London 2012 : Sailors ready for ‘Super Sunday’ in Weymouth
Saturday, 04 August 2012
Tomorrow is ‘Showdown Sunday’ as Ben Ainslie and the Star duo of Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson take on the challenge of claiming British sailing’s first gold medals of London 2012 at Weymouth and Portland (Sunday 5 August).
Ainslie has been involved in a ding dong battle for supremacy with the Dane Jonas Hogh-Christensen all week but the pair go into their final double points showdown race with just two points separating them, meaning it really is winner takes all.
Meanwhile, knowing that they already have a minimum of a bronze sewn up, Percy and Simpson go into their final double points’ showdown race with an eight point advantage over nearest rivals, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA).
Gold for Ainslie would guarantee his status as the greatest ever sailing Olympian, eclipsing the record of Denmark’s Paul Elvstrom, currently the most successful Olympic sailor ever with four golds from 1948-1960. Ainslie is already Britain’s most decorated sailor with one Laser class silver at his first Games at Atlanta 1996 and three golds at Sydney 2000 (Laser), Athens 2004 (Finn) and Beijing 2008 (Finn).
If the British Star boys do claim gold it will be Iain Percy’s third, the 36-year-old having won his first Olympic title in the Finn class at Sydney 2000. Ainslie is the only Brit to have achieved the same feat of three Olympic sailing golds to date. It would be Simpson’s second gold having won in the Star with Percy in Beijing.
The Star is scheduled to be the first of the two medal races taking place on the spectator Nothe course at 1pm with the Finn medal race following at 2pm.
What do they need to do?
Finn: Ainslie sits two points behind current leader Hogh-Christensen (DEN). To win gold he has to beat the Dane and finish in the top seven boats. Even if Ainslie finishes seventh and Hogh-Christensen is eighth, leaving them both on 42 points, the Brit will win gold as he finished in the highest position in that final medal race. Dutchman Pieter-Jan Postma, currently third overall, could still claim gold if he wins the medal race, putting him on 44 points, and Ainslie and Hogh-Christensen finish in positions that give them a total of 44 points or more.
Star: With every point worth two in the medal race, fourth place or better tomorrow will guarantee the Brits gold. Meanwhile the Swedes, as well as the Brazilians, can also still win gold. If Percy and Simpson finish seventh they are vulnerable to both Brazil and Sweden. In that circumstance Brazil would need to be third or better to claim gold while Sweden would have to win the race.
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park says people are right to be excited about the mouth-watering prospect that looms.
He said: “Ben is coping with the pressure very well, I think of all the sailors in that Finn fleet he has had to deal with a lot of pressure and expectation for a huge number of years now. He will cope with that pressure very well and it will be interesting to see how the Dane really deals with that. I would certainly still back Ben to the end and it will be a very interesting start. I think the start and first leg of the Finn race on Sunday is going to be quite intense.
“Iain and Bart have got a few points cushion so they have got a far better chance, so long as they are in touch with the Swedes and particular the Brazilians, even if they are behind, they will win the gold. They have quietly gone about their business, part of that is due to the media wanting to focus on the battle between the Dane and Ben, but if Iain wins, which I’m sure he will, it will be his third gold medal.
“That immediately puts him into an elite group of athletes across all sports. To win three gold medals across three Games is a fantastic achievement in terms of longevity of performance at the very top end of your sport.
“Andrew will also become a double Olympic gold medallist if they can convert on Sunday. We must remember with all the media interest around Ben, that these guys aren’t forgotten. They are amongst the best sailors in the world and will be amongst the most decorated sailors in the World if they win gold on Sunday.”
The Olympic Sailing Regatta runs from Sunday 29 July – Saturday 11 August. Follow the British Sailing Team at London 2012 at www.rya.org.uk/london2012
RYA London 2012 Press Office
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Last Updated ( Saturday, 04 August 2012 )