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Displaying items by tag: Ben Ainslie

#sailingonsaturday – Captain Cool of Carlow is the Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailor of the Month" for July. Captain Cool is Finn Lynch, winner of the Silver Medal at the Youth Worlds 2012, and he's just sixteen. So maybe it would be more correct to refer to him as Cadet Cool. But as his style of winning - staying mentally calm and finishing in control of the race - is something that many much older sailors could usefully emulate, we'll acclaim him as Captain.

In fact, the entire country, afloat and ashore, could learn from his way of doing things. But how does a young lad from Bennekerry in the depths of north county Carlow come to be setting a national sailing example? Well, his father Aidan (a Dub) acquired a taste for sailing during ten years in Australia. Then back in Ireland his mother Grainne took up a job offer in Carlow, than which there is no lovelier county in Ireland.

The family settled there in Bennekerry, which as Aidan cheerfully admits is the middle of nowhere even by Carlow standards. But as it's in the north of the county, lake sailing at Blessington wasn't so very far away, and the three boys - Ben, Rory and young Finn - were introduced to sailing with the Topper fleet at the hospitable Blessington Sailing Club, where Aidan stood his watch as Honorary Treasurer.

All three emerged as top class sailors, and their Topper skills were soon noticed. Each in turn graduated into sailing the Laser Radial, and that led on to the subtle recruiting moves from Dun Laoghaire. The word is that it was Con Murphy of the National Yacht Club, father of Olympian Annalise, who was the talent scout in this case, and the Bennekerries found themselves sailing with the NYC star junior squad.

Even by those standards, Finn was something special. He'd been racing Toppers since he was eight, he was into Lasers in his teens and earlier, and now at sixteen he's proven world class, with three clear years of international youth sailing in front of him.

At the moment thanks to his Silver Medal, Finn Lynch is sailing in Denmark at a youth elite regatta in Aarhus, then it's on to the Euopean Youth Championship in Belgium at mid-month, and after that......well, after that, Captain Cool goes back to school.

The nail-biting classes are doubling their numbers by the minute as the Annalise Murphy challenge battles on through he sailing Olympics. It's deadline in two days time, with the double points scoring Medal Races bringing it all to a conclusion. For once, Baltimore Regatta on Bank Holiday Monday will have to accommodate itself to a lower slot on the national sailing scale.

Meanwhile in the Finn Class we can enjoy a majestic gladiatorial contest without an excruciating depth of personal involvement, as it's the battle of the Ben of Britain and the Great Dane reaching its conclusion tomorrow.

Ben Ainslie's 2012 Olympics got off to a terrible start with one mediocre performance after another, by his standards anyway, while Jonas Hogh Christensen of Denmark was putting in a showing matched only by Annalise Murphy in the Women's Laser Radials. But by Thursday, Ainslie was making a comeback, having made the throwaway comment that missing out on the Gold wouldn't be a setback, it would be a disaster.

Ben analysts wonder if this means that his contract with the America's Cup 2013 (which he takes up immediately after this Olympiad) is dependent in any way on his performance at Weymouth. Stranger things have happened. Be that as it may, it's battle to the death tomorrow, after less than harmonious scenes yesterday and on Thursday.

Thursday saw the Dane and Dutch helm Pieter-Jan Postma shout to Ainslie that he had hit a mark. He took the penalty turns but afterwards was in a real strunt about the whole business, claiming there had been no contact. When Ainslie has one of his moods, it's awesome, and the Dane in particular was upset.

Then in yesterday's second race, Ainslie was leading with the Dane second approaching the finish. Ainslie slowed back in his classic style to sit on the Dane and allow the Dutchman through to second, with the result of GB first, Netherlands second and Denmark third making it very close indeed for the up-coming medal races. The Dane still narrowly leads on points, but the number crunchers are already working out all the possible permutations which can provide another Ainslie gold.

asgard2nixon

Asgard may have been small for her role as a naional sail training vessel, but she definitely punched above her weight in racing success.

Next week, Erskine Childers' Asgard is put on permanent display in her conserved form in Collins Barracks. John Kearon and his team have done a wonderful job in the painstaking task of saving as much of the original as possible while capturing the spirit of the gallant ketch which Childers sailed to Howth in July 1914.

As one of the finest creations of the Norwegian designer and shipwright Colin Archer, the 1905-built Asgard is of international importance over and above her role in Irish history. But in the midst of all this, let us not forget that between 1969 and 1974 she served as Ireland's first sail training ship. She was too small, she was too old, yet she did her very best, and thanks to the skill of Archer's design, she achieved some notable racing success in her brief sail training career.

During those five years under the command of Eric Healy, more people – including many young trainees – would have sailed on Asgard than in all the rest of her sailing life. It meant a lot to them, it meant a lot for Irish sailing. Forty years on, they will appreciate this new display in Collins Barracks even more than the rest of us. Just the job for a day out on the travel pass. Photos of the restored Asgard at the museum

W M Nixon's sailing column is in the Irish Independent on Saturdays

Published in W M Nixon

##benandrita – Ben Ainslie has a lot of expectation sitting on him this summer. If he wins a fourth gold in Weymouth he could make history and become the World's most successful Olympic sailor since sailing was introduced at the 1900 Games in Paris.

Every boat Ben has ever owned has been called Rita, and his current Rita is very special. Having sailed her since 2003 she has won two gold medals – no easy task for an old girl! To do their bit to support Ben in the massive challenge ahead, the British Finn Association and J.P. Morgan Asset Management are asking you to show your support for Ben and Rita by tweeting a message of support with #benandrita.

