Ben ANSLIE (GBR) was back for his defence of the World Championship, and the perpetual Finn Gold Cup, which he won last year, and in doing so qualified his nation for a slot at the 2004 Olympic Games, but it was not going to be made easy for him.
Finn supremos such as world number one Sebastien GODEFROID (BEL), local sailor Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP), as well as the usual crowd of top ranked sailors such as Mateusz KUSNIEREWICZ (POL), Karlo KURET (CRO), Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE), and a host of others ready to mount a charge.
Following the necessary measurement and practice race, the fleet got underway for real on Wednesday 17 in ideal Levante conditions, and Ainslie mad a cautious but steady start. In the difficult conditions that the fleet were to experience for the rest of the week, the first day characterised what was happening with some of the big names struggling in the pack.
Godefroid showed no championship nerves as he went out to better Ainslie's start to finish the first day ahead of the results table. This was a position that unfortunately didn't last for him, as a couple of bad results on day two, and an OCS put him well out of the running and he ended up in ninth place.
Ben AINSLIE has known fellow British sailor Andrew SIMPSON since they were sailing Optimists from the age of seven. Both progressing through the sport by a similar route through Lasers they came together once again in the Finn class, and Olympic selection regatta for Great Britain. A superb string of results in the last few races that included two firsts and a second saw Simpson take the Bronze medal overall.
There was a fantastic battle between Ainslie and Trujillo all week, with one or the other always taking the lead of the championship and it came down to an epic final race in which Ainslie mounted a phenomenal comeback from 21 at the first mark with Trujillo in third. Gains all the way round the track and he eventually finished one place behind Trujillo to take the title.
Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) © Event Media
In the Junior Finn Gold Cup Marin MISURA (CRO) finished in 30th place, ahead of Edward GREIG (GBR) in 39th and Tapio NIRKKO (FIN) in 59th.
The eleven countries qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Regatta from the 2003 Olympic Regatta are: Denmark, Australia, Turkey, Netherlands, Slovenia, Canada, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, USA, New Zealand
They join Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Spain, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece as host nations, and Poland. There are a further five slots available at the Finn European Championships in La Rochelle, France next May.
To view the day by day reports for the Finn class follow the links below
Races 1 and 2, 17 September 2003
Races 3 and 4, 18 September 2003
Races 5 and 6, 19 September 2003
Finn Lay Day, 20 September 2003
Races 7 and 8, 21 September 2003
Races 9 and 10, 22 September 2003
Race 11 and Medal Ceremony, 23 September
Nations Qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta