Spectacular photos of Ben Ainslie’s AC45 training on the eve of the final America’s Cup World Series event, held in a spectacular city, Naples, Italy:
Posted on 16 April 2013 by Valencia Sailing
Spectacular photos of Ben Ainslie’s AC45 training on the eve of the final America’s Cup World Series event, held in a spectacular city, Naples, Italy:
Posted on 09 April 2013 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: JP Morgan BAR] Naples marks the final event of the 2012-13 America’s Cup World Series season. With two events under their belt J.P. Morgan BAR sit in fourth place overall and will look to improve on their second place result from the last event in October 2012.
J.P. Morgan BAR are 49 points from the current season leader ORACLE TEAM USA (Spithill), with Tom Slingsby taking on helming duties for the team at this event. It might seem like a big points gap, but with 40 points on offer for first place during the Super Sunday final race, one small mistake can mean a big difference on the leaderboard. The existing crew from the last event in San Francisco will remain, with one change for Naples, bowman Jan Dekker (RSA) will replace Simeon Tienpont (NED) who will remain in San Francisco to work on the ORACLE TEAM USA AC72 programme.
Racing will take place right by the shore giving the spectators a chance to see these wing sailed catamarans up close as nine teams battle it out for overall victory in Naples. The AC45 is one of the most technologically advanced sailing boats in the world, the fixed wing provides incredible acceleration and speed but they are not an easy ride for the crew onboard.
Simon Daubney, four time winner of the America’s Cup, J.P.Morgan BAR headsail trimmer talks through the realities of racing onboard an AC45, or the slave ship as he refers to it: “You’re hiking out the whole time, and constantly re-adjusting the wing and sails in order to go as fast as possible. For the front three guys these boats are like little slave ships really, they keep everyone pretty busy”.
Practice racing will start on Monday 15th with the Championship Racing starting on April 18th, during the four days of racing the nine teams will compete across both Match and Fleet Racing disciplines. The overall titles for both the Naples event and for the 2012-13 America’s Cup World Series will be decided at this event.
For skipper Ben Ainslie, Naples is an opportunity for the team to secure the teams first win, “First and foremost we’re really looking forward to getting racing again, it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of conditions we will have in Naples. We’ve been doing some practice sailing in San Francisco, which is predominantly windy, and we might face some lighter conditions in Naples and that means we’ll have to adapt quickly.
We have a crew change with Jan (Dekker) joining us a bowman for this event, I think a lot of teams will have similar changes onboard as they manage the work that continues on the AC72 programmes. The event was a great success last time and everything is very close to the shore so the public will really feel a part of the racing. As a team we made real progress during our last event in 2012, so we really want to build on our performance. This is our last opportunity to show what we are capable of this season so we will be working very hard to achieve an overall podium position at the end of it”.
J.P.Morgan BAR crew list Naples
Ben Ainslie (GBR) – Helm
Simon Daubney (NZL) – Headsail trimmer
Matthew Mitchell (NZL) – Floater
Kyle Langford (AUS) – Wing Trimmer
Jan Dekker (RSA)- Bowman
Posted on 27 November 2012 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Ben Ainslie] Ben Ainslie today announced his retirement from Olympic sailing. At London 2012 Ainslie cemented his place in sporting history by securing his fourth consecutive gold medal, it was the culmination of an Olympic career spanning sixteen years. The final gold medal also entered Ainslie into the history books making the most successful Olympic sailor of all time.
For Ainslie the decision was not an easy one, “When I look back there are so many special memories; from that first medal in Atlanta 16 years ago to carrying the flag at the closing ceremony in London 2012. London was an incredibly special Olympics, competing on home waters and in front of a home crowd, I don’t think anything will be able to top that experience. But you have to move forwards and it is time to move onto the next challenge in my career.”
Ainslie has taken the bold move to setup a team to challenge for the 35th America’s Cup. This announcement marks the start of a new chapter in his career as he now shifts his focus to winning the America’s Cup and bringing the oldest trophy in sport back to Britain. Conceived by the British in 1851, the America’s Cup is the only international sporting trophy Great Britain has never won.