Bens spare 'Rita' is currently on tour and you can see her on display at the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall 2nd – 20th May. It's an interactive display on which you can use iPads to tweet your support for #benandrita.

The display then moves to London. Ben and Rita will be at Canary Wharf station on Monday 21st May and Exchange Square, Liverpool Street station on 22nd May.

You can meet Ben and Rita at the following times:

Monday 21 May – Canary Wharf Station, 1200 – 1400 and 1700 – 1830

Tuesday 22 May – Exchange Square, Liverpool Street, 1200 – 1400 and 1700 –

1830

#benandrita Port and Starboard socks

Exclusive #benandrita Port (left) and Starboard (right) socks have been created to encourage people to show their support for Ben and Rita. Some of the British Finn Association members have sported a pair of the red and green socks whilst competing at the Finn World Championships in Falmouth.

Andy Dennison Chairman of the British Finn Association is keen to get the country behind Ben and Rita. "Ben is a great ambassador for sport, sailing and in particular the Finn Class – we're keen to get the nation behind him and his boat Rita in this key period. The socks are a bit of fun which we hope will catch on and get people out buying red and green socks this summer."

How you can show your support:

Twitter: You can show your support by tweeting a message of support to Ben @ainslieben followed by #benandrita

Facebook: Or post a photo or message on Ben's Facebook page www.facebook.com/benainslie1977

There are 100 pairs of socks to give away in the coming weeks, follow www.facebook.com/benainslie1977 for you chance to grab a pair

Published in Olympics 2012
Tagged under

#BEN AINSLIE – British sailing superstar Ben Ainslie will face no further sanction for an incident last December when he boarded a media boat to confront the crew at December's World Championships an RYA Tribunal has concluded.

There was speculation the RYA could move to prevent the triple gold medal winner from competing in the London Olympics with a further sanction.

The RYA Tribunal met on 9 February 2012 to consider a report dated 14 December 2011 received pursuant to the Racing Rules of Sailing Rule 69.1(c) from the International Jury at the ISAF Sailing World Championships held in Perth in December 2011.

The Tribunal agreed with the decision of the International Jury that the behaviour of Mr Ben Ainslie amounted to a gross breach of good manners and conduct that brought the sport into disrepute.

Having considered all the evidence put before it, the Tribunal was satisfied that it would not be appropriate for the Tribunal to impose a penalty over and above that imposed by the International Jury at the event.

In reaching its decision the Tribunal acknowledged that the effect of the penalty imposed by the International Jury was to deny Mr Ainslie the possibility of taking part in the medal race for the event.

The Tribunal also recognised that there was an apparent lack of active management of media boats at this and previous events leading to repeated infringements of the provisions of the event media boat guidelines. In addition, formal rights of redress against official boats were not available to competitors.

The Tribunal noted that it had had an opportunity to view evidence that was not available to the International Jury during the hearing at the event.

The RYA, as the ISAF Member National Authority for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has jurisdiction under Rule 69.2 to take action in response to reports made to it under Rule 69.1 relating to British sailors and the Council of the RYA has delegated its authority in such matters to the RYA Tribunal.

Reactions to the decision from Ben Ainslie and Stephen Park, RYA Olympic Manager, are as follows:
Ben Ainslie:

"I welcome the RYA Tribunal's decision and am looking forward to fully focussing on my Olympic preparations. I deeply regret the incident, but would like to thank all the governing bodies involved for their thorough investigation."

Stephen Park:

"The Tribunal report will now go to ISAF as is standard practice, but from a Skandia Team GBR perspective we're all keen to take on board lessons learned and put the matter to bed.  As we have said from the outset, it's regrettable that the incident occurred in the first place, but we're grateful that the Tribunal recognised the mitigating factors and are relieved to be able to now move on and focus on the task of preparing for Ben's bid for a fourth Olympic gold this summer.
"We're grateful for the support and openness of all parties involved as we all try and take the opportunity to learn from the incident and improve future interactions as sailing looks to enhance its media exposure and accessibility."

Published in Olympics 2012
Tagged under

#BEN AINSLIE – As Britain's sailing superstar awaits a hearing with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) over the incident at the World Championships in Perth last December, the consensus in the electronic media is that he has been hard done by and blame should be attributed to the media boat that caused the wash that was at the centre of the row. While quite a few of the commentators believe that the two race disqualification for gross misconduct that cost Ben Ainslie the World Championship is more than adequate punishment, Water Rat sees some similarities with soccer star Eric Cantona's transgression in 1994 that resulted in 120 hours community service and an 8 month ban from the sport.

To re-cap, Cantona was sent off in a Manchester United v Crystal Palace game for a kick on a Palace defender. As he reached the sideline Cantona launched himself into the stands and kicked a supporter in a kung-fu style following up with a series of punches. Cantona was arrested and convicted for assault, but the original two week sentence was overturned and replaced by 120 hours of community service.  His team, Manchester United, suspended Cantona for the remaining four months of the season and he was fined £20,000. The Football Association increased the ban to eight months and fined him a further £10,000. Football's International body, FIFA confirmed the suspension as worldwide.  Cantona also lost the captaincy of the French team.

The International Jury found as fact that Ainslie had committed an act of physical aggression, that was not only a gross breach of good manners but also brought the sport into disrepute.

