The British head the fleet in the Finns class pre-Olympic test event at the Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre

Sailors were greeted at the Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre with a gentle breeze and racing got underway on time. The exception was the Tornado and Mistral classes who were kept on shore until their courses were clear as the race committee attempted to catch up on races that were missed yesterday.

It was another good day for the Brits out on the Finn course, but this time there was a change in the pecking order. Andrew Simpson sailed a good race in the tricky conditions to lead his team mate and world champion, Ben Ainslie, across the finish line, with Charlie Cumbley coming in eleventh.

Simpson commented, “I didn’t have the best of starts but managed to sail a good race in the tricky conditions. The wind was varying from 2-18 knots making it very important to spot the shifts and I did this well.”

RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park added, “It is good to see that Bart [Andrew] is getting some top results and race wins in. Despite what many people think about the Finn class being a one horse race from two years out, this performance shows the level of talent and he is certainly not going to make it easy for Ben.”

This result sees Simpson move up into fourth place overall and only two points away from second place. Ainslie still leads the fleet and has a healthy points margin over second placed Guillaume Florent of France. Charlie Cumbley is currently in sixth place overall. A second race was attempted on the Finn course but was abandoned due to the huge wind shifts and lack of wind.

The Yngling class was sharing the same course as the Finns and therefore also the same conditions, with big wind shifts on the course. Team GBR coped well with the conditions and scored their best results of the week. Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson, sailing with Inga Leask and Sarah Ayton lead round the windward mark and just lost the lead due to a wind shift on the last run, finishing in third place.

Leask explained, “We started well and played the shifts to our advantage on the first beat to come out at the windward mark in the lead. The wind died down the last run and then shifted so the run became a reach into the finish. We lost a couple of place but were pleased with the result.”

A third place finish moves Robertson and her team up into fourth place overall and one point away from third place.

Fellow team GBR sailor Lizzie Edwards, sailing with Caroline Edwards and Sarah Allen also scored their best result of the regatta, crossing the line in fourth place.

“We had a good day all round. We made a good start, played the shifts right upwind and downwind and in particular on the last run. We gybed early as the wind shifted which put us in the lead, the wind was filling down in streams and it was really close going into the finish, ” commented a delighted Caroline Edwards.

Close racing was enjoyed in the Laser class, with the light airs and tricky conditions causing some high scoring results for some of the competitors. Team GBR sailor Paul Goodison was amongst them and scored an eleventh place in the first race. The second race was more successful, finishing in second place behind five times world champion Robert Scheidt of Brazil.

The final race of the day saw the wind shut off and posed a problem for many of the top sailors in the world. Goodison finished in eighteenth place, but as five races have now been sailed his worst results can be discarded, and he has managed to maintain the lead. Karl Suneson of Sweden is on even points in second place overall, with Gareth Blanckenberg of South Africa third and Scheidt fourth. Fellow team GBR sailor Ed Wright has moved up in to 21st place.

Goodison commented, “It goes without saying that today was the trickiest day we have had on the Saronic Gulf. The wind varied in direction and strength all day and the shifts were very hard to spot.”

It was a late day off the water for the Tornado fleet, as they were sharing the same course as the 470s they had to wait on shore until they had finished racing before going out. The Tornados experienced the same fluky breeze that the other classes had and with three races there was a rapid changing of positions. After three races Roman Hagara/Hans-Peter Steinacher took over the lead, but the points are even with the top three pairings all tied on twelve points.

The tactical sailing favoured the British pairing of Rob Wilson/Will Howden who won the first race of day, which they then followed up with a fifth. Missing a shift in the final race saw them finish in 22nd place but as this is their worst result so far it can be discarded. They have jumped up into sixth place overall, whilst team mates Hugh Styles/Adam May sailed a good final race to see them get their feet inside the top ten, and are lying ninth overall.

Wilson explained the day, “It was like a game of snakes and ladders, and in the first two races we had more ladders. We played the shifts well to pull off some good results. In the final race of the day we definitely had more snakes and dropped back into 22nd place, but on the whole we sailed a good day.”

Racing continues through until the 23 August with eleven races scheduled for all classes except the 49ers who are expected to complete sixteen races. The Star class is not participating at the event due to a clash with their world championships and the Europe class has a decrease in participation numbers, which is also due to a clash with their Worlds.

Sacha Oswald