The team has taken the first steps on this road with J.P.Morgan who is title sponsor to the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) AC45 team, who are competing in the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) 2012-13. The team has shown great promise finishing second at the last ACWS event in October.
“The America’s Cup has always been a goal for me. With the new format of the America’s Cup World Series and the increased commericalistaion of the event, I feel confident that we can continue to build towards creating a commercially viable team, with the ultimate goal of challenging for the 35th America’s Cup.”
“Stepping away from the Olympics was not an easy decision to make and I wanted to take some time after London to think about the future and what the next challenge would be. I’ve had an amazing Olympic sailing career and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the countless number of people who have been involved in my sailing career to date. Their support enabled me to achieve my dreams and I could not have done it without them.”
John Derbyshire, Royal Yachting Association Performance Director, commented:
“Ben has always made it clear that his two career goals have been to win Olympic gold, and to win the America’s Cup. With four Olympic golds and a silver across five Games, and now the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, he has nothing left to prove in Olympic terms and there can be no question that he’s more than achieved his first goal. It’s therefore entirely understandable that he should now want to turn his attentions to the second, and hopefully lead a British team to win the oldest trophy in sport for the very first time. ”
“The word ‘legend’ is often over-used in sport, but Ben really is one – a determined yet unassuming, modest, often under-recognised legend in this nation’s sporting history. He has been a talismanic figure in the RYA’s Olympic programme for over 16 years, through his successes inspiring new waves of sailors to get involved in the sport, and passing on his tireless work ethic and campaign skills to other young talents who will look to follow in his footsteps and take on the challenge of keeping GBR a leading light in Olympic sailing in the years to come.”
The next ten months will see Ainslie train and compete with the America’s Cup defenders ORACLE Team USA in San Francisco, where he will gain invaluable experience helming one of two AC72s in the build up to the 34th America’s Cup in September 2013.
Posted on 03 October 2012 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Ben Ainslie] J.P. Morgan BAR are heading into event two here in San Francisco, the last event was certainly a whirlwind, we were limited in our training time on the water and I was coming into the event straight off the back of the Olympics. This time we have a base here in San Francisco and it’s starting to feel a little like home. We have had an opportunity to get some decent training time in on the water and we’ve been lucky enough to train alongside the ORACLE TEAM USA guys as well as some of the other teams when they arrived here.
It’s been great to train with Jimmy and Russell we have definitely learnt a huge amount, we still have a lot of learn, but I certainly hope that we can have better form than last time and I feel that we are definitely capable of raising our game. It was pretty difficult getting focused and into the flow of things last time, I feel much more focused and prepared and the whole team is starting to really come together.
The big interest is of course on Sunday or ‘Super Sunday’ as it’s more commonly known around here. The opportunity is certainly there for the taking, you have to keep yourself in the hunt going into that race if you have a good race there then the results can be great.
San Francisco itself it buzzing, we are in the middle of a host of events, from Fleet Week to Oracle World, there is a great atmosphere helped somewhat by the balmy indian summer weather we are experiencing, the chilly winds have been replaced with sunshine and the temperature is rising. It would be great if the expected thousands of spectators turn out, we had a bit of an experience of that at the Olympics at home, it’s good for sailing, there is a lot of interest and it’s great for the sport. There is so much interest in sailing here in San Francisco and the America’s Cup. America is so vast things can easily get lost, especially with al the football, basketball and baseball going on, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in here in San Francisco so it is great to be a part of that.
In terms of the racing, we have a difference course, it has moved a little further east towards Alcatraz, so that will require a certain change to strategy as we deal with some potentially slightly lighter winds this week. It’s a different challenge and there are some different players in the game at this event, so it should make for some fun racing. I think the main thing I have learnt over the last few weeks is the importance of the nuances, the techniques. As the racing is so close you have to have really good technique on the boat, just basic things like trim,ing the wing on my own, learning the best technique for doing that. If you can get the boat handling around the course slick then that makes a huge difference to the results. It’s still early days but I think we have stepped up another level from last time. Frustratingly I seemed to have picked up a virus this week, so I’m hoping that a day’s rest and a good nights sleep will help ahead of racing tomorrow.