The Football Association's statement is worth quoting: 'The members of the FA Commission are satisfied that the actions of Eric Cantona following his sending-off at Crystal Palace in the Manchester United match on January 25 brought the game into disrepute. Eric Cantona has therefore been in breach of FA rules. After taking into consideration the previous misconduct of Eric Cantona, the provocation he suffered, the prompt action taken by Manchester United, Eric Cantona's expression of regret to the Commission, the apologies he conveyed to those affected and the assurances he gave to his future conduct, the members of the Commission decided that Eric Cantona should be suspended forthwith from all football activities up to and including 30th September 1995 and in addition fined £10,000.'

It is worth noting that Ainslie also apologised, but his reaction to the Jury's decision was to criticise their reaction. RYA's Olympic Manager also denied that an assault occurred.

Respected sailor, sailing author, judge and America's Cup umpire  Brad Dellenbaugh commented:  "It's interesting to see the spin, particularly from the RYA. While not condoning Ainslie's actions, it seems they are trying to lay this at the feet of ISAF for inappropriately trialing new television initiatives at the Worlds, then at that feet of the Jury for not letting the Championship be determined by the sailors on the water. The chance to win his sixth Worlds was taken away from him.

What fails to get mentioned is that he WAS winning the Worlds despite getting screwed by the wake. Stay in his boat; win the Worlds. The reason he didn't win the Worlds is because he couldn't control his anger and he boarded another boat. Period! I wonder how Elvstrom would have reacted."

The RYA Tribunal will now consider the incident and the sailing world will be fascinated to see how they deal with Ainslie. RYA's own guidance to Race Officers rates physical or threatened violence as 4-5 on a scale of 1-5.

Despite the apparent overwhelming sympathy it is difficult to see how RYA can avoid further sanction in this case. The question probably is what is an appropriate penalty.  Given the strength in depth of Britain's Finn sailors, a ban of Cantona-like proportions would not cause great damage to GBR's prospects, but many would feel that denying (for the time being anyway) Ainslie's opportunity to become the greatest sailing Olympian would be too harsh.

Ainslie won the British trials comfortably securing the nomination almost a year in advance. Maybe a re-trial would be a just punishment, opening the door a crack for Giles Scott and Ed Wright.  For Ainslie, being asked to prove himself again might not be much more than an inconvenience, but the message sent by the Tribunal would clearly state that no person, however great their stature, is beyond reproach.

Published in Water Rat
10th December 2011

Ainslie Goes Overboard in Perth

#PERTH2011 – British Olympic poster boy Ben Ainslie has been disqualified from both of today's Finn races in Perth, dashing any chance of a much sought after world title in the run up to the Olympics.

The three time Olympic Gold Medallist Ben Ainslie (GBR) boarded a media RIB covering the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championship and Ainslie is alleged to have 'grabbed' a cameraman.

benainslie

Ben Ainslie ashore in Perth - Photo: Ocean Images

An ISAF press statement just released says:

"Following today’s incident with Ben Ainslie (GBR), a hearing was heard by the International Jury under Racing Rules of Sailing 69.".

The International Jury’s decision is: GBR 3 is to be scored DGM for Races 9 and 10.

This means that Ainslie is disqualified from Races 9 and 10 and those scores cannot be excluded.

Britain's sailing superstar had just finished second to Dutch sailor PJ Postma in the first race of the day.

The Perth Now website says a 'confrontation' on board the media boat arose because Ainslie had been angered by the media boat creating a wash that aided a rivals.

He jumped from his craft, swam to the media vessel and climbed aboard.

After the incident Ainslie dived off the bow of the RIB and swam back to his abandoned dinghy.

Photographer Mick Anderson captured the incident.

The whole sequence of pictures can be seen here

Perth Now has more on the story here as has The Telegraph here

Comments from the British Camp:

- Stephen Park, RYA Olympic Manager:
Clearly this is a disappointing position for Ben and of course for the team. It's particularly disappointing bearing in mind that all parties that spoke at the hearing all effectively said exactly the same thing. Everyone accepted that there was fault on both the side of the television production crew and indeed on Ben's side. Unfortunately because of the situation we were in, with the sport trying to move to better television images to appeal to that market, sometimes there's a learning process to go through from a television perspective and sometimes there are implications and this is an example of one of those.

Both parties, the television side and Ben have both apologised to each other and as far they're concerned we're ready just to go back out and get on with our respective jobs tomorrow.

It's particularly disappointing that this Championship has effectively been determined in this way in the jury room rather than between sailors on the water.

There have been various rumours in the media about Ben having 'assaulted' the driver of the boat. As far as we're concerned there wasn't an assault which took place, and as far as the driver was concerned that was part of his statement to the jury so we're pretty keen to put that to bed and recognised that that's a bit of over exaggeration and sensationalism.

While we accept the penalty from the jury and do not condone Ben's behaviour, i would hope, on the basis of the jury's facts found, that it is recognised that lessons need to be learned both from the side of the International Sailing Federation as organising authority as well as the sailors. At the moment the sport seems to be fumbling its way into trying to make the sport more appealing for television but surely there is a better way than trialling new race formats, rule regulations and specifically in this case media initiatives than trialling them at the World Championship which is arguably the most important event in the Olympic cycle outside of the Games themselves.

