Qingdao Finn Race One and Two

Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. Emilios Papathaasiou (GRE) scooped a bullet in the opening race of the Finn series.

He might be ranked just 28th in the World on the ISAF Rankings, but reigning World Champion Ben Ainslie looked like he was going to put his stamp on the 2008 Olympic Finn class with an impressive win in the first race of the Qingdao regatta. However, today’s first race was not the stuff of fairy tales.

There was sunshine and light haze as the 2008 Beijing Finn fleet assembled on course A. The wind was a three to four knots easterly, with a course heading of 115 degrees, but an AP flag went up at 1300. There was yet another AP just as the fleet was lining up. Third time lucky, the course heading was still 115 but perhaps with a little more breeze.

Ainslie started seventh or eight from the pin and cleared to leeward. Conditions were soft in the middle which initially cost the World Champion, but he found more pressure on the right, crossing behind Haris Papadopoulos (CYP).

At the top mark, Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) led from Giorgio Poggi, (ITA), then Rafael Szukiel (POL). Followed by Eduard Skornyakov (RUS), Ben Ainslie (GBR), Pieter-Jan Postma (NED), Gasper Vincec (SLO), Daniiel Birgmark (SWE) and Papadopoulos (CYP). Zach Railey (USA) was 14th, followed by Australian Anthony Nossiter in 15th ahead of Dan Slater (NZL).

It was soft down the run, Hoegh-Christensen stayed on the left of course. Poggi lead Ainslie.

It seemed like a race winning run from Ainslie, who rounded a second ahead of Ivan Klakovic-Gaspic (CRO,) with Guillame Florent (FRA) then Emilos Papadopoulos (GRE). Railey (USA) was still back amongst the pack at 14th and Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) had fallen back to 18th place.

At the top mark for the second time, GBR led Michael Maier (CZE) who had climbed from ninth place. In third place was France, then Croatia, Sweden and Greece. Australia’s Anthony Nossiter climbed to seventh place. Zac Railey was 15th.

The last run was a nail biting drift, Ainslie had attempted to cover the fleet but the Greek sailor found puffs on the edge of the course, to sneak into the lead and amazingly Railey (USA) shot into second place, coming from the other edge.

Rafael Szukiel (POL) finished third. Fourth overall was Indian army sailor Nachhatar Johal with his best ever Finn race result.

Ainslie had attempted to cover the fleet behind him, but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory; he finished 10th, 61 seconds behind the winner and only just ahead of Nossiter, with New Zealand’s Dan Slater a disappointing 18th.

Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. Ben Ainslie in the opening race of the Olympic regatta.

Results Race One - Finn

1. GRE Emilos Papathanasiou
2. USA Zach Railey
3. POL Rafal Szkiel
4. IND Nachhater Singh
5. FRA Florent Guillaume
6. CRO Ivan Gaspic

However in Race 2, Ainslie proved you can never hold a champion down.

He recovered from his earlier forgettable race and went on to win Race 2 from Rafal Szukiel (POL), with Canadian Christopher Cook finishing third. Rafa Truijillio Villar (ESP) was fourth with Zach Railey (USA) fifth. Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) finished sixth.

Overall Rafal Szukiel (POL) leads, with Zach Railey (USA) second and Ben Ainslie (GBR) third. Christopher Cook (CAN) is fourth.

Zach Railey commented dockside ' I was well back at the second top mark, took a risk going away from the fleet, found a nice little puff, a little bit of luck on that one, but I will take it. Then in the second race I was on the second row and three or four boats had an early start and had to go round, so I had clear air. Overall its definitely nice to have a good start.'

Ben Ainslie was obviously relieved after the second race. He was reminded today this was his best ever start to an Olympic campaign. He said 'I am a little bit relieved after the second race, the first race was pretty disappointing. You just have to fight back.'

Results after Day One
1POL
Rafal Szukiel
325
2USA
Zach Railey
257
3GBR
Ben Ainslie
10111
4CAN
Chris Cook
8311
5FRA
Guillaume Florent
5813
6ESP
Rafa Trujillo Villar
12416
7CRO
Ivan Kljakovic-Gaspic
71017
8SLO
Gasper Vincec
91120
9DEN
Jonas Hoegh-Christensen
16622
10BRA
Eduardo Couto
61622
11ITA
Giorgio Poggi
17724
12FIN
Tapio Nirkko
18927
13GRE
Emilios Papathansious
12728
14IND
Nachhatar Singh Johal Johal
42428
15CZE
Michael Maier
151429
16CYP
Haris Papadopoulos
131831
17SWE
Daniel Birgmark
141731
18AUS
Anthony Nossiter
112233
19NED
Pieter-Jan Postma
191534
20IRL
Tim Goodbody
221335
21VEN
Johnny Bilbao
261238
22NZL
Dan Slater
211940
23TUR
Ali Kemal Tufekci
202141
24RUS
Eduard Skornyakov
242044
25CHN
Peng Zhang
252348
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