Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie, who has clinched victory at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Majorca, with a day to spare.
The 31-year-old has an unassailable lead of 26 points at the top of the Finn leaderboard heading into Friday’s final 10-boat double points-scoring medal race, in spite of posting his worst result of the regatta – a seventh – in the only race for the heavyweight dinghy class on Thursday (20 March).
Conditions proved tricky across Palma Bay, with Ainslie getting off to a less than ideal start and reaching the first turning mark in 30th place before picking his way through the rest of the pack to end in seventh, with the wind then becoming too unstable to hold the day’s scheduled second race.
In spite of his America’s Cup sabbatical, Ainslie remains unbeaten in the Finn since the Athens Games but is still modest about his latest achievement.
'It’s great that my results here have been good enough to win regardless of the medal race, but it’s always a lot tougher than it looks,' the five-times Finn World Champion explained.
'It’s been pretty difficult, with some quite tight racing and the way the Finn fleet is there are often such small differences separating the boats.
'But I’ve quite enjoyed the racing, and the conditions have been pretty good for me over the past fortnight that we’ve been out here,' he added.
Elsewhere across Palma Bay, the various Olympic classes experienced a disrupted day on the penultimate day of racing. The RS:X windsurfing fleets fulfilled their scheduled two races with Nick Dempsey firing in 2,1 to extend his lead to 15 points at the top of the table heading into Good Friday’s final showdown.
'It was very, very shifty out there today – you had to be really on the ball,' the Athens bronze medallist explained. 'But generally I think I sailed well today – I was fast, made no mistakes and went the right way, so it was a solid day.'
Bryony Shaw also had a steady day in the women’s RS:X event, with results of 2,7 to see her into the bronze medal position with just the medal race to run.
With no racing possible in the Laser and 470 men’s and women’s fleets on Thursday, the results remain unchanged – Paul Goodison and Nick Thompson top the tables for Skandia Team GBR in the men’s single-handed Laser event, while Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark head into the 470 women’s final in fifth place and within reach of the podium. Development squad sailors Hannah Mills and Katrina Hughes also make the cut, in tenth place.
Yngling World Champions Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson currently lie in third place behind the two Russian crews contesting their Olympic trials here in Palma, while Paul Campbell-James and Mark Asquith will be the sole British crew to feature in the 49er medal race – they’re currently in eighth place but out of reach of the medals.
Racing at the Princess Sofia Trophy-Mapfre continues through until Friday 21 March. http://www.rya.org.uk/