Thanks for the support
Posted on 05 August 2012 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: ISAF] The medal is Ainslie’s fifth medal in a row and his fourth consecutive gold. He has eclipsed Paul Elvstrom (DEN) whose four gold medals from 1948-1960 had put him ahead of Ainslie before London 2012.
In front of a home crowd Ainslie sailed his way to gold finishing in ninth place, one place ahead of Elvstrom’s compatriot Hogh-Christensen who had to settle for silver. Both sailors ended on 46 points with Ainslie taking the gold on a higher finishing position in the Medal Race. On becoming the most successful Olympic sailor Ainslie said, “I don’t think that will ever settle in. It’s an amazing thing and you talk about Paul Elvstrom and what he did all those years ago really revolutionised sailing, it was an amazing feat.”
It was a winner take all scenario Pieter Jan Postma (NED) came close to spoiling the party and taking gold, but he hit the back of Dan Slater (NZL) before the finish and did a penalty turn which saw him slip out of the medals entirely, meaning race winner Jonathan Lobert (FRA) took the bronze.
Ainslie added, “Sometimes it comes down to the crunch and you have to make it count. I’ve been really lucky in my career and when it comes to that I’ve done it.
“It’s been incredibly hard with a huge amount of pressure to perform in a home game. It’s been really tough and the hardest weeks in my life. You just have to deal with that, when you go racing it disappears and you get on with the job.”
The Dane had led the regatta from day one after double bullets but Ainslie reeled him. On the final race the Dane said, “I did what I wanted to do. I knew he would come after me at the start and I kept him at bay round the committee boat and got myself in a perfect position. Got the start, squeezed him off and couldn’t be much better. There’s no bad excuses, I did what I wanted to and it wasn’t enough today.”
Hogh Christensen was visibly disappointed immediately after the race and on shore, he added, “There’s no doubt I’m quite disappointed. I felt I had it in me to win this regatta. Looking back at this week I can definitely find a couple of points where I could have made my lead a bit bigger, but that’s sailing. You’ve got to fight for a week. You make mistakes and whoever makes the least mistakes ends up winning and I made one too many.”
In a fantastic week of Finn racing it was fitting that a Dane separated Ainslie and his place in the history books.
Posted on 03 August 2012 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Finn Class] Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) has led the Finn class at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition from the very first mark. He will go into the medal race on Sunday with a two point lead over defending Olympic champion Ben Ainslie (GBR). After the best showing on Friday, Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) moves up to the bronze medal position. The gold medal will come from one of these three.
In practice this means that whoever out of Høgh-Christensen and Ainslie finish ahead of the other wins the gold medal providing they are in the top seven boats. Postma can mathematically win gold but needs to put at least six boats between himself and both the others. Realistically that is unlikely to happen, so the gold is really down to the Dane and the Brit.
With tempers and egos bubbling over, the Finn fleet set out for the final opening series day. Høgh-Christensen (DEN) held a scant three point lead over defending Olympic champion Ainslie. After a difference of opinion between them yesterday everyone expected fireworks on the water, but it didn’t quite turn out that way.
Of the two of them, the Dane made the best of the start of race nine and, with the fleet heading to the left yet again, the pin end was bunched up. Høgh-Christensen did well on the left, forcing Ainslie to tack off, with Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) doing well on the right. As they approached the top mark Ainslie had trouble finding a clean lane and trailed round in ninth. Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) led round from Postma, Brendan Casey (AUS) and then Høgh-Christensen.
By the gate, Postma had worked out a 50 metre lead and he comfortably extended away to win his first race of the series. Behind him there was a tense battle with bronze medal positioned Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) making a huge gain on the downwind to move from 19th to fifth at the gate. Jonathan Lobert (FRA) also gained to second with Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) close behind in third.
On the final beat Postma pulled further away while Zbogar found his way into second. Nothing much else changed in the closing stages except Kljakovic Gaspic moved into fourth from Christensen while Ainslie took three places on the final downwind to finish one place behind the Dane.
