OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Percy and Simpson seize control after strong day
IAIN Percy and Andrew Simpson were Great Britain's stand-out performer at the Olympic sailing regatta they climbed into joint first overall in the Star class.
FLEET AHEAD: Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson moved to first overall in the Star class at the London 2012 Olympic sailing regatta
But it is tight at the top of with only two points separating the top four boats with six races to go before the medal race on Sunday.
The defending champions started the day in fifth but they have now put a little distance between themselves and arch rivals Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada from Brazil, who are back in fourth.
“It was better today, better than yesterday,” said Simpson, who crews the British boat, skippered by Percy.
“But at this point you just need to get over the nerves of starting an event and get on with it.
“We were fast downwind as Iain is fantastic at steering the boat in that stuff and it should get more fun as we get out onto the south course for the next few days which will be a bit more wavy.
“There’s no secret to winning in these conditions, you’ve just got to avoid the big losses like we had yesterday and that was frustrating – it’s snakes and ladders and we found a snake.
“The conditions can be unpredictable but it’s never a lottery; it’s educated guessing.”
Triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie had a disappointing day in his quest to defend his title in the Finn class as sixth and 12th-place finishes saw him drop to fourth overall.
Britain’s most successful sailor once again had to watch Denmark’s Jonas Hogh-Christensen rule the waves as the overnight leader extended his lead despite a seventh place.
The Dane had a penalty start and was languishing in the fleet but raced back to finish ahead of Ainslie who was unable to capitalise on the mistake.
And Ainslie was disappointed with his day’s work after two seconds in the opening race had left him breathing down the neck of Hogh-Christensen, who stole the day with two wins.
“It was a frustrating day for me,” said Ainslie. “I didn’t sail well at all so I’m not happy with that.
“It’s a real fine line at this level, it wasn’t anything in particular that I did wrong it just didn’t come together so I’ll have to raise my game for the rest of the week.
“There’s lots of small things I need to put right – you don’t suddenly wake up one day and become a bad sailor. Sometimes you have bad days and you have to accept that.
“Me and Jonas came close a couple of times, but I think at this stage of the event it’s a bit too early to start playing games with one another – we were both just trying to sail our own race and do as well as we could.”
Britain’s other returning defending champion Paul Goodison had a day to forget as he battled a potential injury as well as the imperious Australian Tom Slingsby, the favourite for gold in the Laser.
The Briton was tenth in race one but limped home in 23rd in the second to leave himself a mountain to climb from 17th overall.
Team GB manager Stephen Park said Goodison was not seriously injured but had suffered a muscle problem in his lower back at the beginning of the second race.
Goodison’s back had responded well to physio on his return to shore and was quick to look forward to the next part of the regatta.
“In the first race I had quite a good start but didn’t quite get out of the pack, and once you’re in the pack it’s very difficult to sail where you want," he said.
“It wasn’t an ideal start but there’s still another eight races to go.”
Great Britain's 49er crew of Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes started their regatta with two 12th places, though nobody stood out in the first two races.
The pair were ninth in Beijing after entering as favourites but they know a good start in that regatta meant nothing as they faded towards the end.
“As we proved in China, you can start the event in the lead and not finish in the lead so it’s not time to panic,” said Morrison. “But It’s not how you want to start a regatta, you want to start with two firsts.
“We are still racing a week on Wednesday, so it’s about being patient and being tough – we are where we are right now and we’re certainly not out of it.
“With the shifty conditions here it’s like playing Super Mario Kart – sometimes you get a banana skin sometimes you get a mushroom."
© Sportsbeat 2012