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The Road to Weymouth continues
The biggest British Olympic story will no doubt be if ‘Big Ben' Ainslie does not win his fourth Olympic Gold Medal.
Early season preparation for Britain's most successful Olympic sailor was not as expected. The Rule 69 cost him the 2011 Finn World Championship, the veteran's persistent back injury has been an issue all year. He did win the Finn 2012 World title, his sixth, but a capsize in the medal race in the Sail for Gold regatta meant he finished second behind fellow Briton Giles Scott.
‘It's a bit embarrassing going for a swim,' said Ainslie, ‘But sometimes these things happen. Thankfully it wasn't the Olympic Games. I made a mistake, we're all human.'
The USA's Zach Railey and the ‘Postman', Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) will be amongst the large group of Finn sailors happy to hear that admission.
Perhaps the pressure is already telling on another British sailor Paul Goodison, GBR's Laser medal hope, the 2008 Laser Gold Medallist who has not beaten his nemesis, Australia's Tom Slingsby in a regatta all year.
When Slingsby dominated the 2011 World titles in Perth, Goodison was fifth. When he won the 2012 Laser Worlds in Boltenhagen in Germany recently, Goodison struggled to a 20th place.
Paul Goodison - Laser Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR
In a move no doubt designed to put pressure on his rival, after winning bronze behind Slingsby, at the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta, Goodison told the British tabloids that he'd been ‘done over' by Slingsby and fellow Australian Tom Burton in the Medal Race. His version was that the Australians had team sailed to beat him.
In the Laser Radial class, Alison Young (GBR) was the surprise winner at Weymouth. Looking at form across the last year, China's Lijia Xu, the 2008 Olympic Bronze medallist, should start favourite in Weymouth. But it's been a curious preparation for Xu who has spent comparatively little time in Weymouth, and this might bring her undone. Come August one expects Alison Young, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Sari Multala (FIN) will also be in the mix.
While Britain's Lucy McGregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor are the second ranked team on the Women's Match Racing circuit, this event is wide open. A few months ago the USA camp had ‘gold medal' plastered across Anna Tunnicliffe prospects. The 2011 World Champion, Tunnicliffe (USA) has held the top spot in the Women's Match Racing Rankings since September 2011.
The American defeated Lucy Macgregor (GBR) 4-0 in the final in Perth, Australia and has since gone on to notch up three regatta victories. She finished with a bronze at Sail for Gold behind Australia's Olivia Price and French star Claire Leroy. In the Women's World Match Racing finals Tunnicliffe was beaten 0-3 by Silja Lehtinen (FIN). Macgregor finish seventh.