Great Britain's 1996 Olympic Silver Medallist Ben Ainslie and his Brazilian adversary Robert Scheidt continued their battle for the Laser world title in Mexico yesterday, with Ainslie, from Lymington in Hampshire, levelling the score at five points apiece after four races.
Great Britain’s 1996 Olympic Silver Medallist Ben Ainslie and his Brazilian adversary Robert Scheidt continued their battle for the Laser world title in Mexico yesterday, with Ainslie, from Lymington in Hampshire, levelling the score at five points apiece after four races.
In the first race the two favourites went head to head. After a short delay while the course was moved, both Ainslie and Scheidt made excellent starts in the idealic 15 knot breeze. Thereafter they split to different sides of the course, only coming together again 200 metres short of the windward mark.
Significantly, Ainslie was a vital two boat lengths clear and was able to press home his advantage on the first reach to open out a 40 second lead by the leeward mark. Ainslie defended his lead for the remainder of the race despite several attempts by Scheidt to edge past, including a tacking dual on the final beat to the finish. “I had a good start “said Ainslie “and I just managed to get ahead of Robert on the first beat and pull away a bit on the first run”.
Success too for British sailors in the second group. Andrew Simpson (from Hayling Island in Hampshire) led at the windward mark, with relative newcomer, Jim Taylor (St Leonard’s on Sea in Sussex) close behind. Down the first run they swapped places, allowing Taylor to open out a big lead. “I was quite surprised” said Taylor afterwards. “I got around the windward mark quite well and on the downwind I was a lot quicker so I was quite pleased with that.”
Simpson meanwhile had to turn his attention to fending off a challenge from first Karl Suneson (Sweden) and then Michael Blackburn (Australia). Following a collision with Suneson near the second windward mark – for which Suneson did a 720 degree turn – Simpson had to resign second place to Blackburn and then third to Suneson. Simpson, who was fifth at the last World Championships, remains in close contention with the leaders in sixth overall with three days of qualifying remaining before the Gold and Silver fleet split.
Race two saw the favourites, Ainslie and Scheidt in different fleets with Ainslie clocking his third race win, this time from Luis Martinez (Spain) by a remarkable 1.5 minutes with fellow World Class Performance sailor Edward Wright (from Glywd in Wales) finishing sixth.
(Information received from Laser World Championship press officer, Peter Bentley)
Meanwhile, at the 49er World Championships on the opposite side of Mexico, Andy and Ian Budgen are Great Britain’s top scoring pair in tenth overall after the first four qualifying races.
MEXICO:Cancun: Laser World Championships after 2 days (4 races): 1, Robert Scheidt (Bra) 1,1,2,1 – 5pts 2, Ben Ainslie (GBR) 1,2,1,1 – 5pts 3, Karl Suneson (Swe) 2,8,3,2 – 15pts Other British: 6, Andrew Simpson – 2,4,4,15 – 25pts 19, Paul Goodison – 5,16,15,9 – 45pts 27, Jim Taylor – 15,23,1,23 – 62pts 29, Edward Wright – 28,17,14,6 – 65pts 49, Mark Barron – 27,19,39,17 – 102pts 61, Peter Walker – 37,29,29,28 – 123pts 73, Dan Holman – 38,41,34,30 -143pts 81, Andrew Walsh – 39,42,41,37 – 159pts 92, James Date – 60,47,42,31 – 180pts 105, David Hivey – 46,60,58,43 – 207pts 114, Ben Rhodes – 52,59,57,56 – 224pts