Light and fluky then strong and gusty, not a good day to discover you don't like it when it blows. Plenty to watch in Athens
There’s nothing like getting angry to get even. Ben Ainslie’s dreadful start to the Olympics yesterday seems to have fired him into action today as he won both races in very tricky conditions. First it was light and fluky, then later on the day the breeze piped up. (At one stage there were eight capsizes on the first downwind leg of the second race.)
“As far as he’s concerned there’s no way Ben’s going to let anyone else win tomorrow,” said GBR team manager Stephen Parks late last night shortly after the news of his disqualification had broken.
For anyone else you might cast this aside as casual rhetoric, but when it’s Ainslie you have to take it seriously, he certainly did.
“I was pretty fired up to turn things around after yesterday and get back on track,” he said. “The first race I was 16th around the top mark and came back on the run, managing to get up to second place and in the second race I had a good battle and again managed to get out n front.
“I am just really relieved that I managed to come back from the day yesterday and I just need to try and keep it going for the rest of the week.”
The Polish sailor Mateusz Kusznierewicz continues to lead the Finn class.
Shirley Robertson and her crew pulled off a double win as well in the Yngling class and looked comfortable and confident in the stronger breeze. The impressive result puts the girls first overall with the Russian crew in second.
“In a way we were more pleased with yesterday,” she said referring to the improvement in their light airs performance. “Yesterday was hard, really tough, trying to find the right way to go. We weren’t the fastest. Light winds and a chop is just the worst thing in a Yngling.”
In the 470 class, Nick Rogers and Jo Glanfield had another good day on the water pulling themselves back from a difficult start to the first race to finish 9th and coming 4th in the second race, two results that keep them at the top of their group. Yet at several stages things looked very different.
“At the start of the first race I lost the transit on the start line and we were convinced that we were really close to the line,” said Glanfield. “We know in these conditions [northerly breeze] that there are plenty of opportunities to get back into the race so it wasn’t worth risking an OCS.”
But the move left them trailing the fleet in 22nd place at the first weather mark.
“After that we had a good first run and Nick spotted a gust which we managed to get into first which got us back into the group,” he continued.
The second race was a more lively affair all round with the breeze getting up to 25 knots at times. Rogers and Glanfield looked good all the way round while others struggled to keep the plot together. The morning’s winner and ’96 Gold medallists Eugen Braslavets and Igor Matienko from the Ukraine broke their rudder on the tight reach while leading the fleet.
“We might have looked OK but we didn’t feel it at times,” said Glanfield. “I can’t believe I’m saying that I feel rusty at the Olympics Games, but we’ve been sailing in sea breezes for absolutely ages so we haven’t sailed in anything above 10 knots for some time. We weren’t finding our gears like we normally do and we weren’t as comfortable with the boat. It felt physically demanding.
“On the last run we came so close to capsizing and then Nick managed to let the kicker off which saved the broach, but put us into a Chinese gybe the other way. We managed to save that but we lost one boat in the process and slipped into fourth.
“Once that had happened we locked down and said, ‘right we’ve got to get across the finish line, fourth fifth or sixth, it really doesn’t matter.”
Elsewhere on the race course the Norwegian sailor Siren Sundby took an early and expected lead in the Europe class while Austrian Andreas Geritzer currently leads the seven times world champion in the Laser class Robert Scheidt.
Talk of more of the same tomorrow. Given the spectacle today, personally I can’t wait.