Racing commenced at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta today in Qingdao, China. Kiwi Dan Slater was on the water in the 26 strong heavy weight dinghy class – the Finn.
Dan Slater heads out for the opening race in the 2008 Olympic Regatta
Slater sits in 22nd place overall at the end of day one after placing 21st and then 19th in today’s challenging light air conditions. While Slater didn’t perhaps return the results he was looking for on day one – the experienced kiwi will know that it is early days for the Finn fleet with a further five days of racing over the coming week.
Rafal Szukiel of Poland has the overall lead after the first two races of the eleven race series, with one of the youngest in the fleet Zach Railey of USA holding second place in the standings. Hot favourite Ben Ainslie lies third.
Finn Race One
Slater opened his Olympic campaign with a 21st place in a light wind race which tested the most seasoned of Finn sailors.
After one delayed start due to lack of wind the first race of the 2008 Games got underway at around 1:30pm local time in a south easterly breeze of around six knots which fell away to four knots as the race concluded. Hoegh-Christensen of Denmark took the early lead rounding mark one first, but the formidable force of Ben Ainslie took over the lead soon after.
Ainslie looked for much of the opener like he was going to start with a bullet, but the race was somewhat turned on it’s head in the final leg and the gold medal favourite representing Great Britain let nine boats slip past him to finish 10th.
When asked what happened Ainslie explained, 'The wind just shut down. There was quite a big shift, and when you’ve got the tide against you like that. The separation between the boats was so much that a shift like that makes a huge difference. There were nine or ten boats that came from the other side and passed me – there were quite a few place changes going on.'
It was 35 year old Emilios Papathanasiou of Greece who took the gun in the first race, scooping victory on the last leg and starting his fourth Olympic Games in dream fashion.
Finn Race Two
Race two for the Finns was started around 3:10pm off Qingdao, the south easterly breeze sitting at around six knots.
Ben Ainslie fought back to join the leading pack after rounding mark one in 10th place in the second race of the regatta, and managed to go on and secure a win ahead of Szukiel of Poland.
Provisional Top Five Overall Standings after day one
1st POL Rafal Szukiel - 5 points (3, 2)
2nd USA Zach Railey - 7 points (2, 5)
3rd GBR Charles Benedict Ainslie - 11 points (10, 1)
4th CAN Christopher Cook - 11 points (8, 3)
5th FRA Guillaume Florent - 13 points (5, 8)
22nd NZL Dan Slater - 40 points (21, 19)
Full results visit the ISAF Olympic Games http://www.sailing.org/