Ainslie disqualified after winning 2 races today

Ben Ainslie - Finn European Championship 2008
James Taylor

Just when it looked like chink had appeared in the winning machine that is Ben Ainslie, he led a Team GBR revival that saw them take five of the first nine places in race six. Ainslie won both of the days races to take the series lead, but later he was disqualified from race seven over an incident with Canadian Christopher Cook - both sailors were disqualified.

The protest concerned two incidences in the pre-start phase of race 7. Ainslie was disqualified when he established an overlap too close to allow Cook to respond. In a second incident the Canadian failed to keep clear of Ainslie who was to leeward.

In a separate protest between Gaspar Vincec and Zach Railey of the USA, the Slovenian was disqualified for an incident at the first mark.

This drops Ainslie from his leading position and after seven races Frenchman Guillaume Florent now leads on 20 points followed by Ainslie on 32 and Cook 34.

Ed Wright was also in high speed mode, finishing second in both races, but was called OCS in the second, he is tenth overall.

It was all change in Scarlino Thursday morning. The strong offshore wind that has been a feature of the past two days had given way to a light onshore wind. By 11.00 this had started to kick in so the fleet was sent out for a first start at 12.45 in 10-12 knots from the west and gloriously brilliant blue skies.

After one general recall, race seven started under the black flag. Britain's Ed Greig started two boats up from the pin end, sailed to the left hand corner, tacked and then rounded the windward mark with a 10 boat length lead ahead of the rest of the British Team.

Ben Ainslie rounded second followed by three other British sailors, Andrew Mills, Ed Wright and Mark Andrews.

On the downwind Ainslie gybed immediately to port and was soon in the lead which he extended all the way to the leeward gate. On the next upwind he played the shifts up the middle with Greig maintaining second place. However the largest gain was made by Anthony Nossiter of Australia who moved from outside the top 15 to third place at the top mark.

On the downwind to the finish Ainslie stretched out a significant lead to win the race by just under a minute. Behind him, second placed Greig received a yellow flag and dropped to fifth doing his penalty turns. Wright recovered from fourth at the top mark to cross the finish line in second with Nossiter third and Daniel Birgmark of Sweden in fourth.

Race eight was very much the same with those favouring the left hand side looking rosy while those sailing to the right suffered severely.

Starting 10-15 boats back from the pin end, Wright sailed to the left hand corner to build a useful lead round the first mark. Ainslie started beneath him but got buried and had to tack off and duck transoms. He managed to find a clear lane and worked up the middle to round the top mark just behind Wright.

Third round the mark was Denmark's Jonas Høgh-Christensen, who started right on the pin and also went to the left.

The leaders split gybes on the first downwind with a separation of up to 250 metres at one point. Wright and Ainslie took the right while Høgh-Christensen and Gasper Vincec (SLO) took the left. At the gate, Høgh-Christensen had moved in front and rounded the port mark and sailed on a few hundred metres before tacking back to the left.

Ainslie rounded the starboard mark right in front of Wright and both sailed onto the left. When the three crossed again near the top of the beat, Ainslie was clear ahead and has a useful gap on Wright in second. Croatian Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic rounded just ahead of Høgh-Christensen.

On the final downwind, the wind started to drop significantly but Ainslie managed to extend his lead to finish some 50 seconds ahead of Wright. However Wright was scored OCS, so Kljakovic Gaspic moved up to second and Høgh-Christensen in third.

Meanwhile, the battle for the Junior title is hotting up with Jan Kurfeld of Germany reducing the points gap to the current leader Poland's Piotr Kula to just 11 points. Third placed Tomas Vika (CZE) is some 77 points off the lead so will be looking to maintain his 31 points lead over fourth placed Junior Andriy Gusenko of the Ukraine.

Ainslie commented,

'The breeze is very consistent around here, although today it was further from the south, and the waves were a little different. Yesterday I made life hard for myself but today I chose the right side of the course and managed to take advantage of the left hand shift. I've never been here before but it really is a beautiful place. I got to see some of it while we were training but of course when we are racing we are 100 per cent focussed on the competition. I haven't cruised in a while, but this would be a great place to come and do some.'

Tomorrow will be a crucial day as the final qualification race will be sailed to decide who will sail in the medal race on Saturday. There will also a ninth race for the rest of the fleet.

Finn - Leading positions after 7 races, 1 dicard - after protest

1st FRA Guillaume Florent 2 2 6 1 3 -12 6 32 20pts
2nd GBR Ben Ainslie 1 16 4 2 8 1 (84.0 DSQ) 116 32
3rd CAN Christopher Cook 14 3 2 3 1 11 (84.0 DSQ) 118 34
4th CRO Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (84.0 DSQ) 4 9 8 7 8 1 121 37
5th USA Zach Railey -63 6 5 7 5 16 3 105 42
6th DEN Jonas Hogh-Christensen 4 12 10 5 -30 10 2 73 43
7th SLO Gasper Vincec 6 1 3 13 9 15 (84.0 DSQ) 131 47
8th NED Pieter-Jan Postma 9 15 1 -20 2 17 10 74 54
9th SWE Daniel Birgmark 3 (84.0 BFD) 14 19 18 4 7 149 65
10th GBR Ed Wright 8 13 8 28 14 2 (84.0 BFD) 157 73
11th POL Rafal Szukiel 15 17 16 10 -20 13 5 96 76
12th FIN Tapio Nirkko 20 23 17 4 4 -26 12 106 80
13th ESP Rafael Trujillo -35 7 11 16 16 27 4 116 81
14th AUS Anthony Nossiter 24 -28 12 23 12 3 9 111 83
15th NZL Dan Slater 32 11 7 (84.0 OCS) 19 6 16 175 91
16th FRA Jonathan Lobert 22 5 24 -27 13 18 20 129 102
17th RUS Eduard Skornyakov -54 14 22 9 24 25 8 156 102
18th ITA Giorgio Poggi 11 26 15 22 -29 14 15 132 103
19th FRA Ismael Bruno 7 21 23 29 6 -31 24 141 110
20th GBR Ed Greig 26 8 (84.0 OCS) 15 32 5 29 199 115
21st TUR Ali kemal Tufekci -62 22 18 17 25 24 14 182 120
22nd POL Piotr Kula 10 10 -41 14 26 30 37 168 127 Juniores
23rd IRL Timothy Goodbody 27 (84.0 BFD) 13 30 22 21 22 219 135
24th GBR Mark Andrews 31 33 26 11 28 7 -34 170 136
25th GER Jan Kurfeld 37 25 25 6 27 -44 18 182 138 Juniores
26th AUT Florian Raudaschl 30 20 28 -36 21 19 21 175 139
27th ITA Emanuele Vaccari 5 29 29 -47 33 38 13 194 147
28th CZE Michael Maier -52 30 21 37 15 23 23 201 149
29th ITA Riccardo Cordovani 21 19 36 35 31 (84.0 DNF) 17 243 159
30th CYP Haris Papadopoulos 39 (84.0 BFD) 46 31 11 20 19 250 166
31st SWE Bjorn Allansson -50 9 20 26 40 35 39 219 169
32nd NOR Peer Moberg 23 (84.0 BFD) 19 84.0 OCS 10 28 11 259 175
33rd CZE Rudolf Lidarik 17 24 30 38 -47 34 38 228 181
34th GBR Andrew Mills (84.0 OCS) 84.0 BFD 35 24 17 9 25 278 194
35th ESP1 Diego Fructuoso -51 27 34 34 38 42 28 254 203
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