A lot of nerves were settled today after Ben Ainslie finished the day in second overall and Percy and Simpson recovered from a dire first race to feature in a media pleasing photo-finish with their Brazilian rivals.
Day 1 of the 2012 Olympic Sailing events took place in pefect conditions on Weymouth Bay, the sun and 15 to 20 knot breeze providing ideal conditions for racing on the Nothe course where the Finn class, with triple gold medalist Ben Ainlsie defending his title, opened the racing in front of a capacity crowd of paying spectators - a first for the sailing events at an Olympic Games.
Ainslie always knew that the Dane, Jonas Hogh-Christensen, would be one of his main challengers for the Finn gold and Hogh-Christensen got his series off to a great start by winning both races Sunday. Ainslie took second in both and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic of Croatia was third in both, making for a tidy overall results board at the end of day 1. This consistency opened a buffer for the leaders of six points back to fourth placed Jonathan Lobart of France.
Hogh-Christensen led from the start at the pin end while Ainslie came out the middle and tacked inshore. Hogh-Christensen led a group out to sea and had a comfortable lead at the windward mark. At the leeward gate Ainlie recovered with his downwind speed to round third behind Hogh-Christensen and the Austrian Florian Raudschl. At the final windward rounding Ainsle was third behind the Croation Ivan Gaspic. Again Ainslie was able to pump his way into second by the finish behind Hogh-Christensen with Gaspic third.
In race 2, racing on the West course it was again Hogh-Christensen who led with Ainslie second and these two dominated leaving the rest to fight for third which went to Gaspic at the line.
So a good start for the three leaders. Ainslie started with a tenth at the last Games and in Athens he started with a ninth and a disqualification, so this is something of a dream start for him. But Hogh-Christensen has set the bar high with two wins. Another slow starter, he had a 16th in his first race at both Beijing and Athens. Already looking off the pace was Zach Railey of the USA, he took silver in 2008 but a 10th and 15th place him 13th overall after day 1.
In the Star event Percy and Simpson finished 11th after an early tack to port from the paying offshore side dumped them, while the French pair Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot continued and led a small group who all benefited. With Rohart and Ponsot finishing first ahead of the Irish pair, Peter O’Leary and David Burrows and the Greek pair Emilios Papathanasiou and Adonis Tsotras taking third.
Things improved for the British pair in race 2 which culminated in a downwind finish with Percy and Simpson hunting down Scheidt and Prada to cross the line neck and neck with the decision going to the Brazilian pair.
This result put Scheidt and Prada in the number one spot overall three points clear of O’Leary and Burrows with Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki of Poland third. The leading two crews have a four point lead over the Polish pair who are on equal points with Eivind Melleby and Petter Pedersen of Norway. Percy and Simpson are fifth on 13 points.
Again this is something of a good start for the Team GB pair. In Beijing they opened with a 7th and 13th and had to fight their way back. The difference here is that Scheidt and Prada have started well and will be difficult to dislodge, but expect to see race wins spread throughout the fleet in this high quality field.
Finn - 2012 Olympic Games after 2 races (24 entries)
1st Hoegh-Christensen DEN 1 1 - 2 pts
2nd Ainslie GBR 2 2 - 4 pts
3rd Kljakovic CRO 3 3 - 6 pts
4th Lobert FRA 9 4 - 13 pts
5th Zbogar SLO 8 6 - 14 pts
6th Postma NED 5 10 - 15 pts
7th Slater NZL 7 11 - 18 pts
8th Skornyakov RUS 13 8 - 21 pts
9th Birgmark SWE 17 5 - 22 pts
10th Karpak EST 14 9 - 23 pts
Star - 2012 Olympic Games after 2 races (16 entries)
1st Scheidt BRA 4 1 - 5 pts
2nd O’Leary IRL 2 6 - 8 pts
3rd Kusznieriwicz POL 9 3 - 12 pts
4th Melleby NOR 7 5 - 12
5th Percy GBR 11 2 - 13 pts
6th Loof SWE 10 4 - 14 pts
7th Stanjek GER 5 9 - 14 pts
8th Rohart FRA 1 13 - 14 pts
9th Papathanasiou GRE 3 16 - 19 pts
10th Marazzi SUI 13 7 - 20 pts
29 July 2012 17:48