by Bob Fisher
The domination of the Finn class by Ben Ainslie was completed in the medal race in a manner that brooked no argument. His authority was written all over this performance and the fleet trailed in his wake and one felt that the other nine knew their place. There was no real challenge to the supreme champion.
Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008.
The conditions were, frankly appalling. The start, after the Yngling medal race, was postponed as the visibility was too bad. A start was rescheduled for 1550 and with better visibility and 16 knots south-easterly breeze, the ten boats came to the line. Ainslie had kept a wary eye for Zach Railey, but the American was the lone starter in the second rank and Ainslie decided to sail his own race against the rest.
Working his way through the fleet in the first half mile as he had found clear air, he began to work himself away from the pack and by the first mark he was 12 seconds ahead of Guillaume Florent (FRA) and almost twice that of third placed Jonas Hoegh-Christensen. Uncharacteristically, he lost ground, but not position to the Dane downwind.
Upwind he ground the opposition away, stretching out to a 20 second lead by the final turning mark and cruised home. Soon after crossing the finish line, Ainslie shook his left fist in the air as a salute and produced his Union flag on its carbon fibre staff.
His job was completed; his third gold medal made him the most successful British Olympic sailor of all time.