Ben Ainslie:
I overreacted to what I thought was a situation where I felt my performance was being severely hindered. I'm very thankful that everyone involved has taken it how it was - as something which was blown out of proportion in terms of what actually happened. We've all apologised to each other and are looking forward to moving on.

I'm obviously really disappointed with the decision. Unfortunately it's part and parcel of the sport trying to develop its area within TV and in a number of instances this week that line has been crossed and that's something which everyone has to accept is a development.

I'm very sorry that the jury decided to react the way they did over something which really wasn't as big as it was blown up to be. It's very disappointing that the Championship has been decided this way. I've worked extremely hard over the last six weeks and have been training incredibly hard to get to this position in a venue which has been difficult for me with my size against the bigger sailors. I feel like I've actually sailed one of the best regattas of my life so to be in this situation now is very disappointing but I certainly hope now that it's one of the British boats on top of the podium if it can't be me.

Published in Olympics 2012
The road to 2012 glory has just got one step closer for some of the nation's top sailors who today became the first British athletes to be officially selected to compete for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Ben Ainslie, the triple Olympic gold and silver medallist and Britain's most successful Olympic sailor, heads the list of 11 athletes confirmed by the British Olympic Association as being on the startline at Weymouth and Portland for next year's sailing events.

Sailing is the first of the 26 Olympic sports to have officially selected any of its athletes, with the 11 sailors revealed today at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, competing across seven of the ten Olympic classes and representing a mix of both established Olympic medallists and first-time Olympians.

TeamGBR_M1249

Picture shows L-R Skandia Team GBR sailors Stephen Park (Olympic Team Manager, Kate Macgregor (Womens Match Racing), Hannah Mills (470), Lucy Macgregor (Womens Match Racing), Bryony Shaw (RSX), Ben Ainslie (Finn), Nick Dempsey (RSX), Andrew Simpson (Star), Iain Percy (Star) Annie Lush (Womens Match Racing) and Saskia Clark (470).

Ainslie, 34, has earned the right to race for his fourth Olympic gold in 2012, gaining selection in the heavyweight Finn dinghy event, while Iain Percy will aim for a third gold in total and a second in partnership with best friend Andrew Simpson in the Star class with whom he won the Olympic title in Beijing.

Paul Goodison will look to defend his Laser class crown on his home waters of Weymouth and Portland, while Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw will look to build on their respective Olympic bronze medals in the RS:X Men's and Women's windsurfing events (Dempsey, Athens 2004; Shaw, Beijing 2008).

The 2010 World Championship-winning trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor have earned the nod to race at their first Olympic Games in the Elliot 6m Women's Match Racing event – a new event on the 2012 programme – with Lucy and Kate the first two sailing sisters ever to compete for Great Britain at the Olympics.

A whirlwind seven months after teaming up and following a string of podium finishes, Olympic debutant Hannah Mills and Beijing Olympian Saskia Clark have earned the confidence of the Royal Yachting Association selectors in the 470 Women's event. Mills joined forces with Clark in February 2011 following the retirement of Clark's former helm Sarah Ayton.

Selection trials are ongoing in the remaining three Olympic classes – the 470 Men, the 49er and the Laser Radial events. Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt commented:
"This announcement is a key milestone and an exciting and important moment for us - it represents the beginning of the creation of Team GB, Our Greatest Team of approximately 550 athletes. Having the first athletes confirmed for Team GB for the London 2012 Olympic Games is fantastic. The eleven sailors are a good mix of experience, including six Olympic medallists, as well as promising Olympic debutants who are World or European medallists in their own right.

"There is certainly some fierce competition within sailing and there are no free passes to compete for Team GB in any sport in London 2012. In fact, in terms of overall depth and talent, we believe Team GB in London 2012 will be the most competitive British Olympic Team in modern history. Our aspiration for Team GB in London 2012 is to win more medals across more sports than for
over a century."

RYA Olympic Manager/Team GB Sailing Team Leader Stephen Park added (from Helensburgh, Scotland): "We're delighted to be announcing the first sailing members of Team GB. All the sailors selected today have had a fantastic year of performances which has resulted in them gaining selection at an early opportunity, allowing them good time to focus their campaigns specifically on the challenges of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour in preparation for the 2012 Games.

"The mix of experience we have with the six Olympic medallists, one Olympian and four first-time Olympians provides an exciting balance that will hopefully deliver the required results in 2012 while at the same time increasing the pool of 2016 Olympic triallists."

Ben Ainslie said (born: Macclesfield; grew up in: Restronguet, Cornwall; currently living in: Lymington): "It's an honour to be selected to compete for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics.
This qualification process was definitely the hardest compared to the previous four I've been through. The previous experiences helped, but at the same time having the Olympics in the UK puts that added bit of pressure on, we all want to compete on home waters, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"The competition was strong, having four top British sailors (Giles Scott, Ed Wright, Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews) battling for qualification meant I had to be at my best in every race. Certainly that is a credit to those guys, how well they were sailing and how they pressured me all the way in every event. At the same time pressure has always brought the best out of me and the competition with the British sailors gave me that added edge in competition. It's now all about getting the plans right for my fitness and preparation to peak at the right time, you don't want to reach burnout and
the Olympics are the end goal!"

Paul Goodison commented (born/grew up in: Sheffield; currently living in: Weymouth, Dorset): "It feels really good to have been selected early for the 2012 Games – I know it's still 10 months away but for me it's really important that selection's out of the way so I can start to focus on what I need to do to put myself in the right position to deliver in 10 month's time.

