Legend Ainslie makes bright start to gold bid with second place in opener

 

Three-time gold medallist Ben Ainslie was content after securing second-place finishes in both of Monday’s opening races in the Finn class.

The 35-year-old is the undoubted star of Great Britain’s sailing team and the bookies’ favourite to top the Finn podium.

Ainslie has previously struggled at the beginning of Olympic regattas, but he flourished on home waters, finishing both races second to Denmark’s Jonas Hogh-Christensen, who he joked was buoyed by the wisdom of countryman Paul Elvstrom — a man Ainslie would overtake as the most decorated Olympic sailor should he win gold.

Solid start: Sailing star Ben Ainslie took second place in the opening race of the Finn class

Solid start: Sailing star Ben Ainslie took second place in the opening race of the Finn class

‘It was a good day,’ said Ainslie, who won silver in 1996 before scooping a gold at each of the past three Olympics.

‘They were tough conditions out there, especially on the Nothe Course (in the first race).

‘There were very shifty winds but it was a good start. It was OK, but there is a long way to go.

Poised: Ben Ainslie can be happy with his second-place finish in the opening race

Poised: Ben Ainslie can be happy with his second-place finish in the opening race

‘I think Jonas was on a hotline to Paul Elvstrom. He sailed fantastically so all credit to him. We’ll see how things develop.’

There are another eight races for Ainsley to catch up with the Dane before the medal race on Sunday.

Meanwhile, British pair Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson recovered from a difficult start to end the day in fifth place overall in the Star class.

The reigning gold medallists finished the first race in 11th, but responded superbly to end the day’s final session in the top two.

Hard at work: Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson recovered from a bad start

Hard at work: Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson recovered from a bad start

After some confusion over the final result, victory was awarded to Brazil’s Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada.

‘We thought we were ahead but it sounds like it was unbelievably close or we need to look at it,’ Simpson said.

‘It’s a bit annoying if we didn’t beat them but it is a good marker for the rest of the week.’