When news happens text pix and video to 80360. Start your message with BE then leave a space.
London 2012: Ainslie sets up gold medal showdown with Danish rival
7:00am Saturday 4th August 2012 in Sport
BEN Ainslie yesterday produced a tactical masterclass to put himself within striking distance of a record breaking fourth Olympic gold medal.
Lymington's Ainslie goes into tomorrow’s double points medal race two behind current leader, Jonas Hogh-Christensen (Denmark), knowing he must beat the Dane and finish in the top seven boats to win the gold.
Even if Ainslie finishes seventh and Hogh-Christensen is eighth, leaving them both on 42 points, the Brit would win gold as he finished in the highest position in that final medal race.
Dutchman Pieter-Jan Postma, currently third overall, could still claim gold if he wins the medal race, putting him on 44 points, and Ainslie and Hogh-Christensen finish in positions that give them a total of 44 points or more.
Ainslie scored a sixth and a first place yesterday to leave the medal race as a thrilling winner-takes-all showdown.
Ainslie said: “It was another tough day and it was quite breezy again. The first race was not good at all.
“Halfway through I was in a lot of trouble so I was pleased to pull things out of the bag down that final downwind leg and catch up very close to Jonas. I then managed to get it together for the final race.
“I have to say, after the first six races, I was starting to get a bit concerned, but I’m really pleased I have managed to drag this back.
“It’s going to be incredibly tough. Jonas is a fantastic sailor and is sailing really well so it’s going to be a huge battle on Sunday but I’m up for it and I enjoy those occasions.
“I’ve done a lot of work with my training partners on the Nothe medal course so I will be analysing the notes and things that we learned racing on that course. I might even speak to a couple of them and get the mind ready for what will be a huge battle.”
To give himself the best chance of gold going into the medal race, Ainslie went into the last two races of their series – races nine and 10 – yesterday knowing that he had to try to stay ahead of the Dane.
But things didn’t go to plan from the outset as he rounded mark one in 11th in the first race, with Hogh-Christensen seven places ahead of him. He eventually managed to reel in the overall leader with Ainslie finishing sixth in the race and Hogh-Christensen fifth, extending the Dane’s overall advantage to four points.
But Ainslie was back to his masterful best in race two, taking on the fleet from the start, getting himself into the lead and then, in an immaculate execution of race understanding and tactics, slowed down to enable Hogh-Christensen and Postma in the two chasing boats to catch him.
It was Ainslie’s intention to put an additional place between himself and Hogh-Christensen. By giving Hogh-Christensen dirty air, enabling the Dutchman to overtake Hogh-Christensen, Ainslie ensured that the gap going into the medal race was just two points. The plan worked to perfection.
Ainslie added: “It was pretty crucial that the Dutch sailor overtook Jonas to get that point in between, which puts us equal going into the medal race.
“It’s a good position to be in and it’s going to be a fascinating race.”