"This will be my third Olympic Games – it's going to be very different to the last two but with a home Olympics I'm sure it's going to be an advantage to be on home waters with a home crowd. We spent a lot of time training out there in Weymouth and hopefully this will pay dividends next year.

"Winning the Games in China was just an amazing experience for me – from the lows of finishing fourth in Athens to then winning the gold medal in China was fantastic. I can only imagine what it would be like to repeat this feat again in Weymouth with my family and friends there on British waters – it would be an amazing experience so I'm looking forward to 2012."

Bryony Shaw said (born: Wandsworth, grew up in: Oxford; currently living in: Tunbridge Wells): "For me this will be my second Olympics, and it's exciting that I've been able to keep on improving. It's amazing to be part of such a strong and special team and to feel the vibe that we're all focussed and confident with the task ahead.

"To earn my selection by winning medals in Weymouth was the main focus for me and it's given me great confidence to have been able to do that, and gives me a great feeling that I can perform there. My windsurfing has transformed, everything is on track and we're pretty confident that there are some more gains to be made on the physiological side."

Nick Dempsey added (born/grew up in: Norwich, Norfolk; currently living in: Weymouth, Dorset): "It's great to have gained selection, but really it's just another step on the way. You still get the feeling that it's the start of the build-up, and little things like starting to get your bits of Olympic kit are quite exciting and bring home how close it's getting.

"This is my fourth Olympics, and this one is just everything to me. It's the one – the Games that I've been waiting for my whole life. You're never going to get better than winning an Olympic medal on home waters. I've performed really well in Weymouth this year but there are still some big gains to be made, so everything for me is about preparing for Weymouth and
fine-tuning everything – learning more, getting fitter, stronger and faster."

Lucy Macgregor said (born/grew up in/currently living in: Poole, Dorset): "It's pretty exciting, and it's great to be part of such a strong team. Gaining selection feels like the next step on the road, and the start of more hard work ahead of us. None of the three of us has any Olympic experience, so we don't entirely know what to expect, but we're confident in the plans we have in place and we can learn from the other members of the team and from our coach Maurice on that side of things.

"We have some more training time ahead of us in Weymouth this year, but the next big competition for us is the World Championships. For the other nations it will be vital for country qualification so the competition will certainly be tough, and will give us the chance to race against the best teams and see what else we need to work on."

Kate Macgregor added (born/grew up in/currently living in: Poole, Dorset): "It's really exciting to be selected – it didn't hit me for a few hours after I'd heard as we were off sailing, but it's really exciting and makes everything that little bit more real now!

It's our first Olympics, but being part of such a great team and having all these people around us with Olympic experience that we look up to means that it won't be such a scary thought.

A medal is our ultimate goal and we have the potential to achieve that – we've just got to keep working hard over the winter and throughout next year and hopefully will things will continue to fall into place for us."

Annie Lush said (born/grew up in/currently living in: Poole, Dorset): "It took a while for the news to sink in! Even though we haven't had a clear competitor in our trials, I have been trying for eight years to make it to the Games so to have that finally confirmed is an exciting moment.

"There's a lot of work still to do – the goal is not just to go, but to go and win a medal, and gaining selection makes you realise how close it all is. It's our first Olympics, so the key will be trying to predict what those unique challenges of the Games will be and preparing for them. We'll be trying to learn from the others within the team, and our coach as well, who already have that experience, and the Test Event was a real learning experience for us in that regard.

"It would be a massive, massive achievement to win a medal next year and an amazing marker of the best part of a decade of hard work that went into it."

Iain Percy commented (born/grew up in: Winchester, Hampshire; currently living in: Emsworth, Hampshire): "That's the first hurdle over, but really ever since Beijing we've been focussing on 29 July 2012 and all the hard work over the past few years has been to make sure we're in the best possible shape come that day.

"I'm really proud to be representing Team GB at my fourth Olympics. It's every athlete's dream to win an Olympic medal at home – it's a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we'll be giving it our all to be up there on the podium again next year."

Andrew Simpson added (born/grew up in: Chertsey, Surrey; currently living in: Sherborne, Dorset): "It's a real privilege and a special moment to be selected for the London 2012 Games, but selection alone is not enough – it's just a means to an end. We want to be there on the startline in 2012 with a real shot at retaining our gold, so everything we've been working on since Beijing 2008 has been geared to towards optimising our racing, our equipment and ourselves towards the challenges we expect from Weymouth as a venue."

Hannah Mills said (born/grew up in: Cardiff; currently living in: Portland, Dorset): "I didn't believe it when I first heard the news – although we'd had a great few months and some fantastic results since teaming up, I'd built it up in my mind that our trials would be carrying on so it came as a big surprise.

"Things were all looking a bit different for the both of us seven months ago, so to be given this chance is really, really exciting, but really it's just a stepping stone on the way with lots of hard work still ahead of us.

The Test Event was a great eye-opener in terms of how things might be at the Games. We've been given this massive task and now we just need to sort out all our plans so we're in the best place to achieve it."

Saskia Clark added (born/grew up in: Colchester, Essex; currently living in: Weymouth, Dorset): "I'm so pleased and relieved! We've had some really good results since teaming up but didn't know if it was enough. I'm so pleased for Hannah as this will be her first Olympics and we've had a good start to our campaign with much more, we feel, still to come.