The net result of this was the Høgh-Christensen had extended his lead by one crucial point on Ainslie. Kljakovic Gaspic was still in the bronze medal position but the points were now really tight. The last opening series race was going to be crucial for all of them. There was also the not so small matter of making the cut for the medal race and some sailors were looking rather precarious.
For the final opening series race Postma and Ainslie started well by the pin while Høgh-Christensen was forced to tack away. Postma went furthest left and came back just above Ainslie, while Høgh-Christensen was struggling out to the right. As they approached the top mark it was clear that the left was still paying and Postma rounded first from Ainslie, Greg Douglas (CAN), Mitakis, Rafa Trujillo (ESP), and Høgh-Christensen.
While Ainslie soon passed Postma and just sailed away from the fleet, Høgh-Christensen put on a surge to pass four boats and round the gate in second, but nearly a minute behind Ainslie. On the second beat, Ainslie slowed up for a while and looked to be waiting for the Dane. He would have liked to have one boat between then to make life easier in the medal race. But Postma found a way past and Ainslie carried on. Ainslie rounded the top mark with a 90 metre lead and led down to the finish.
Postma was not about to make the same mistake twice and held onto his second place, while Trujillo briefly threatened Høgh-Christensen on the final run. The single point was just as important to Postma as it was to Høgh-Christensen.
At the finish Ainslie led by a considerable margin while Postma held on to second. Høgh-Christensen had to settle for third with Trujillo fourth. Casey sailed his best race of the series with a fifth but it was too late to make the medal race. However Trujillo’s fourth place was enough to make the cut, relegating Deniss Karpak to 11th.
Trujillo must be the unluckiest person in Weymouth. Over the course of the week he has suffered numerous random gear failings. His mainsheet, halyard, rudder and kicking strap have all failed at key moments causing him to lose all hope of a second medal to add to the silver won in 2004 in Athens. “Making the medal race is not really any consolation for all that has happened this week after all the work we have done in the past years. But three top tens in three consecutive Games is not a bad result. We have checked everything 100 times before the Games. I have never lost a rudder upwind before.”
“But if it’s not meant to be then it’s not meant to be. I would say that this is the best venue we have ever had for an Olympic Games. Also the level of the class is higher than ever. And the medal race is going to be a really interesting. There will be a battle for the gold, for the bronze and for seventh as no one will want to be the last. I will try my hardest and try to end the week on a high point, despite what has happened to me.”
Lobert said, “I think a lot can happen in the medal race. It’s pretty tight actually just five points, so I can do it. And the other good point is that all the guys in the medal race can win it. So everybody will try to play their games. I think I have an advantage on the short course. Usually I am pretty good in the medal race. I kind of like them. It’s very intense and short, so well see. I think Ben will try to put the pressure on Jonas but he has to take care as well with PJ. So Ben has to put Jonas behind him but he also has to do a good race. That’s why it’s pretty open I think. It’s going to be very exciting.”
“I have had a good week so tomorrow I will relax, enjoy the Games and watch the other competitions so that I am in good shape for Sunday.”
After closing the gap to the leader to just two points, Ainslie said, “I was pretty frustrated yesterday, but when you get out there you have to put it behind you and sail smart. It’s taken me all week to find the turbo button and get out in front. It’s good to get some more points up and even things up. The overall points were very close so it was important for me that the Dutch sailor overtook the Dane, and finally he got past. The last two days have been huge, to draw back those points.”
Høgh-Christensen added, “It was a tough day today but I thought I did quite well. I didn’t have the best downwind in the first race but I managed a to get a fifth. I had a good pin end start and after a couple of minutes I could tack up and tack on Ben and send him out the right when he wanted to go left. I managed to pack Ben down the fleet into the teens. But we rounded the top mark in no pressure and they rounded in lots of pressure right behind us and he caught up to finish sixth.”
“In the second race I didn’t get a great start but managed to fight my way back to second, but unfortunately I lost PJ on the second beat. But that’s what happens. PJ is sailing fast.”
On the tactical move by Ainslie on the final beat. “Ben stopped for a bit but didn’t do anything. I think he was thinking about doing something but it was probably too big a risk for him to try and put boats in between us. It was too close. He would have to had come so close that when we rounded the windward mark I would have an opportunity to pass him down the run. So I think he bailed on his plan. He got a little lucky that PJ got in front of me so now it’s who beats who in the medal race.”
