by Di Pearson
Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie started his Finn Olympic campaign in fine style this afternoon winning two from two at the Sydney International Regatta on Sydney Harbour, giving Ed Wright, his rival for the Olympic berth a caning.
Man of the moment - Ben Ainslie sends his Finn - SIRS 2007
Sailing in the Yachting NSW event on the Manly Circle in a gusty 15-20 knot nor-east breeze, Ainslie never really looked threatened, although he lost his lead in Race 2 at one stage. Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) did all he could to overcome the brilliant Brit, but had to settle for a pair of two places to be placed second overall on day one of the ISAF Grade 1 regatta.
Third and fourth places are also held down by Brits, Giles Scott scored a pair of third places and Ed Greig finished fourth in both races.
World champion, Rafael Trujillo (ESP) came up with a pair of fifth places for fifth overall. Brendan Casey in sixth place is the best placed Aussie, while Australia’s Olympian for Beijing Anthony Nossiter is 10th placed behind Britain’s Wright after a lacklustre day.
Australia had a better day in the Laser Radial Women’s, as Sarah Blanck, the Victorian sailor bound for Beijing, finished her day with a second and a bullet to lead the pointscore from Tania Elias Calles (MEX) who scored a win in Race 1 and third place in Race 2.
Laura Baldwin, currently third, was the best placed of the British girls, one place in front of Olympic prospect Lizzie Vickers (GBR) with her rival Andrea Brewster finishing the day in sixth place on countback to Vickers.
It was good news for the Aussies in the Tornado class too, as Darren Bundock/Glenn Ashby finished their day with 3-1-1 results for an early lead in the series over Leigh McMillan Will Howden (GBR) who scored 2-3-3 results.
Denmark’s Allan Norregaard/Michael Rissoer are third going into tomorrow racing with 5-2-4 results. Although they won the opening race, Johannes Polgar/Florian Spalteholz could not maintain so are fourth overall following fourth and seventh places in Races 2 and 3.
A win in Race 3 has given the Irish McGovern brothers, Russell and Matthew, an early one point lead in the 49er skiff. Great Britain’s Paul Campbell James/Mark Asquith took out Race 1 to be placed second overall, while Australia’s Olympians for Beijing, Nathan Outteridge/Ben Austin are a further point away in third place after winning Race 3.
Britain’s top ranked pair, Stevie Morrison/Ben Rhodes are not at SIRs, electing to stay in Melbourne to train for the upcoming World’s in January.
'We’re kind of happy with how we went today,' said Outteridge, following a spill in Race 3 which cost them the lead of the race. 'It was good racing really and we settled in well to get back up into the fleet in that race.
'There were lots of boats out there on our course, so that made things difficult,' Outteridge said. British skipper Paul Campbell-James agreed. 'Too much traffic. It made things hard, but it was very nice out there today – Sydney Harbour at its best,' he said of the beautiful 15-20 knot nor-easterly winds.
A win and a fourth place has put the USA team of Amanda Clark/Sarah Mergenthaler in the 470 Women’s lead, with the Swiss pair Emmanuelle Rol/Anne-Sophie Thilo went 5-5 for second place with the French stalwarts Ingrid Petitjean/Nadege Douroux currently third after scoring second and sixth places.
In the 470 Men’s, French brothers Ben and Romain Bonnaud (FRA) came out fighting showed the 36-strong fleet a thing or two, winning both races. They lead from Australian Olympians Nathan Wilmot/Malcolm Page who scored 3-2 results and another pair of brothers, Sven and Kalle Coster (NED) with 5-4 finishes.
Krystal Weir steered Karyn Gojnich and Angela Farrell to three wins in the Yngling class. Gun Aussie match racing skippers, Nicky Souter and Katie Spithill and their crews, are second and third respectively.
The Laser fleet hit the water just after 2.30pm and all was going well for world champion Tom Slingsby (AUS) as his comfortably won his group with two bullets. However, Race 3 was a different matter as the young Central Coast sailor explains: 'a storm came through and the breeze disappeared. I found myself on the wrong side of the shift and dropped back to finish around ninth. '
It was a late finish for the four groups of Lasers results were still being calculated when we went to press, but they will be posted on the official race website.
Racing continues from host venue Woollahra Sailing Club tomorrow starting from 10.00am.
Full results, including RS:X sailboards, Youth 420, Laser Radial, Laser 4.7 and 29ers, go to: www.nsw.yachting.org.au/sir2007
(image: 'Alt_Johannes Polgar & Florian Spalteholz (GER) won the opening Tornado race.jpg' not found)
49er action Day 1 - the tongue on the driver says it all! - SIRS 2007
49er action at SIRs on Day 1 - SIRS 2007