"It was a dark time for me back in February [when Sarah Ayton retired] but Hannah and I gave it everything in the time we've had. When we teamed up we knew we didn't have a lot of time, and our aim was to do enough to try and push the trials on to Perth or further. We surpassed our expectations winning medals in all but one event we've done together, but there's a huge amount of hard work still to do and I know that a lot of the other girls will come back stronger next year."

Sailing's 2012 legacy is already in action, proven by a number of youth attending the team announcement. These youngsters are part of the RYA's OnBoard (OB) programme to introduce sailing and windsurfing as a sport for young people. The children are all year 6 pupils from the Jubilee Primary School, located in the London Borough of Hackney, which is one of the five London Olympic Boroughs. Over ten years, OB is working to introduce half a million children into sailing and windsurfing. Jubilee Primary School attends regular sessions at the North London RYA OnBoard Centre based at Stoke Newington Reservoir Centre and has exchange visits to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing venue.

Published in Olympics 2012

After last weekend's Sailing World Cup Regatta in Medemblik, Holland the Irish Olympic sailing squad is back on the water in five days time for the next round of the Cup, this time at the 2012 Olympic venue itself and the Skandia 'Sail for Gold' Regatta in Weymouth.

Expectations are high that Ireland can be in the medals in England not least because Ireland qualifed for three medal races last week and last year Peter O'Leary won Gold in the Star class in Weymouth.

Over 1,000 sailors, including a number of World and Olympic champions, will be competing in Weymouth, Great Britain, the venue of the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Great Britain's Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott and Ed Wright have dominated the Finn class during the 2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup.

The British trio have been at the top of the podium on every occasion. Ainslie won Sail Melbourne, Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE and the Semaine Olympique Française, Scott won US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR and Wright won the Delta Lloyd Regatta last week.

But it is Ainslie who leads the Finn Standings on 79 points ahead of Scott, on 71, and Wright on 66. All three will sail in Weymouth alongside some equally impressive sailors in the form of the World #1 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO), World #2 Zach Railey and Spain's Rafael Trujillo.

However it is hard to see anyone defeating the Brits who have dominated the class since the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup in 2008-2009 which has seen Wright crowned ISAF Sailing World Cup Finn Champion on two occasions.

Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) reclaimed the top spot in the Men's 470 Standings after clinching gold at the Delta Lloyd Regatta. The World #1 Australians have a 17 point lead over Panagiotis Kambouridis and Efstathios Papadopoulos (GRE) in second. World #5 sailors Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (FRA) trail the Australians by 18 points in third.

The top three will all sail in Weymouth but it is a tough ask for anyone to overhaul Belcher and Page who have a strong lead with just two ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas remaining.

Eight points separate the top five in the Women's 470 ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings.

Despite not sailing in Medemblik, Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes (GBR) retained their lead at the top of the Standings on 54 points. But Delta Lloyd Regatta runners up Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata (JPN) trail the Brits by three points and will look to make up the ground on the World #3 pair at Skandia Sail for Gold.

Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Evi Van Acker (BEL) are tied at the top of the Laser Radial Standings on 69 points each. They will renew their rivalry in Weymouth but with the top ten in the Standings all set to compete, and the third place Veronika Fenclova (CZE) within touching distance of the leaders the gold medal is far from a foregone conclusion.

The 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta will also welcome the top ten in the Laser Standings. The standout performer this year has been Tom Slingsby (AUS) who has been on the podium in the four ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas he has sailed in. He has a 14 point lead over Javier Hernandez (ESP) in second and a 20 point lead over Nick Thompson (GBR) in third.

In the Paralympic classes the top three in the 2.4mR, SKUD-18 and Sonar ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings will compete.

Racing begins at the 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold on 6 June and will run until 11 June.

Published in Olympics 2012

Despite light and shifty sailing conditions which brought mixed results for most leaders, during the fourth racing in the Princesa Sofia MAPFRE competition, Ben Ainslie in the Finn class and Dorian van Rijsselberge in the RS:X, were able to sail to a perfect day claiming victories in the day's races.

Dun Laoghaire's Annalise Murphy lies sixth overall in the Laser Radial class after another strange day on the water. Her results here

Ryan Seaton and Matthew McGovern's 49er campaign got a boost with a race win in the gold fleet in race 12. They are 20th overall. Results here

Ben Ainslie (GBR) increases his lead over Giles Scott (GBR) in second and places 24 points from Thomas Lebreton (FRA), third overall. Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) is eleven points ahead of Nick Dempsey (GBR) and twenty from Gold Medallist Tom Ashley (NZL) in the RS:X.

The day's tricky conditions distributed high scores to all the favourites and with two more races on Friday, the top ten places for the medal races not a done deal yet.

Defending champions, Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis (FRA) are keeping the lead in the 49ers despite mixed results which include a victory, 10 and 20. Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello (ITA) are gaining a place in second after three top ten places and carry a good lead over third. It could have been a perfect day for the British duo of Dylan Fletcher and Alan Sign (GBR). They score a fifth and a second, but a penalty on the start force them to count 19 points.

Mixed results also collected for French 470 teams who share top placing despite collecting their worse race results today. Nicolas Charbonnier and Jérémie Mion (FRA) are conserving the lead without winning a race yet. They struggled in the first race and took third in the second. Three points behind, last year regatta winners Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garros (FRA) read the wind differently with a second in the opening race and a 28th in the second.

"The wind was unstable and tended to favour the left. The last race was long and difficult. In the end we scored a good race and may be back on the podium so not so bad in the end." explained Leboucher and Garos.

