Lack of wind means medal race abandoned, but Ainslie wins with ease. Matthew Sheahan reports from Falmouth
Only a disqualification in
today’s double points scoring medal race could have seen Ben Ainslie, who
started today 20 points ahead of second placed team mate Ed Wright, lose his
sixth Finn World Championship title. He knew it, his competitors knew it and so
did the whole of Falmouth.
This morning as the sailors
rigged their boats and prepared to go afloat, there was only one sailor that
the press entourage wanted to follow.
But while plenty were quick
to jump to the conclusion last night that the three times Olympic Gold
medallist had won the event, the more experienced followers were taking nothing
for granted, especially those who had witnessed the meltdown in Perth on the
penultimate day of racing.
With a weather forecast
that suggested light winds at best, the prospects for a final showdown looked
unlikely. Nevertheless, with 8-9 knots of breeze and a big swell left over from
the punchy conditions yesterday, the race committee did get racing underway
only to abandon the race just half way up the first beat as the breeze decayed
to 5 knots.
The breeze never reappeared
and the race was eventually abandoned – Ainslie had won his sixth Finn World
Championship. Under normal circumstances this would be major story in its own
right, but this is no ordinary year and no ordinary sailor.
“Clearly the Olympics is
what many of us are here for and for me there are still plenty of improvements
to me made and I won’t be relaxing over the next couple of months,” he said.
“This event is important but it is also a stepping stone along that road. The
important thing for me now is to try to keep my form running and find any
issues that could be improved.”
Improvement has been the
watchword of ‘Team Ainslie’ over the last year, particularly after he was
awarded the British place at the Games. Since then he has been training with
the sailors that had been challenging him for that coveted place.
“Having such a strong group
of sailors has been a huge part of the success. Being able to train and race
against them shows in the results. We had four guys in the top ten and I’m
pretty sure Giles Scott would have made the top ten if he had been here. So
effectively you could say we have five guys in the top ten in the world which
is an amazing result for the whole team.
“I’m very pleased in
particular for Mark Andrews [Ainsle’s training partner] who has been working at
it for a long time and has got a seventh which is a fantastic achievement for
all the effort he has put in.”
So what next?
“I have to run a couple of
hundred metres down the road tomorrow with a torch!”
Here in Falmouth the Finn
Gold Cup has come to an end but the build up to the Olympics is just about to
start. In a few hours time, Ainslie will have led both.