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11 May 2008, 10:36 pm
AINSLIE Comeback Secures Finn European Title
2008 European Champion Ben AINSLIE

Finn European Championship 2008
Scarlino, Italy

Reigning Olympic Champion Ben AINSLIE showed his class with a bullet in the Medal Race to win the ISAF Grade C1 Finn European title.
A fantastic Medal Race-performance secured victory for Ben AINSLIE (GBR) in Maremma. Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) finished second overall second with overnight leader Guillaume FLORENT (FRA) dropping back to third. The Junior Finn European title was won by Jan KURFELD (GER).

Winds from 240° at 10-12 knots ensure a superb show on the water for the Medal Race in Scarlino. It turned out to be a day when everything went to plan for the reigning Olympic and World Champion, after an unforgettable race in Maremma's crystal blue waters. AINSLIE, who was eight points behind FLORENT and therefore had to finish at least three boats ahead of him in the Medal Race, dominated from start to finish, winning by over a minute on his opponents on a 30-minute course.

The pre-start was a nail biter with AINSLIE hunting down FLORENT from the get go. AINSLIE managed to corner the Frenchman into the left hand corner during the pre-start and in the last minute was able to have a penalty inflicted on his opponent, although he collected one himself at the same time. Having offloaded the penalty, AINSLIE started at the centre of the line with good speed. It all happened in under a minute.

The remainder of the race was history. At 14:15 after the wind had finally settled from the southwest, the Race Committee presided by Carlo TOSI fired the start gun. AINSLIE sprinted away, keeping in check the fleet and his direct opponent FLORENT who finished the race in eightth place. Croatian KLJAKOVIC GASPIC secured the second spot on the European Finn Championship podium and French FLORENT finished third. Throughout the Championship AINSLIE outclassed his fellow competitors and is now the prime candidate for the Olympic gold.

AINSLIE talked about the start of the race: "The wind came in very quickly and so did the start. From the get go my plan was to give Guillaume a hard time in the pre-start as I needed to get a few points on him. We had a few incidents where I was on starboard and he on port, but the Jury decided to give me a penalty anyhow. At the end it worked out fine because it distracted him and I was able to start in the middle of the line with good speed."

AINSLIE then spoke about the week in Maremma stating: "On the whole it was a great week, but with very shifty and changing conditions. It was good training for what the situation in Qingdao will be like."

After the Medal Race, reserved to the top ten, the rest of the fleet competed in race 9 and Norwegian Peer MOBERG was the winner.

In the Junior Championship, German KURFELD won the gold, followed by Piotr KULA (POL) silver and Tomas VIKA (CZE) Bronze.

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Results - click here

Robert Deaves
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