So, into the medal race on Sunday Høgh-Christensen will lead Ainslie by two points while Ainslie leads Postma by 14 points. Crucially, they have a 21 point and 19 point lead over Lobert and Kljakovic Gaspic, which means they are all but assured a medal, just the colour needs to be decided.
Postma meanwhile has a five point lead over Lobert and Kljakovic Gaspic with Zbogar just two points behind. The medals will all come from these six sailors.
The medal race will be sailed in front of the Nothe spectator area on Sunday at 14.00.
Posted on 02 August 2012 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Finn Class] Ben Ainslie (GBR) returned to winning ways on the fourth day for Finns at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition in Weymouth with a first and a third to narrow the gap on regatta leader Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) to just three points. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) moved up to third. The second race of the day was won by Rafa Trujillo (ESP).
It was a big day out on Weymouth Bay South course with big winds, big waves and bigger stakes. For Ainslie it was crucial that he started to narrow the points gap and he did just that. Today was the day that he had to make his move on Høgh-Christensen before it was too late. The Brit was fast running out of races to reverse the points score and he came out looking more confident and dominant that at any time this week.
He owned the start of race seven, locking into the dangerous pin end position early and controlling it with perfection until the gun. The Dane was just to windward and just a bit back from the line, but his problem was the Polish boat that was ahead and on his wind. Piotr Kula (POL) was OCS, but he damaged Høgh-Christensen’s start enough so that he had to tack to get clear air.
Ainslie controlled the left along with Rafa Trujillo (ESP) and Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) and they rounded the first mark in this order with Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) in fourth and then Høgh-Christensen.
With big wind and big waves the reach to the wing was a spray filled sleigh ride. The Dane slid into fourth, and then after rounding the mark dived low to get some separation from the leading bunch. Then disaster struck as he capsized on a big wave. He was up and sailing again in 30 seconds but looked clearly rattled as he rejoined the race in 15th.
At the front Ainslie and Postma were battling for supremacy downwind in the big conditions, rounding opposite gates. Postma briefly got in front of Ainslie at the next top mark but Ainslie soon passed him downwind to extend and win his first race of the week by some 20 seconds from Postma. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) crossed in third with Tapio Nirkko (FIN) in fourth. Third overall Jonathan Lobert (FRA) was fifth.
Høgh-Christensen was back up to sixth at the top mark but dropped two on the downwind to cross in eighth. Early performer Trujillo had gear problems downwind and dropped to 15th at the finish.
The British breathed a collective sign of relief. Ainslie had turned the corner and put a bullet on the scoreboard. More importantly for Ainslie, Høgh-Christensen now had to count his seventh from Monday so the points gap was down to just four.
Onto race eight and Høgh-Christensen was back on the offensive, winning the favoured pin end of the line, though he had Trujillo just to windward off him. Ainslie started slightly further up the line but was soon forced to tack off to find a lane. The fleet again favoured the left side with Ainslie heading furthest left when the leaders crossed back.
Round the top mark Trujillo led from Høgh-Christensen, Postma, Nirkko and Ainslie. The Brit went low on the reach and moved up to fourth and then also overtook Postma on the run. At the gate the top four boats rounded the same mark within 10 seconds of each other with a nice gap on the fleet.
Soon after the rounding Ainslie did a penalty turn and lost ground. Høgh-Christensen took a hitch to the right and tacked on Ainslie’s wind. Again the fleet went all the way to the port layline. Trujillo held onto his lead to round ahead with Høgh-Christensen and Postma holding a small lead over Ainslie.
The final downwind to the finish was a thrilling battle. Høgh-Christensen immediately made inroads into Trujillo’s lead while Ainslie tried to find a route past Postma so he could attack the Dane. But it was Postma who made the first move going wide and then crossing on front of Høgh-Christensen and Ainslie.
