by Lindsey Bell
At the 2012 London Olympic Games, Ben Ainslie said Jonas Hoegh-Christensen must have had 'a hotline to Paul Elvstrom' after the Danish sailor did his utmost to protect his fellow countryman’s Olympic medal record on day one.
Ainslie and Hogh-Christensen Finns Day One
Three-time Olympic champion Ainslie got the defence of his Beijing 2008 Finn title off to a solid start with two second places in today’s racing leaving him second overall.
But the day belonged to 2006 and 2009 World Champion Hoegh-Christensen who dominated proceedings with two bullets placing him at the top of the leaderboard.
If Ainslie, who also won Laser class silver at Atlanta 1996, wins gold at these Games he will become the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, eclipsing the feats of the Great Dane Elvstrom who won four gold medals between 1948 and 1960.
Ainslie said: 'Jonas did really well; I think he was on a hotline to Paul Elvstrom today. He had a really good start in both races, played the [wind] shifts really well and he sailed close to perfect so good for him.
'But it was a good start (for me). It was a tough day physically with the free pumping. I am reasonably happy for with two second place finishes.
'There are a lot of great sailors competing and Jonas and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (Croatia) had two third places so there is a long way to go before we can start picking out individuals who are going to be at the top so I’ve just got to keep pushing hard. There is a long way to go so we will see how we go tomorrow.'
In race one six-time World Champion Ainslie recovered from 10th place at the first mark to move up through the fleet to finish second, demonstrating his fearsome prowess downwind to make up the places.
Race two was simply about trying to claw back Hoegh-Christensen, who finished sixth at Beijing 2008. Again Ainslie’s downwind pace told but although he managed to take some 40m out of the Dane’s advantage, with Hoegh-Christensen building a lead of over 100m at one point during the race, the Dane made it two wins out of two.
Reigning Star class champions, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, pledged to 'keep plugging away' after staging an impressive recovery to overcome the disappointment of an opening race 11th to sit fifth overall after their first two races.
Despite a half-an-hour postponement to race one – shifting winds making it difficult to set a course – the Brits got off to a promising start sitting comfortably in fourth place at the halfway stage. But they got caught out by a big wind shift, almost seeming to go backwards at one point and eventually crossing the line in 11th.
However, if that result had been a surprise, race two saw the duo come out fighting. After a nail-biting neck-and-neck tussle with Brazilians Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada, both boats crossed the line with an identical time. But victory was handed to the Brazilians in the photo, giving them the overall lead heading into day two.
Percy said: 'We were pretty disappointed with the first race, we were in quite a good position halfway up the second upwind leg and there was a big wind shift that we missed, that was our fault, and the fleet turned inside out. We came back okay in the second but there is a long way to go. You know us we just keep plugging away.
Percy and Simpson GBR, Marazzi and Maria SUI, Star - London Olympics 2012 Day 1
'It was important not to have a bad second race so we were still in the hunt. There is nothing you do about what’s happened in the previous race or the previous leg you’ve just got to keep fighting from wherever you are. We will do that every race, whether it’s been a good race or a bad one.'
The Match Race Girls also got their first ever Olympics underway today, picking up one win over the Danish team of Lotte Pedersen, Susanne Boidin and Tina Gramkov before narrowly slipping to a second race defeat by the Spanish team of Tamara Echegoyen Dominguez, Sofia Toro Prieto Puga and Angela Pumariega Menendez.
Annie Lush said overall she and teammates Lucy and Kate Macgregor were pleased with their start.
'It was good to get the first day over and done with,' Annie admitted. 'It was great to get out there and we won a race and had another really close other good race. It was a good solid first day for us.
'I don’t think you can underestimate anyone here as it is top 12 teams in the world and anyone of them could go the whole way. I don’t think you can go into any race complacent and we battled hard. It’s going to be a long battle!
'It was a big day for starting, so we will look at that, but overall it was solid. We came back against the Spanish and closed it right back up and unfortunately didn’t get a final shift to overtake them but that’s all you can hope for in that kind of condition.'
Tomorrow sees the start of action for Beijing 2008 gold medallist Paul Goodison (Laser), Alison Young (Radial) and the 49er pair Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes.
Racing is scheduled to resume at 12pm tomorrow (Monday 30 July), with the Lasers and 49ers kicking off proceedings. The Olympic Sailing Regatta runs from Sunday 29 July – Saturday 11 August.
British Sailing Team website