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9 August 2008, 09:39 am
2008 Olympic Sailing Competition Underway
Ben Ainslie in action
Defending champion Ben Ainslie got his campaign for gold off to a mixed start

2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Qingdao, China

The 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition got underway in Qingdao today with all four races completed and Poland and Great Britain the early leaders in the Finn and Yngling events respectively.
The Finn fleet got underway first with world #1 Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) leading around the first mark. A great downwind from reigning Olympic champion and red hot favourite Ben AINSLIE (GBR) pulled him up into the lead. However, the breeze dropped and shifted on the final run upsetting the order, with AINSLIE falling back to tenth and Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) jumping up from sixth to first ahead of American Zach RAILEY and Poland's Rafal SZUKIEL.

AINSLIE bounced back in race 2, seizing the lead after again showing superior downwind speed and holding off challenges from first RAILEY and then SZUKIEL to score victory. However with a third and a second place finish it is SZUKIEL who holds the overall lead, two points ahead of RAILEY (who eventually finished fifth in race 2), with AINSLIE third overall and a further four points back. Canada's Chris COOK completes the top five.

The surprise result of the day came from India's Nachhatar Singh JOHAL, who was a beneficial of the wind shift in the opening race to record a fourth place finish. Of the big names, Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE), Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED), Dan SLATER (NZL) and Peer MOBERG (NOR) all posted two high scores and already find themselves a long way off the lead.

Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON lived up to their billing as favourites in the Yngling fleet with a second and third place finish putting them in the overall lead. The Brits got off to a terrible start in the first race, but a storming final run saw them jump from 11th to second place. The Aussie team of Krystal WEIR, Karyn GOJNICH and Angela FARRELL won race 1, with the Russians in third.

The Dutch team of Mandy MULDER, Annemieke BES and Merel WITTEVEEN were runaway winners in the day's second race in a steadier 6 knot southeasterly breeze. They finished over 1 minute ahead of the second place team of Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI, with the Brits in third.

Overall that puts Great Britain into the lead on five points. The Canadian team of Jennifer PROVAN, Martha HENDERSON and Katie ABBOTT, who only qualified for the Games after New Zealand rejected their place, lie second overall, with the Dutch in third. The Chinese team of Xiaqun SONG, Yanli YU and Xiaoni LI got off to a solid start and lie sixth overall.

Full race reports to follow...

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