Round the last mark it was Trujillo and Postma with Ainslie just sliding round the mark ahead of Høgh-Christensen. Nothing else changed by the finish with the 2004 Silver medalist Trujillo winning the race from Postma. Ainslie had taken around 70 metres about off regatta leader Høgh-Christensen on the run to inflict his second victory over him in one day and further close the points gap.
After a third and seventh today Kljakovic Gaspic has moved up to thr bronze medal position. “It was hard day, windy but a simple race, keeping left was important. For me wasn’t easy but I pulled hard for such a result, and in the end I am happy. Tomorrow it will be all about keeping the game simple, sailing fast and pushing hard.”
Lobert, now down one place in fourth, said, “It was a rough day. There was a lot of tension this morning. I was quite nervous. I was trying to manage it and in the first race I succeeded a little bit because I had some good downwinds and managed to finish fifth. In the second I had a terrible start and then it was just too hard to come back. So not so good a day for me. The wind was really up and down today, but the left side was still generally favoured. There is still everything to do. With two more races a lot can happen so we’ll keep on pushing and we’ll see tomorrow and I hope to be a bit more relaxed.”
Postma had his best day yet with two second places. “The wind was quite up and down. Sometimes 10-12 knots sometimes up to 18 knots. Especially on the downwinds you had to really look. Sometimes some people would catch a gust and 50 metres ahead the boats wouldn’t have it. It was really tricky.”
“In the first race I had a good start, sailed to the left side and it was a steady race. I had a fight with Ben. I passed him on the second upwind and he passed me on the last run on a gust. In the second race I had a bad start but on the upwind I caught a nice gust when I was more to the left and I caught up a lot. Then I caught up to second on the reach and had a good downwind.”
“The last downwind was good. In the last part I didn’t make the right plan to pass Rafa. At first I went down and then I went up but missed one wave. But I passed Jonas very nicely.”
“Tomorrow I want to do better than today. I haven’t showed everything I have yet. I have the feeling so I really want to push tomorrow.” Nervous? “I don’t feel nervous now, but tomorrow I might feel a bit nervous and I think that’s fine.”
Dan Slater is still in with a chance at a medal, sitting in eighth place. “It was not a very good day for me today. I had an all right first one but not a very good second one. It was just frustrating. We are sailing in three knots of current and a washing machine of waves so it’s tough. It’s a one way track. But I’m still alive.”
“They’ve done a fantastic job here. The facilities on shore and everything is just great. And the starts and race management have been fantastic. It’s just a shame we are sailing so far away, several miles out on a one way track. Whatever order you start off from the pin is pretty well the order we have rounded the top mark in. PJ had a great day today and I just need a day like that tomorrow to get myself back into contention. I can definitely do it. My pace is pretty good. If it’s a one way track you just have to fight for the pin and you actually have take a few risks in my position.”
A fourth and a fifth leaves Nirkko in seventh place just 14 points off the medals. “In the first race I didn’t get a very good start so I had to tack away behind the whole fleet, so I was on the wrong side and struggled on the first upwind. After that I eased the clutch and just let it go. The reach and the first downwind were good. Nothing much happened on the second upwind but the second downwind was excellent. I think I got better pressure and was a bit more on the inside inside.” Nirkko went from 11th to fourth on the run, after rounding the top mark 21st.
“In the second race I stared second boat from the pin. Jonas has trouble getting past the pin and I got slowed by it and then Rafa came rolling over both of us. But then I just eased the travelled and footed under them and banged the left corner and came back with good speed and rounded fifth and managed to keep that.”
“Tomorrow it’s quite tight. I will try to close the gap to third. It looks like Jonas and Ben are gone but I believe there are still a couple of guys that could have a difficult day tomorrow, but I need to sail a good day. After tomorrow I want to be within reach of the bronze medal and I think it’s possible.”
Høgh-Christensen’s lead has dropped from 10 points to just three points but he remains optimistic. “I got a good start but unfortunately the Polish guy started on top of me and he was over the line and that ruined my start. I wanted to go left and I had a good lane but I had to tack off because of the Polish and that ruined the first beat for me. I got up to fifth at the top mark and caught up with the front guys on the reach and then in one moment of not being on top of the boat, I flipped to windward. It was one of the expensive ones. Then there was a lot of catching up. I really pushed hard and caught up a lot so happy to get back to eighth.”
