British sailing strength on show in Spain

Ben Ainslie has been leading the way in Spain
Ben Ainslie has been leading the way in Spain
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The pity of the Olympic sailing rules is that each country can have only a single entry in any of the 10 classes, so for Britain’s SkandiaTeam GBR there’s no chance of a Coe v Ovett-style face-off at next year’s Games.

But the strength in depth across the British sailing squad is on full view at the year’s second ISAF Sailing World Cup series event in Palma, Majorca this week, where no fewer than 57 team members are on the water hoping to match the fantastic 14-medal haul from the ISAF opener in Miami in January.

And nowhere is the inter-team rivalry more intense than the Finn class, where Team GBR is fielding its full squad at the Princess Sofia Trophy, with Olympic champion Ben Ainslie, World champion Ed Wright and Miami World Cup winner Giles Scott among those lining up against each other together.

At the halfway stage of the week-long regatta, Ainslie and Scott are separated by just one point.

‘Things are going okay so far, but it’s a really tough field here,’ the 34-year-old Ainslie explained.   

‘We’ve got 90 boats, we’ve got two fleets which is the first time that’s happened in the Finn fleet for a long time, so it’s a big competition.

‘There’s a lot of talent here and it’s tough racing.’

Beijing gold medal-winners Paul Goodison and Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson were also leading lead the Laser and Star classes respectively at the halfway stage.

Goodison advanced to the top of the Laser leaderboard on Wednesday, overtaking Australian rival, World champion Tom Slingsby, with a third and a first from his two races.

Just one point separates the two, with Skandia Team GBR’s world silver medallist Nick Thompson just another point behind in third thanks to a race win and a second today.

Nick Dempsey is keeping the pressure on in the RS:X men’s windsurfing fleet – he sits second overall after posting a 3,5 today.

In the women’s 470 fleet, Skandia Team GBR has three boats inside the top ten at this halfway stage.

Lee-on-the-Solent’s Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes are in overall fourth, development squad duo Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth are sixth and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are currently eighth in their debut World Cup event since teaming up in February.