Finn Report - Race Day 1
Report on today's Finn racing from Weymouth
Ben Ainslie said Jonas Hogh-Christensen must have had “a hotline to Paul Elvstrom” after the Danish sailor did his utmost to protect his fellow countryman’s Olympic medal record on day one of the Olympic Regatta at Weymouth and Portland.
Three-time Olympic champion Ainslie got the defence of his Beijing 2008 Finn title off to a cracking start with two second places in today’s racing leaving him second overall.
But the day belonged to 2006 World Champion Hogh-Christensen who dominated proceedings with two bullets placing him at the top of the leaderboard.
If Ainslie, who also won Laser class silver at Atlanta 1996, wins gold at these Games he will become the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, eclipsing the feats of the Great Dane Elvstrom who won four gold medals between 1948 and 1960.
Ainslie said: “Jonas did really well; I think he was on a hotline to Paul Elvstrom today. He had a really good start in both races, played the [wind] shifts really well and he sailed close to perfect so good for him.
“But it was a good start (for me). It was a tough day physically with the free pumping. For me I am reasonably happy for with two second place finishes.
“There are a lot of great sailors competing and Jonas and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (Croatia) had two third places so there is a long way to go before we can start picking out individuals who are going to be at the top so I’ve just got to keep pushing hard. There is a long way to go so we will see how we go tomorrow.”
In race one Ainslie, 35, recovered from 10th place at the first mark to move up through the fleet to finish second.
The six-time World Champion lived up to his fearsome reputation for his downwind prowess by blitzing his way from 10th to third on leg two before losing a bit of ground upwind to once again recover on the next downwind leg and regain third spot.
With the breeze building and shifting across the racecourse, Ben managed to overhaul Croatia’s Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic on the final downwind leg to take second spot behind Hogh-Christensen.
Race two was simply about trying to claw back Hogh-Christensen, who finished sixth at Beijing 2008.
The Dane got off to a cracking start to build a lead of over 100m at one point during the race but as they crossed the line, Ainslie’s downwind speed had once again proved evident, as he took advantage to ride the waves to close the gap by some 40 metres. Nevertheless Hogh-Christensen made it two out of two.
By his own admission, Ben’s opening Olympic days haven’t always gone entirely to plan, so he can be very satisfied with his day’s work with eight series races and a medal race still to come.
“It’s nice (to get a good start early on) and it settles you into the event. If you go out and have a disastrous start, which I seem to have managed to do in the last Olympics, it puts a lot of pressure on you, but having said that you have got to keep pushing hard all the way through. A good start on day one doesn’t guarantee you a good finish you’ve got to keep pushing hard.”
Ainslie also paid tribute to the 4,000 sailing fans gathered on the Nothe.
“There were a couple of times when there were some big cheers from the crowd at the top mark and that was great. It was a real boost because I wasn’t having the greatest of races at the beginning and it really spurred me on!”
Racing in the Finn class is scheduled to resume tomorrow (Monday 30 July) at 2pm on the Weymouth Bay West course.
The Olympic Sailing Regatta runs from Sunday 29 July – Saturday 11 August. The Finn medal race is scheduled for Sunday 5 August (2pm).