“In the second race I did what I wanted, and got the start I wanted at the right end and had a good lane. I didn’t sail a good second run and lost PJ and Ben, which wasn’t very good. It was down to speed and lack of pressure. Ben sat on me quite a lot so there were times when I didn’t have much pressure. Then I had two bad waves.”
“Tomorrow I need to get two good races in, and do what we’ve done for the past four days. I think I’ve sailed well and done what I’ve wanted to do. I was a bit unlucky today.”
Was it nerves today? “I don’t think I was more nervous this morning that any other day. But you’re always a bit nervous at the Olympics. We have a very detailed plan from when we wake up to when we go to bed and we’ve been following that plan and it seems to work and it takes a lot of the pressure off.”
There is one more day of the opening series left before Sunday’s double points non-discardable medal race. Today was proof, if we needed it, that it will be a fight all the way to the finish.
Ainslie was more aggressive today, appeared to be faster upwind, made fewer mistakes and was blisteringly fast downwind. He seems to have overcome the lacklustre performance of the first three days and refocussed on the job in hand. Høgh-Christensen by contrast made several mistakes and the capsize in race seven may hang over him in the days that remain. Two more opening series races remain and today’s change in fortunes has set up a thrilling match between these two amazing sailors. We can’t wait.
Races nine and ten are scheduled for 12.00 Friday, on Weymouth Bay South course.
Posted on 31 July 2012 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Finn Class] Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) has again extended on the Finn fleet with a first and second on day three at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. Ben Ainslie (GBR) moves up to second after a better day, but has still be beat the Great Dane after six races. Jonathan Lobert (FRA) drops one place to third. The second race of the day was won by Deniss Karpak (EST).
Tuesday was crunch day for the Finns. Going into the half way stage of the regatta, Ben Ainslie (GBR) needed to make some points back before the lay day on Wednesday, while regatta leader Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) was looking to consolidate his points lead and not do anything silly.
Race five was dominated by the Høgh-Christensen from start to finish. Starting in the pack, but away from the pin-end boat he hit yesterday he soon pulled ahead of the fleet and with Postma suffering gear failure on the far left, the Dane steered a confident course up the favoured left side of the course to round the top mark with a small lead over Rafa Trujillo (ESP), Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Zach Railey (USA), while several boats overstood in the strong tide. Ainslie had started in the middle and was soon in difficulty having to tack away to clear his air.
After a screaming reach towards the wing mark as the wind piped up, there was a fascinating dual between the leading bunch on the run, though Høgh-Christensen was starting to pull away from the fleet. Railey, the 2008 Silver medalist has not had a great regatta so far so was also looking for improvements today. He had moved up to second at the gate, sailing past the normally faster Ainslie. Ainslie rounded behind and had to tack away to find a lane further to the right. Høgh-Christensen seemed confident on the left and held his course before coming back with a nice lead into the second top mark.
The wind faded on the final offwind legs but Høgh-Christensen extended his lead, while Railey maintained second from Trujillo. Nirkko and Ainslie passed Trujillo and Ainslie looked to be closing on Nirkko but ran out of track. At the finish it was Høgh-Christensen, Railey, Nirkko and Ainslie, with Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) staging an amazing recovery from 19th at the first mark to cross fifth.
Ainslie was now firmly on the backfoot and needed something special in race six. He started well, winning the pin after Postma returned and controlled the lane to the favoured left side of the course and looked to be coming into the top mark well placed. Meanwhile Høgh-Christensen was forced to tack off to find clear air and trailed on the right. However many boats overstood the top mark and first round was Trujillo from Ioannis Mitakis (GRE), Nirkko and Høgh-Christensen. Ainslie rounded in seventh.
Trujillo led down the run with Deniss Karpak (EST) moving up to second from Nirkko and Ainslie, but by the gate Karpak had made big gains to round in first from Nirkko, Ainslie and Høgh-Christensen. The Dane was forced to tack away again after he had been passed by Ainslie for the first time this week. However it was all change on the final upwind with Høgh-Christensen splitting from the fleet and making places all the way up to second to round behind Karpak. Trujillo rounded third from Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) while Ainslie slipped to fifth.
