I arrived in Qingdao full of pre-conceptions and restrained expectation. The venue had been variously declared as bad, very bad and diabolical. Its record of the necessary motive force, which was under suspicion from the first time that the Chinese announced that the sailing events would take place at this site – even the statistics supplied were of dubious value, threatens not to materialise every day. But on the day before the first races there was a nice little breeze.
Can we expect more?
The German forecasters were giving “little to nothing” although that was hardly news, or unexpected. They did however indicate that this state of affairs might last. With the Sailing Instructions allowing the Olympic Championship to be settled by one race, there is every chance that the medals could be devalued.
That could mean that the defending Finn champion could easily lose his title if he runs to his usual Olympic form. He said yesterday: “I look back on all the Olympics and I had bad first days at every single one of them – I don’t know if that’s just coincidence or something I’ve been doing wrong. Maybe I’ve been a little bit nervous going in to the event, a little bit uptight and not sailing my normal style – I don’t really know.”
Ben, however, has his own expectations and woe betide anyone who stands in the way of the sailor who has not been beaten at a Finn regatta since he won the gold medal in Athens. “I certainly would like to start off this event in better fashion that I have done in the past!” He has a scary way of tackling those who seek to de-throne him – ask Guillame Florent who he took for a ride in the medal race of the European championship.
The Ainslie approach may have changed: “I’ve tried with this event to be as relaxed as possible about the conditions,” he said, adding’ “I think you need to be for sailing here because you have so many ups and downs you’ve got to try and keep a level keel.”
There is little doubt of his expectations; I will keep my own in check until the second week, but I do hope those for the German legacy in Qingdao are not destroyed. Skol!