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Sailing - 06. June 2011.

Patience put to the test on day one of SkandiaSail for Gold

It was a testing first day at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta (6 June), with light and fickle wind conditions giving rise to race postponements and a long opening day at this ISAF Sailing World Cup event.

In what is a crucial regatta for many international crews with aspirations of making a return to the Weymouth and Portland waters for next year's Olympic and Paralympic regattas - Skandia Team GBR's sailors included - there was a tense wait on shore until early afternoon when the wind built sufficiently to allow racing to get underway.

When it did, all eyes were on the host nation's triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie to see how he would fare on the opening day on home waters against a tough fleet, including strong domestic competition in the form of last year's Skandia Sail for Gold winner Giles Scott, and World Champion Ed Wright.

The heavyweight dinghy class was among the last of the 13 Olympic and Paralympic fleets to get racing on Monday, with Ainslie overcoming a fraught start to the race during which he felt impeded by one of the media boats, and an uncharacteristic error in sailing the course to secure a second place in what became their only race of the day.

New Zealander Dan Slater took the race win, with Skandia Team GBR's Giles Scott sixth, Mark Andrews seventh and Ed Wright ninth.

"I had a really good race with Dan - I was just ahead of him at the windward mark and I pulled away from him a bit down the first reach and on the second run I couldn't really get it going and he caught up a bit," Ainslie explained.

"Then I made quite a big error going to the wrong gate and that give him a bit of a jump. I pulled up a little bit but I couldn't quite get it back. So it was a bit frustrating to give up the lead but other than that it was a solid result considering everything that's gone on today.

"In the end the conditions were OK. It took a long time to get to that point and there were a few other things that were a bit frustrating but I guess it was as we expected it would be. It would have been nice to have won the race but I don't think I can complain at the result."

Nick Dempsey saw a solid start to his regatta in the RS:X men's windsurfing event, picking up a fourth and a race win from his scheduled two races to see him in third overall.

The Weymouth resident admitted to feeling nervous at the start of his home regatta at the site where he won his World Championship title in 2009.

"You never quite know what to expect do you? It's been a couple of months since my last regatta and this is one of my important ones this year so I really want to do well here this week. Today was a really, really good start and I'm very happy," Dempsey explained.

"The wind in the harbour always seems to be a bit better than the wind out in the bay and luckily we're racing in the harbour this week so we're quite fortunate with the conditions.

"Today was always going to be a really important day because it might be our only light wind day so it's really important to get a good solid start and there are going to be a few people with some big scores today that are going to be in contention at the end of the week. We had 7-9 knots which is full body breaking conditions - I broke myself, put it all in and it paid off."

Nick Thompson is also third overall in the Laser fleet with a second in their only race of the day, while Olympic Champion scored eighth to sit 14th after the first race.

Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor saw the perfect start to their women's match racing assault, winning all four of their opening Group C round robin matches, while John Pink-Rick Peacock and Paul Brotherton-Mark Asquith made the best of the conditions in the 49er fleet to sit in fourth and fifth overnight after three races.

"It was a relief to get out there and get racing," admitted Brotherton. "There's nothing worse than sitting around on the first day of a regatta but it always seems to happen that way!

"It was tricky - the breeze was certainly not consistent. We didn't get a break in the first race but we got some breaks in the second and you've got to make the most of those when they come your way."

Charlotte Dobson picked up third in the sole race of the day for the Laser Radial class, while Nic Asher is the top placed British boat in the 470 men's event, in 10th overall. There was confusion in the first race for the 470 women's event, with Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes among seven boats disqualified after being adjudged to have sailed the wrong course. Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark were 2,21 on the water today.

Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing 22nd in the opening race for the Star class, while Bryony Shaw is in 18th overall with two ninth places from the RS:X women's two races today.

In the Paralympic fleets, Skandia Team GBR's Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are in third behind two Australian crews in the SKUD event, the Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas are fourth overall, while a race win for Megan Pascoe in the second race for the 2.4mR class made up for a 12th in the first race to see her into seventh at the close of the opening day.

For the full line-up of Skandia Team GBR sailors in action and the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, and the latest news and information from the British camp, visit www.skandiateamgbr.com or follow us on Twitter (@skandiateamgbr ).

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