Qingdao Finn Race One and Two

Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. Emilios Papathaasiou (GRE) scooped a bullet in the opening race of the Finn series.

He might be ranked just 28th in the World on the ISAF Rankings, but reigning World Champion Ben Ainslie looked like he was going to put his stamp on the 2008 Olympic Finn class with an impressive win in the first race of the Qingdao regatta. However, today’s first race was not the stuff of fairy tales.

There was sunshine and light haze as the 2008 Beijing Finn fleet assembled on course A. The wind was a three to four knots easterly, with a course heading of 115 degrees, but an AP flag went up at 1300. There was yet another AP just as the fleet was lining up. Third time lucky, the course heading was still 115 but perhaps with a little more breeze.

Ainslie started seventh or eight from the pin and cleared to leeward. Conditions were soft in the middle which initially cost the World Champion, but he found more pressure on the right, crossing behind Haris Papadopoulos (CYP).

At the top mark, Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) led from Giorgio Poggi, (ITA), then Rafael Szukiel (POL). Followed by Eduard Skornyakov (RUS), Ben Ainslie (GBR), Pieter-Jan Postma (NED), Gasper Vincec (SLO), Daniiel Birgmark (SWE) and Papadopoulos (CYP). Zach Railey (USA) was 14th, followed by Australian Anthony Nossiter in 15th ahead of Dan Slater (NZL).

It was soft down the run, Hoegh-Christensen stayed on the left of course. Poggi lead Ainslie.

It seemed like a race winning run from Ainslie, who rounded a second ahead of Ivan Klakovic-Gaspic (CRO,) with Guillame Florent (FRA) then Emilos Papadopoulos (GRE). Railey (USA) was still back amongst the pack at 14th and Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) had fallen back to 18th place.

At the top mark for the second time, GBR led Michael Maier (CZE) who had climbed from ninth place. In third place was France, then Croatia, Sweden and Greece. Australia’s Anthony Nossiter climbed to seventh place. Zac Railey was 15th.

The last run was a nail biting drift, Ainslie had attempted to cover the fleet but the Greek sailor found puffs on the edge of the course, to sneak into the lead and amazingly Railey (USA) shot into second place, coming from the other edge.

Rafael Szukiel (POL) finished third. Fourth overall was Indian army sailor Nachhatar Johal with his best ever Finn race result.

Ainslie had attempted to cover the fleet behind him, but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory; he finished 10th, 61 seconds behind the winner and only just ahead of Nossiter, with New Zealand’s Dan Slater a disappointing 18th.

Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. Ben Ainslie in the opening race of the Olympic regatta.

Results Race One - Finn

1. GRE Emilos Papathanasiou
2. USA Zach Railey
3. POL Rafal Szkiel
4. IND Nachhater Singh
5. FRA Florent Guillaume
6. CRO Ivan Gaspic

However in Race 2, Ainslie proved you can never hold a champion down.

He recovered from his earlier forgettable race and went on to win Race 2 from Rafal Szukiel (POL), with Canadian Christopher Cook finishing third. Rafa Truijillio Villar (ESP) was fourth with Zach Railey (USA) fifth. Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) finished sixth.

Overall Rafal Szukiel (POL) leads, with Zach Railey (USA) second and Ben Ainslie (GBR) third. Christopher Cook (CAN) is fourth.

Zach Railey commented dockside ' I was well back at the second top mark, took a risk going away from the fleet, found a nice little puff, a little bit of luck on that one, but I will take it. Then in the second race I was on the second row and three or four boats had an early start and had to go round, so I had clear air. Overall its definitely nice to have a good start.'

Ben Ainslie was obviously relieved after the second race. He was reminded today this was his best ever start to an Olympic campaign. He said 'I am a little bit relieved after the second race, the first race was pretty disappointing. You just have to fight back.'

Results after Day One
1POLRafal Szukiel325
2USAZach Railey257
3GBRBen Ainslie10111
4CANChris Cook8311
5FRAGuillaume Florent5813
6ESPRafa Trujillo Villar12416
7CROIvan Kljakovic-Gaspic71017
8SLOGasper Vincec91120
9DENJonas Hoegh-Christensen16622
10BRAEduardo Couto61622
11ITAGiorgio Poggi17724
12FINTapio Nirkko18927
13GREEmilios Papathansious12728
14INDNachhatar Singh Johal Johal42428
15CZEMichael Maier151429
16CYPHaris Papadopoulos131831
17SWEDaniel Birgmark141731
18AUSAnthony Nossiter112233
19NEDPieter-Jan Postma191534
20IRLTim Goodbody221335
21VENJohnny Bilbao261238
22NZLDan Slater211940
23TURAli Kemal Tufekci202141
24RUSEduard Skornyakov242044
25CHNPeng Zhang252348