Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships – Ainslie resumes pole

Ben Ainslie, Finn - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
© Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR
Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships - Competition in the Finn class continued today, in Fremantle, with Triple Olympic sailing gold medallist and five-time Finn World Champion Ben Ainslie regaining control in the battle for the world title.

Ainslie and his Skandia Team GBR stable mates are continuing to prove a dominant force in the heavyweight dinghy fleet, with the 34-year-old resuming pole position in the overall standings, European Champion Giles Scott in second and defending World Champion Ed Wright in equal third with two days of competition left to run.

Giles Scott and Ben Ainslie, Finn - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
© Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR

Ainslie was on the offensive from the outset in the two gold fleet races today, winning the first race to Wright’s second, and then following up with a second place in the second race, which saw four British boats in the first four positions across the finish line. Scott was first, Wright third and Andrew Mills fourth.

It was a less impressive day for the overnight series leader Dutchman Pieter Jan Postma, with scores of 5,9 for the day dropping to third on equal points with Wright, who has a 16 point gap over the fifth placed sailor.

'Overall I’ve been slightly more consistent than the other guys,' said Ainslie. 'It’s still very, very close and a long way to go yet with two more races tomorrow and then the medal race.

'I’m happy I managed to stop the rot, as it were,' he continued.

'I’d been bleeding points to PJ and Giles for a couple of days so to turn that around and have a really good day, I needed that in terms of the overall standings and will try and keep it going tomorrow.'

The Lymington-based sailor was at pains to point out just how tough Finn racing at these World Championships has been.

'I noted a few comments by people that were pretty negative just because you’re not winning every race in an event, and that’s hard because while people might expect you to be at the top of the fleet, they don’t realise how tough this racing is and I think this week has shown that. In certain conditions some of these guys are incredibly tough to beat and have a lot of speed.

'But that’s part of the game, and I just have to deal with it. It’s great to be racing these guys in fantastic conditions and hopefully we’ll have some good racing tomorrow on the Centre Course.'

Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell had a better day in the 470 men’s event, consolidating their overall second position with a ninth and a third, while the Australian defending champions pulled away in the world title hunt, scoring two more race wins to extend their points gap over the Skandia Team GBR pairing to 12 points.

Nic Asher and Elliot Willis, 470 - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
© Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR

Results of 6,2 for two-time World Champions Nic Asher and Elliot Willis boosted their overall position from tenth to fifth while Nick Rogers-Chris Grube are just one place behind in sixth.

The Women’s Match Racing trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor were back in action today for the final day of their round robin Group B racing, with an automatic quarter-finals berth for grabs.

Although posting four wins and only one loss for their day’s efforts, they ended the round robin stage with a 10-3 win-loss record and caught in a three-way tie with the Netherlands’ Mandy Mulder and France’s Claire Leroy for the two direct quarter-finals places.

Macgregor, Lush & Macgregor, Women’s Match Racing; - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
© Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR

The British trio missed out on countback to the other two crews and finish their group in third, so will now have to fight it out through a 15-race repechage round if they’re to claim one of the four remaining quarter-finals berths.

Lush, who’s defending her world match racing title here with the Macgregor sisters, was philosophical about the tough schedule that now awaits them.

'Our goal is the Olympics,' she explained. 'It’s expensive to be here in Perth so it’s better to be here and racing than to be here sitting around in the hotel – that’s not why we paid to come here!

'I think you can see it both ways but for the long term goal, it’s probably a good thing that we’ve got a lot more racing to do. We now will definitely race all of the teams that are likely to qualify for the Olympics so that’s a big plus.'

Saturday (10 December) will see the continuation of the women’s match racing event, and also the final day of fleet racing in the Finn, RS:X Women, Laser Radial and 470 men’s events where the top ten spots for Sunday’s medal races will be determined.

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