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9 August 2005, 02:27 pm
AINSLIE On Top Form
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Finn European Championship 2005
Kalmar, Sweden

In only his second regatta in the Finn since winning Olympic gold in Athens, Ben AINSLIE (GBR) has made a dominant start at the ISAF Grade C1 Finn European Championship in Kalmar, Sweden. After two bullets he has opened out an eight point gap at the top of the leaderboard.
At the ISAF Grade 1 Holland Regatta in Medemblik in May AINSLIE thrashed the field, winning by 21 points after an eight race series. After two races and two bullets in Sweden he has already opened up an eight point lead as he seeks to regain the European title which Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL) took from him last year. Although KUSZNIEREWICZ is now competing in the Star, there are still plenty of challengers capable of upsetting the successful Brit, not least the new number one in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) and Olympic silver medallist Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP), who had a dominant win at the recent ISAF Grade 2 Intervela.

So far though it is the runner up at the Intervela, Marin MISURA (CRO) who has proved the toughest competitor, with finishes of 7 and 3 putting him second. Sweden's Daniel BIRGMARK has also made a good start and lies tied third on eleven points with TRUJILLO. Winner of the ISAF Grade 1 Kieler Woche Gasper VINCEC (SLO) is fifth with HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN, yet to get fully into his stride, lying sixth overall after a ninth and seventh place.

The top ten is completed by Peer MOBERG (NOR), ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française winner Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE), Waclaw SZUKIEL (POL) and Edward WRIGHT (GBR).

The day's two races took place in rainy conditions with a medium strength wind blowing straight across the channel between Kalmar and the island of Öland, making for some very technical racing with gusts and shifts. The first race saw the top ten boats shifting positions up to the finish with AINSLIE eventually coming in ahead of Dan SLATER (NZL) and Vladimir KRUTSKIKH (RUS).

The wind increased gradually from ten to twelve knots at the start of the second race and the race committee shifted the course away from the channel and changed from a windward leeward to the Olympic triangle course. After two general recalls, the black flag was hoisted as well as Oscar (the Finns favorite flag!). The wind had already increased to 15 knots providing the sailors with perfect sailing conditions. First at the top mark was MISURA who secured his place only to be passed by AINSLIE and PAPATHANASIOU on the last leg.

2004 European Junior Champion, Olexiy BORISOV is now 22 years old and has had to step down from the Junior division where nine sailors will be racing for the title. Currently the highest of the junior competitors is Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) in twelfth place overall, whilst Tapio NIRKKO (FIN) is second junior and 18th and Zach RAILEY (USA) 28th and third junior.

Nine races are scheduled for the Championship with one discard to come into consideration after race five. Racing continues through until Sunday. Similar conditions are expected today with only one race scheduled.

Top Ten After Two Races

Pos Nation Helm R1 R2 Pts
1 GBR Ben AINSLIE 1 1 2
2 CRO Marin MISURA 7 3 10
3 SWE Daniel BIRGMARK 6 5 11
4 ESP Rafael TRUJILLO 5 6 11
5 SLO Gasper VINCEC 11 4 15
6 DEN Jonas HØGH-CHRISTENSEN 9 7 16
7 NOR Peer MOBERG 4 17 21
8 GRE Emilios PAPATHANASIOU 22 2 24
9 POL Waclaw SZUKIEL 12 15 27
10 GBR Edward WRIGHT 13 14 27
ISAF (source: Corinne McKenzie). Image, Ben AINSLIE follows Daniel BIRGMARK round the second mark:© eurofinn2005.org
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