The Greek team of Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis are third. Races victories went to Panagiotis Kampouridis / Efstathios Papadopoulos (GRE) and Gideon Kliger / Eran Sela (ISR).

The women in the 470 class suffered the same fate with all top teams collecting high scores.

"It was a very exhausting day." explains the Israeli team of Cohen and Vered, who narrowly slip into first place overall after a 22 and a 12. " We usually are in the top ten at the windward mark. Today was another story, we struggled in these conditions and had to go with the fleet in the middle to try to gain places. We kept gaining and losing so in the end it was quite stressing. Anyway, the other top girls have also collected a bad race so it makes our day look better! The score is very tight so with two races tomorrow before the medal race, it is like we start all over again."

Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Barber (NZL) won the first race but followed the trend with a high point second race. They are in second, only two points from the Israeli. Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata (JAP) lost the lead after scoring their worse results so far. But with only five points from first, anything remains possible.

Marina Alabau is enjoying the conditions in Palma, with another good racing day. The Andalucian is conserving her lead in the RS:X fleet, six points from Charline Picon (FRA). They share today's victories. Third place goes to Italy but Alessandra Sensini has stepped down from the podium, replaced by Laura Linares (ITA).

With Paul Goodison (GBR) collecting top points for braking the start, Tom Slingsby (AUS) is reclaiming the lead in the Lasers. The Australian has sailed to top 6 results and is going into tomorrow's final races with a good advantage. Nick Thompson is third, one point only from Goodison and five from Slingsby. Best results (2-1) in the Gold fleet today were taken by Sam Meech (NZL) who climbs from 10th to 4th.

In the Laser radial, Paige Railey (USA) loses the lead for Evi van Acker (BEL). The American wins the first race but has to carry the 28 points collected in the second race and drops to third overall five points from the new leader. Veronika Fenclova (CZE) climbs to second overall.

Olympic Gold medallists Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) are increasing their lead in the Star class after winning a race. New faces are coming to the top with Andrew Campbell /
Ian Coleman (USA) in second and Diego Negri / Enrico Voltolini (ITA) third.

"There was very little wind out there today, it was pretty hard going. We didn't feel we got it right today, but somehow we seemed to still have a good day. We were not very lucky out on the course, but we fought back really hard and are pretty pleased to have extended our lead." says Percy.

The top three remain in place in the 2.4. Thierry Schmitter (NED) and Heiko Kroger (GER) shared today's best results with a first and a second. They are increasing the gap over Megan Pascoe (GBR).

The Women's Match Racing fleet at the 42nd Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE has now been reduced to the top eight teams. The morning saw the completion of the Repechage Group to see who would advance to the Quarter-Finals with the Gold Group. Anne-Claire Le Berre (FRA) and Stephanie Hazard (NZL) were 1-2 in the group with scores of 4 wins and one loss each.
Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) continued her unbeaten streak through the Gold Round Robin and won the Gold Group to earn the chance to sail against the second place team for the Repechage (Hazard) in the Quarter-Finals. The other pairings for the Quarter-Finals are Claire Leroy (FRA) vs. Anne-Claire Le Berre (FRA), Silja Lehtinen (FIN) vs. Silke Halbrock (GER), and Lucy Macgregor (GBR) vs. Sally Barkow (USA). Th first team in each pair to score 3 points will advance to the Semi-Finals.
After two flights of the Quarter-Finals, Tunnicliffe leads Hazard 2-0; Le Berre and Leroy are tied 1-1; Lehtinen leads Hahlbrock 2-0; and Macgregor and Barkow are tied 1-1.
Tomorrow will see the completion of the Quarter-Finals and the Semi-Finals in the Women Match racing and the final races for the other classes. Last chance to qualify among the top ten for Saturday's medal races.

Published in Olympics 2012

Sailing in Palma today, Dun Laoghire's Annalise Murphy had mediocre results compared to yesterday's stellar opening round, dropping her from second overall to 14th in a fleet of 78 boats.

The second day of racing in Palma offered the 1000 sailors racing in the 10 Olympic classes and the 2.4 paralympic event, tricky conditions with moderate and shifty winds. Today's races were sailed in opposite wind directions, with the remaining North-Easterly opening the day but replaced in the afternoon by the expected sea breeze. The committee was able to complete a race for all classes in both winds in moderate conditions averaging 10 knots.

The British team capitalised on yesterday's results to take top placing in three classes.

Olympic Gold medallist and Sailing World Cup leader, Ben Ainslie (GBR) claimed today's races and the lead in the Finn class in front of team mate and earlier leader Giles Scott (GBR), and Pieter-Jan Postma (NED). In the other group the races went to Australian Brendan Casey coached by Finn medallist, John Bertrand (USA) and by junior sailor Jorge Zarif (BRA) coached by Robert Scheidt brother and ex-coach Thomas Scheidt.

Bronze medallists in the 2011 Rolex Miami regatta, Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell add two more victories to their score in the 470 men fleet and climb from 6th to 1st overall. Nick Rogers and Chris Grube (GBR) remain in second overall, three points ahead of Australians Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page.

"The racing was good today, the forecast was right. We started in the offshore wind and came back with the sea breeze. There were different styles going on so it was good to train, keep your eyes out and keep sailing to all the changes going on around you." explained Luke Patience.

