Great Britain's Ben Ainslie made a superb recovery from sixth overall on the penultimate day of racing to claim the Bronze medal at the Laser World Championships in Mexico yesterday, making him the third nominated member of Team GB for the Sydney Olympic Games.
Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie made a superb recovery from sixth overall on the penultimate day of racing to claim the Bronze medal at the Laser World Championships in Mexico yesterday, making him the third nominated member of Team GB for the Sydney Olympic Games.
While Brazilian Robert Scheidt went on to win an unparalleled fourth Laser World title by a significant margin, Ainslie, 23, had it all to do to ensure there would be no Laser trial in Weymouth in April.
Cancun saved the best for last with a steady, solid fifteen knots of wind, beautiful sunshine, clear blue seas and superb surfing waves to close what has been a vintage championship.
As ever, Ainslie responded well to the pressure and closed the gap on the provisional medallists in the first race of the day after finishing sixth.
The final race of the series was started under a black flag that saw Scheidt amongst those on their way back to the beach early. Mark Mendleblatt (USA) led at the top mark, closely followed by Karl Suneson (Sweden). With Ainslie and Michael Blackburn well back, Suneson was looking good for the Silver medal and probably Blackburn third.
Not giving up easily and working as hard as at any point in the event, Ainslie was slowly grinding his way through the field to the extent that by the second windward mark he was able to get close enough to Suneson to try and draw him into a foul. Pushing Suneson out to the left, Ainslie sailed low to hold the Swede from tacking.
When Suneson did eventually tack a classic port-and-starboard situation ensued. Drawing away down the run, Ben went on to win the race while Blackburn continued to close up. The inevitable protest between Ainslie and Suneson was found in favour of Ainslie after a long hearing, giving Ainslie his third Laser World Champion Bronze medal to add to the two he won in 1996 and 1997.
As almost in now tradition, Paul Goodison (from Rotherham in Yorkshire) claimed Great Britain’s second place in the top ten with sixth overall.
MEXICO:Cancun: Laser World Championships final overall after 7 days (14 races, 2 discards):
1 (Gold Medal) Robert Scheidt (Bra) 1,1,2,1,1,1,1,1,21,1,14,4,2,BFD – 30.5pts 2 (Silver Medal) Michael Blackburn (Aus) 3,1,2,12,1,4,2,2,3,12,12,27,7,4 – 53pts 3, (Bronze Medal) Ben Ainslie (GBR) 1,2,1,1,3,9,3,(BFD),9,17,11,31,6,1 – 64pts
British placings: 6, Paul Goodison – 5,16,15,9,2,3,7,3,3,19,2,3,19,12 – 80pts 27, Andrew Simpson – 2,4,4,15,9,39,9,15,49,27,67,65,8,32 – 213pts 34, Mark Barron – 27,19,39,17,19,2,10,23,5,25,54,62,DNF,13 – 253pts 38, Jim Taylor – 15,23,1,23,11,20,12,37,12,38,66,36,37,53 – 264pts 46, Ed Wright – 28,17,14,6,23,22,29,BFD,31,BFD,15,14,31,RAF – 300pts 60, Dan Holman – 38,41,34,30,4,37,34,30,39,30,57,37,57,42 -395pts 66, Peter Walker – 37,29,29,28,31,66,38,12,41,28,60,41,61,35 – 408pts