Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy win final round of RYA National Match Racing Series qualifier 4/10/07

Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy made the most of mixed conditions at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy to win the final round of the RYA National Match Racing Series qualifiers last weekend (29-30 September).

But it was not all plain sailing as the Team Origin America’s Cup duo experienced a rare round-robin defeat hiccup on their way to overall victory in the qualifying event.

Skipper Matt Greenfield, 22, was the man who took the illustrious scalp in a thrilling flight 11 battle in which penalties played a key role resulting in a head-to-head battle to the line with Greenfield just getting his nose in front.

The nine participating crews struggled with light winds in Portland Harbour on Saturday before breeze of up to 20 knots made for some captivating racing on the second and final day.

Despite his heroics earlier in the day, Greenfield’s crew were unable to repeat the feat in the final as Ainslie’s experience shone through to comfortably take top spot with Niall Myatt in third and Charlotte Lawrence fourth.

Ainslie’s last match racing outing came almost a year ago when he saw of extreme competition from some of the World’s top match racers to win the Allianz Cup in San Francisco, a regatta that is part of the World Match Racing Tour.

And he admitted it was good to blow the cobwebs away at Weymouth and Portland.

Ainslie said: “The weekend was perfect for us, we hadn’t match raced for a year so it was important we went through the processes of pre-starts, timings, variations etc, we were pushed pretty hard at times and match racing is never a walk over because it is such a complex race where it is easy to make mistakes.

“We were impressed by the attitude of everyone and the level of the competition. Many of the crews were quite young and new to match racing and Matt Greenfield’s crew impressed us in the race we lost to them.

“We were in a very strong position in the pre-start but we made one move too many, which put him in a strong position and we weren’t able to shake off the penalty. We wanted to use that opportunity to learn and practice our penalties but we were still very impressed. It is crucial to practice getting your routines right and we were grateful for the opportunity to be able to race.”

The finals of the RYA National Match Racing Series take place at Weymouth and Portland between Friday 12 October and Sunday 14 October. The last finalists will be decided at the Women’s Match Racing Championships at the same venue this coming weekend.

Results (Final Qualifier)
1 Ben Ainslie

2 Matt Greenfield

3 Niall Myant

4 Charlotte Lawrence

5 Ben Pym

6 David Tabb

7 Sam Goodchild

8 Sam Pearson

9 Russell Beale