Despite winning a race yet, consistent racing brought Nick Dempsey (GBR) in top place in the RS:X fleet. Beijing Bronze medallist, Shahar Zubari (ISR) got to second while Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) drops to third after suffering in today's conditions. Today's races went to Mashia Nimrod (ISR) and 2008 Olympic champion, Tom Ashley (NZL).

With a total of five races sailed in the event and tricky conditions close to the shore in Palma, the 49ers fleet has collected high scores. The Sibello (ITA) brothers are back on the international circuit after the Sail for Gold regatta. The 2009 European champions are in good form winning two out of three races. They claim the top place four points from early leaders Dylan Fletcher and Alan Sign (GBR).

The Princesa Sofia defending champions, Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis (FRA) are taking third overall.

The Japanese AI Kondo and Wakako Tabata (JAP), are conserving the first position in the 470 women fleet with top five results collected in diverse conditions in during the last two days. The Japanese have been training in Palma for the last three weeks with some of the top teams.

"We used to be lacking speed in the breeze but our intense training in Palma has paid off on Monday. We were able to master the breezy conditions and continue with good results today. Lots of other top teams have changed crew like the Dutch or the British so it does give us an advantage." declared Ai Kondo.

The Sail For Gold winners are only two points from Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Barber (NZL) who claimed today's races. The Princesa Sofia regatta is the first event together as a team for Joe and Bianca who stand in for Polly Powrie who is recovering from a bike crash! The new composed team who has been training together for six days only before the event is collecting great results.

"There was a lot less wind than yesterday. The conditions were good for us. We had lots of fun!" says Aleh.

Australian Tom Slingsby conserves his lead in the Laser fleet with top three results so far. However the day was perfect for Olympic Champion Paul Goodison (GBR) who took two bullets and climbes to second overall only five points from the World Champion. Julio Alsogaray (ARG) is in thrid after winning the day's first race and placing fifth in the next.

In the Radial, Paige Railey (USA) has collected four second places to lead the fleet in front of Marit Bouwmeester (NED). Tania Calles (MEX), Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR), Gintare Scheidt (LTU) and Cecilia Saroli (ARG) all win a race today.

The RS:X women fleet has a new leader with Marina Alabau (ESP) racing consistently to a fourth and a second placing: "I am happy with my day, the wind was difficult, light and shifty. I stayed fourth during the whole first race and started the second in the same position but was able to catch up two places and pass Blanca before the finish."

Alessandra Sensini (ITA) didn't perform in the lighter conditions adding twenty points to her score today. She is now in second position overall. Charline Picon (FRA) who had suffered from equipment failure in Monday's windy races, was undefeated today with two bullets. She seats in 12th position overall but could come up in the front when the discard comes in.

Mateus Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL) win the first race and claim the lead in the Star in front of Percy/Simpson (GBR) and Scheidt/Prada (BRA). The Italian team of Diego Negri and Enrico Voltolini (ITA) win the second race to place fifth overall.

In the 2.4m, Thierry Schmitter (NED) is keeping the lead in the ten boats fleet after collecting another first and a third.

After a long day on the water Stage One was completed for the Women's Match Racing at the 42nd Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Advancing to the Gold Group are the three undefeated teams (Lehtinen, Barkow and Tunnicliffe) and the three 2nd place teams in each group (Leroy, Hahlbrock, and Macgregor).  They will sail a round robin to determine the seeding of the Quarter-Final Knock-out series.

Fighting for a chance to join the Gold Group in the Quarter-Finals are: Skudina, Roca, Groeneveld, Souter, Le Berre, and Hazard. They will sail a round robin with the top two advancing.

The remaining 12 teams will continue racing in the Silver and Bronze groups to determine places 13 through 24 in the event.

Racing will resume on Wednesday at 10am for the Women match racing and 11am for the other classes.

All our Olympic news HERE

Published in Olympics 2012
ISAF announced the male and female winners of the 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards are:
Blanca Manchon (ESP) and Tom Slingsby (AUS).
Blanca Manchon was nominated for the third time this year and had her family and friends with her at the Awards ceremony here in Athens. "This is really fantastic," said a radiant Manchon on stage as she accepted her trophy and her Rolex timepiece. "As this is my third nomination for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award we were all hoping this would be it... and here I am! I cannot believe it. I worked very hard to get here but I'm young - only 23 years old - so I hope I continue to do many things and maybe I will see you again here someday."
Tom Slingsby could not make it to Athens for the ceremony due to electrical storms over Sydney that grounded international flights. Slingsby was surprised when his phone call to "discuss laser sailing", turned into a live announcement from HRH Prince Frederik of Denmark, announcing that he had won the 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award. "Wow, thank you!" said Slingsby. "I just remember sitting on the rocks in Sydney harbour watching the Olympics. I remember seeing people like Ben Ainslie and Robert Scheidt, two former winners of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, and thinking, "I want that, that's really what I want to do." To be considered among them today is really an incredibly big honour."
The ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award is the highest award a sailor can receive in recognition of his/her outstanding achievements. The Awards are presented annually based on a worldwide selection process that incorporates an open invitation to nominations, followed by a vote amongst the 130 member nations of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).
The Awards have been held every year since 1994 and past winners include Peter Blake (NZL), Ellen MacArthur (GBR), Robert Scheidt (BRA) and Russell Coutts (SUI). In 2009 the Awards were presented to Torben Grael (BRA) and Anna Tunnicliffe (USA).
www.sailing.org/worldsailor
Published in World Sailing
Page 3 of 4

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