.

BRUT OLYMPIC TRIAL (Weymouth): Winners to represent Great Britain in Savannah: Soling: Andy Beadsworth, Adrian Stead, Barry Parkin. Tornado: David Williams, Ian Rhodes. 470 men: John Merricks, Ian Walker. 470 women: Bethan Raggatt, Sue Carr. Finn: Richard Stenhouse. Laser: Ben Ainslie. Europe: Shirley Robertson. Mistral men: Howard Plumb. Mistral women: Penny Way.

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