Sailing: Overwhelming Ainslie

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The Independent Online
There is no conspiracy to prevent Ben Ainslie from winning, at 19, the European championship in the Laser single hander, but Britain's brightest young star could be forgiven for feeling aggrieved when he was robbed of another fine victory yesterday.

He had not just beaten the rest of Europe, he had blitzed them in exactly the sort of conditions which will prevail in the Savannah Olympics.

He started the last leg of race seven with a lead of 90 seconds over his nearest rival, Norway's Elvind Melleby, who was so frustrated at the outcome that he pulled out of racing altogether. Then a bank of fog swept down the bay and when Ainslie was 400 yards from the finish, which he found with unerring accuracy despite not having a compass, the race officer decided to abandon the contest.

At close, he had scored four wins, a second, third, fourth and sixth from eight starts - the sixth came after starting at the wrong end of the line in the seventh race rerun. He fought his way back from 27th and did even better in the last race to recover from a start-line penalty and finish third. It means he has to score no worse than 25th in either of today's scheduled final two races to be sure of the title.

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