Witness the big drama of the sailing Olympics as Ainslie attempts to hunt down and eat the entrails of his Danish rival
It’s all about Ben Ainslie.
“What happened in the race?” a young woman among the
throng of spectators on Weymouth beach asked me.
“Which one?” I replied.
It was Busy Tuesday. There were six races going on at the same
time; you felt breathless simply watching.
The woman looked at me blankly.
“Ben Ainslie’s,” she said, bemused.
To many people on the beach here and at home Ainslie’s is the
only name they really know. He’s the headline, the rest are supporting acts.
Ainslie is such a giant figure in sailing that he threatens to
hussle the wind away from other courses and competitors. With one exception:
Danish sailor Jonas Hoegh-Christensen. Right now, I think more people could
tell you about his arch-rival than anyone else in any fleet.
Tomorrow the stage is set for a duel at high noon to decide who
takes Gold. Perhaps even whether Ainslie attempts to exclude the Dane from
taking any medal.
Such is the drama that Ainslie tows behind him, like the fiery
tail of a particularly spectacular comet.
No wonder they want him in the America’s Cup.
Ainslie may not mean to create a soap opera plot, but that’s
exactly what he has scripted: Ben, the 10 o’clock shadowed hero-villain
versus the knowing Dane who made him angry and slyly fanned the flames.
Oh, Jonas, you shouldna done that. Now it’s personal.
Sailing seems so elegant and cerebral that it’s a shock and a
secret pleasure to see some blood in the water. On the Nothe and on the beach
in Weymouth tomorrow, and on thousands of screens at home, we will be Romans at
heart roaring to see the gladiators attempt to put each other to the sword.
I don’t know about you but I’m going to the beach tomorrow with
an extra large ice cream and a giant bag of Revels. Watching the kill,
whichever way it goes, is hungry work.