Ainslie clinches fourth Finn European Championship

by RYA 
Ben Ainslie wins Finn European Championship 2008
James Taylor
Ben Ainslie overcame an eight-point deficit going into the final medal race to claim a sensational 2008 Finn European Championship title at Scarlino, Italy on Saturday.

With Frenchman Guillaume Florent having led the Championships since day three, Skandia Team GBR’s five-time World champion Ainslie knew he needed at least four boats to be between himself and Florent at the end of Saturday’s medal race if he was going to claim his fourth European title.

With clinical efficiency the Lymington-based double Olympic champion sealed a dramatic final race win meaning the destiny of the title was unfolding behind him and with Florent finishing eighth, the gold medal was Ainslie’s while Croatia’s Ivan Gaspic took silver and Florent was forced to settle for bronze.

A delighted Ainslie said: 'I had a game plan that I had discussed with my coach, Jez Fanstone, to have a bit of a match race with Florent in the pre-start and to try to put him off his game plan.

'I managed to force him into making a mistake and by halfway down the first beat I could see he wasn’t going so well so I decided to pull the throttle to try to get as big a lead as possible and hope he didn’t pull through.

'This does rank amongst one of my more satisfying victories; it is always nice to win when you have been behind going into the last race. It was really difficult conditions, the wind was really shifting and the medal race was delayed by a couple of hours too.

'The Worlds and Olympics are my big goals for the year but the Europeans are an important event and it was important to keep the impetus going in what was my last big event before Beijing.'

In an incident packed week, Ainslie, who took gold the last time he competed at the Championships in 2005 having also sailed to glory in 2002 and 2003, got off to a perfect start taking victory in the only race of day one.

But having picked up an ultimately discarded 16th and a fourth on a long, hard day two, and a second and eighth the following day, Ainslie trailed Florent by seven points at the halfway mark.

The Brit thought he had pulled himself even further back into gold medal contention after posting two bullets in races six and seven but his Championship hopes took a hit when, following a protest for a pre-start infringement involving Canadian Christopher Cook, Ainslie was disqualified from race seven.

An eighth for Ainslie and a discarded 20th for Florent on the penultimate day of racing left Ainslie knowing exactly what was required to make it a 2008 World and European Championships double and once again in the face of pressure, he rose to the challenge to claim the top prize.

2008 Finn European Championship (Scarlino, Italy) final results:

1st GBR Ben Ainslie 42
2nd CRO Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 47
3rd FRA Guillaume Florent 48
4th SLO Gasper Vincec 59
5th DEN Jonas Hogh-Christensen 66
6th CAN Christopher Cook 68
7th SWE Daniel Birgmark 74
8th NED Pieter-Jan Postma 75
9th USA Zach Railey 83
10th ESP Rafael Trujillo 92
11th POL Rafal Szukiel 111
12th FIN Tapio Nirkko 115
13th GBR Ed Wright 116
14th NZL Dan Slater 121
15th AUS Anthony Nossiter 121
16th ITA Giorgio Poggi 143
17th FRA Ismael Bruno 150
18th TUR Ali kemal Tufekci 153
19th FRA Jonathan Lobert 156
20th GBR Ed Greig 158
21st IRL Timothy Goodbody 159
22nd RUS Eduard Skornyakov 167
23rd GER Jan Kurfeld 169 Juniores
24th POL Piotr Kula 176 Juniores
25th CZE Michael Maier 190
26th ITA Riccardo Cordovani 194
27th GBR Mark Andrews 198
28th NOR Peer Moberg 199
29th ITA Emanuele Vaccari 210
30th AUT Florian Raudaschl 216
31st CYP Haris Papadopoulos 224
32nd SWE Bjorn Allansson 229
33rd GBR Andrew Mills 246
34th NED Nanno Schuttrups 262
35th CZE Rudolf Lidarik 263
36th ESP1 Diego Fructuoso 274
37th CZE Tomas Vika 282 Juniores
38th CAN Matt Johnston 287
39th GRE Alexandros Dragoutsis 305
40th ITA Marko Kolic 325
41st ITA Francesco Lubrano 325
42nd UKR Andriy Gusenko 330 Juniores
43rd BUL Mihail Kopanov 331
44th NED Dennis de Ruiter 333
45th ITA Piero Romeo 342
46th RUS Dmirtry Tereshkin 359
47th HUN Marton Beliczay 378
48th ITA Carlo Recchi 380 Juniores
49th HUN Gaszton Pal 381
50th ITA Marco Buglielli 382
51st CAN Abe Torchinsky 386
52nd GER Sebastian Kaule 387 Juniores
53rd POL Michal Strusinski 402
54th BRA Eduardo Couto 406
55th ITA Roberto Bosetti 414
56th ITA Simone Mancini 422
57th NED Karel Van Hellemond 425
58th RUS Alexey Selivanov 426 Juniores
59th DEN Kenneth Boggild 433
60th CZE Jan CaJCIC 435 Juniores
61st CZE Tomas Hrncal 449 Juniores
62nd POR Frederico Melo 452 Juniores
63rd NED Gert Van der Heijden 455
64th ITA Lorenzo Podestà 457 Juniores
65th RUS Viacheslav Sivienkov 469 Juniores
66th POL Maciej Pezala 471 Juniores
67th HUN Geza Huszar 471
68th RUS Vasily Kravchenko 472
69th HUN Peter Haidekker 485
70th ITA Paolo Cisbani 501
71st USA Conrad Brown 504
72nd GRE Davourlis Panagiutis 518
73rd POL Tomek Kosmicki 528
74th ITA Andrea Bianchi 535
75th SRB Srdjan Volarevic 536
76th SRB Branislav Erac 543
77th GRE Constantinos Gnafakis 551
78th ITA Francesco Cinque 563
79th GRE Eirinaios Gnafakis 571
80th SRB Darko Burcul 572
81st ITA Michele Tognozzi 635
82nd ITA Mauro Merlini 642
83rd GRE Aimilios Papathanasiou 672