London 2012 Olympics - Channelling the Great Dane
by Mark Chisnell on 31 Jul 2012
London 2012 - I'm not going to bury the lead - the headlines are all going to be about the battle in the Finns. Day two of racing at the London 2012 Olympic regatta and despite the 49ers kicking into action with some fantastic racing on the Nothe spectator course, it's hard to take your eyes off Ben Ainslie and Jonas Hogh-Christensen.
Jonas Hogh Christensen (DEN) - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition Thom Touw © http://www.thomtouw.com
Today will either be a pivotal day in the career of Ben Ainslie, when the crown finally slipped and a mortal human being was revealed. Or it will be one more setback overcome on the path to making Olympic history. We left the story after an extraordinary contest yesterday, with Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN) posting two bullets, Ben Ainslie (GBR) finishing second twice, and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) getting two third places - has that ever happened before? I doubt it, but however extraordinary it was, today's racing made it look average.
It opened ordinarily enough with Hogh-Christensen posting another good race to get a second place. Meanwhile, Ainslie looked a little out of sorts, and his upwind speed issues of yesterday appeared to be back, as he struggled to hold a lane off the leeward end of the line to windward of Zach Railey (USA). Ainslie wasn't compensating for it with anything quite so special downwind as we saw yesterday either, and he finished sixth - but hey, no one is perfect, not even Ben Ainslie. Or Jonas Hogh-Christensen.
The second race of the day started with the Dane spread all over the leeward end of the start line. He had to return, do the penalty turn and restart. Meanwhile, Ainslie had a solid if unspectacular start mid-line and mid-fleet and looked set to get all the points back on the overall leader and more; but that's not how it turned out...
Jonas Hogh-Christensen turned in the kind of performance that we're used to seeing from Ben Ainslie - he blitzed back through the fleet in spectacular style to finish seventh, passing and leaving Ainslie struggling in twelfth.
Hogh-Christensen is hot, he's channelling the great Dane, Paul Elvstrom and the ironies of another Danish sailor potentially stopping Ainslie from taking the master's record of four consecutive golds is too great to bear its own weight. Will it happen? Maybe.
I said yesterday that Hogh-Christensen couldn't rely on blitzing starts to get results all week, and I wasn't sure he could recover as effectively as Ainslie when he inevitably blew one - but he can, and he did. It's game on - Hogh-Christensen leads by seven points from Frenchman Jonathan Lobert, with Ainslie three points behind in third. I can't wait for act three tomorrow.