Karpak extended down the run to lead into the finish and win by nearly a minute. Høgh-Christensen rounded in second but Ainslie had caught up for a thrilling spray filled chase to the line, but the Dane held on for second with Ainslie third, Trujillo fourth and Zbogar fifth.
Despite dropping one place to third, Lobert said, “I am pretty happy so far. Third overall after three days means I am still in the game. We still have four races to go and so I will take it day by day, race by race like I have done since the beginning. And I always try my hardest to catch up the most boats I can when I am behind. Today I was 15th and 17th at the first mark which is not so good.” Lobert recovered to place 6th and 7th today.
“The racing is very tight. The wind today was a bit strange, very up and down and sometimes there was some oil on the water. On the first upwinds I didn’t know exactly what to do. I was just looking around and missed most of the shifts. Then slowly, slowly I came back during the race and so I am pretty happy with that.”
“I want to improve my first upwind. If I can be top six round the first mark I have good chance to win the race, like I almost did yesterday. I maybe have to take more risks on the start line. In the first race today the Greek was just above me and he was OCS. I thought we were pretty high but I held back. But I also need to improve my tactics. I need to have a better plan for the first upwind, as most of the time I don’t have a plan and not sure what to do. I just try for the start and then react to where I am, which is not so good.”
Postma described his unfortunate gear failure. “The wind was left and you had to be left and win the pin end. I was going a bit low, going for speed and I wanted to tighten the outhaul a bit more so I pulled it with some force and broke it. I took down the sail, fixed it but then the fleet was gone.”
“I was calm at the time. These things happen. Then I felt a bit disappointed, then a bit angry. Now I just feel focussed. We have a rest day to gain all the energy back and am looking forward to getting on with the racing.”
The 2008 Silver medalist Railey had his best day so far with a 2, 8 to rise to 12th overall. He said, “Today was better. I did nothing different but just had the shifts go the way I thought. It been a hard to get the wind correct but I am still fighting hard. I just need to have good races. I am in quite a hole from the first few races but I will not quit. Looking forward to a day off watch some other races on TV and recover my legs.”
Høgh-Christensen said, “In both races I wanted to go left. So starting close to the pin was the plan but with a bit less risk. Both starts were good, but I thought I was over in the second race and went back. The reason being that I was on line with PJ and he went back. Apparently non of us were over. I came back fast and managed to hit some good shifts to get back to fourth. Then I gained a couple more and I am super content with that. Another good day.”
“You have got to take your breaks when you can. I am an old man in the fleet and I definitely need a rest, a big steak and ready up for Thursday.”
Ainslie commented on his performance, “It’s tough. Sometimes these things work out, but unfortunately for me, this week it hasn’t. I was really frustrated yesterday but it has been better today.”
“He [Høgh-Christensen] is sailing really well. He is a good sailor and a big guy. He is having the regatta of his life. He likes upwind and for whatever reason he is nailing it every time. If I keep pushing hard he might slip up. It’s a difficult place to sail here, but he keeps nailing it. He is sailing well and at some point the tables have to turn. He’s on fire.”
The Finns now have a rest day – and a day to think about how they will approach the final four opening series races on Thursday and Friday. While one man will be trying to relax and keep his head clear, another will be evaluating what has gone so wrong. Ainslie may be in the silver medal position but he has openly admitted anything but gold would be a disaster. And after six races he sits ten points behind the Dane with a little bomb on his scorecard waiting to be ignited if he has another bad day.
Høgh-Christensen is producing the type of performance that everyone expected Ainslie to produce. Some great race wins, all round speed dominance and some incredible comebacks.
What does Ainslie now have to do to turn this around? And does he know the answer himself? How do you respond to someone sailing the way Høgh-Christensen has done? This is an unsual situation for Ainslie as normally it is the rest of the fleet working out how to respond to Ainslie’s dominance. It will be fascinating to watch it play out.
After the rest day for the Finns on Wednesday, races seven and eight are scheduled for 12.00 Thursday, on Weymouth Bay South course.