More light weather has left many peoples' fingernails shorter. Matthew Sheahan reports from Qingdao
Staying in the chocolates in the overall standings is all about keeping your nose clean and putting in a good top five result. Today was clear proof of this on both courses.
In the 49er class, posting a 4th, 3rd and a 5th was sufficient to put the British pair Morrison and Rhodes into the overall lead after their first day of the Olympics. The result placed them just one point ahead of the Italian bothers, Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello and four points ahead of the third placed Danish team. Further down the field lay several of the teams that many believed would be their main competition, each of whom had a more erratic day. The Australians had to carry a 15th which left them 5th overall, while the Ukrainians ended the day with a 6th, 11th and a 12th to put them in 11th overall. The Spanish pair may have notched up a win in the first race, but a 10th and a 17th left them parked up in 8th by the end of the day.
Given that this is only day one for the 49ers, no one is counting their chickens, yet the message from this fleet alone was simple. Keep your nose clean and post consistent top five results and the overall results should leave you feeling buoyant. Yet achieving this in the light and shifty conditions was anything but simple on any of the courses. Far from it.
In the Ynglings the British girls finished their second day leading their class by a healthy 7 point margin despite some scary moments, particularly in the second of their two races when at the halfway stage they were lying second to last at the leeward mark. Clawing their way back to 9th on the second beat help to relieve the stress and taking two more places on the final run to the finish to finish 7th put them back in the comfort zone.
In the Finn class there was more boom/bust action when Ainslie was caught in a port and starboard incident with American sailor Zach Railey at the weather mark on the second beat and was forced to do penalty turns.
“It seems like whenever I go anywhere near anyone they start shouting protest at me!” joked Ainslie as he came ashore and described the drama at both the weather and leeward marks.
“In my position I just want to stay out of trouble, but it almost forces me to sail too cautiously and I ended up giving quite a lot of distance just to stay out of trouble. As I’ve learned in the past, I need to keep my nose clean.”
In the second race of the day Ainslie rounded the leeward gate with the pack once again in 6th place but managed to haul himself into the lead come the finish. Two results that bring his overall position up to second, five points behind Zach Railey.
For this American sailor, a second day at the top of the overall standings was a considerable step up at the right time, yet he remained modest about his performance.
“We’re only four races into this, we’ve got a long way to go,” he said.
“My overall goal coming into this event was to sail a conservative regatta and not try to take any big chances. I’ve tried to get a good start, get clear air and take the first shift.”
Once again, simple tactics on a day that frightened the life out of anyone supporting their favourite sailor.
Two days into the racing at a venue with conditions that have made it controversial since its announcement, what appears to be revealing itself is a very different type of racing from what we’ve been used to. The light and tricky conditions may not provide the kind of spectacle that has photographers salivating, but there is little doubt that these are tense, stressful races for the competitors and spectators alike.
Tomorrow’s racing sees the windsurfers and 470s (both men and women) take to the race course for the first time. With more light weather on the cards it’s hat, sun cream and worry beads.
BRITS IN A NUTSHELL (so far)
Yngling – 2,3,4,7 – 1st overall
Finn – 10,1,4,1 – 2nd overall
49er – 4,3,5 – 1st overall
** USEFUL LINKS **
Today’s video profiles are for 470 men and women
Nic Rogers and Joe Glanfield
Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clarke