Testing Times for Team GB's sailors on day 3

by RYA 
There were testing times on the water for Team GB’s sailors in Qingdao on Monday, with crews enduring mixed fortunes on this third day of the Olympic sailing regatta.

Ben Ainslie and the Yngling trio of Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson finished the day on top of their respective fleets, while Bryony Shaw’s first day of Olympic competition in the RS:X women’s windsurfing event sees her in third place after two races.

The Yngling girls once again got off to a conservative start in their first race of the day, picking their way through the fleet from tenth at the first mark to finish in third. Their closest rivals in this regatta are proving to be the Dutch trio of Mandy Mulder, Annemieke Bes and Merel Witteveen, who led the first race of the day from start to finish, with the two teams equal poised on equal points when the discard came in after race five.

But Ayton, Webb and Wilson nudged ahead with a second in the final race of the day to pull three points ahead of the Dutch heading in to their layday on Tuesday.

A smiling Ayton said of the day: 'It was a really tricky day but we started off, four fleet races down, six to go, knowing that we had to put in a solid performance and it definitely was that, so we’re feeling pretty cool now.'

'We are enjoying it,' she continued. 'We’re an awesome team and we get on really well, and when we hit the water we’ve got a job to do and we get on and do that.'

'We’re not thinking about the end result – we’ve just got to take each day as it comes,' Ayton explained, asked whether she’s already thinking her second Olympic gold is in within reach. 'We’ve got four races left in the fleet race, and then the medal race so we’ve got a long way to go. We’re sailing really well, we’re sailing strong as a team and all of us can’t ask for anything more than that.'

Triple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie also enjoys a rest day tomorrow, and goes into it as the leader of the Finn fleet, having replaced Zach Railey after today’s two races in the heavyweight dinghy class.

But although he picked up a win in the first race today, Ainslie was frustrated not to have gained a bigger advantage after posting tenth in the second race.

'It was a good race in the first, but I would have liked to done a lot better in the second so that was pretty disappointing. But still a long way to go, and it’s good to be at the right end of the fleet.

'It’s really just about finding a lane and finding some breeze and you can use your technique,' Ainslie explained. 'If you get stuck in the fleet like I did in that second race then it’s hard to make the gains.'

'The tide is almost twice as strong as anywhere else we sail in the world, and the breeze is very light, it’s very fickle and changing direction subtly, but it’s very important to pick up those subtle changes in direction.

'Everyone’s a bit up and down and it’s a case of when you’re not doing so well trying to pull back some places and make the race count.'

With the windsurfers joining the Olympic party today, Bryony Shaw put in a solid start to her regatta. She ends the day in third with results of 4,3 from her two races, with the Chinese sailor Jian Yin having the perfect opening scorecard of 1, 1.

'It’s just good to get off the blocks really,' said Shaw afterwards. 'I’m happy that I had conservative start but that I was able to come back through the fleet and take a few places. Hopefully I can improve on that tomorrow.'

In the men’s RS:X event, Athens bronze medallist Nick Dempsey is in 10th place with an opening day scoreline of 13,8.

Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes were unable to find the same form as they had on Sunday’s opening day of racing for the 49er class. Although the British pair saw solid starts, and were also bothered by a snapped mainsheet and tar on their centreboard, they struggled to find pace with 14,15,15 pushing them down to ninth place overall.

The 49er fleet also has a layday on Tuesday, leaving Morrison and Rhodes some time to analyse and regroup.

'I guess our timing wasn’t quite as good as it could have been in the boat together – we just seemed to struggle for a little yard of pace. I think that was the long and the short of it.

'We started pretty well, we gave ourselves a lot of options. If you looked at us 100 yards off the start in all the races we were next to people that went round the windward mark in the top five for most races, which is normally all we need to do.

'If we can be there off the start normally we’ll be somewhere at the windward mark but today we didn’t quite seem to convert that.'

It was a also tough opening day for the Team GB 470 pairings of Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark, and Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield who are in ninth and tenth places respectively in the women’s and men’s fleets after two races.

But Bassadone is remaining upbeat: 'It wasn’t the first day we’d have hoped for, but with the inconsistent women’s fleet we’ve got and a long way still to go, we’ve got to be ready to pounce on the opportunities and put today behind us.

'It’s a long regatta,' Clark added. 'Lots of people had ups and downs today so lots of opportunities still in the week to come.'

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