Emsworth’s Olympic sailor off to a solid start

Reigning Star class champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson pledged to keep plugging away after staging an impressive recovery to overcome the disappointment of an opening race 11th to sit fifth overall at the end of day one of the Olympic Regatta at Weymouth and Portland.

After a half-an-hour delay to the start of their first race – shifting winds making it difficult to set a course – the Brits got off to a promising start sitting in fourth place at the halfway stage.

But a massive wind shift caught the pair off-guard and as the French boat sailed through the fleet from last to first, the Brits seemed to go backwards eventually crossing the line in 11th.

However, if that result was a surprise race two saw the duo come out fighting.

After rounding the first mark in fourth the race become a battle of attrition with World Champions and fiercest rivals, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA). With the lead changing hands throughout the race both boats crossed the line neck and neck, even being given the identical time. However, victory was handed to the Brazilians in the photo, giving them the overall lead heading into day two.

Emsworth-based Percy said: “We were pretty disappointed with the first race. We were in quite a good position halfway up the second upwind leg and there was a big wind shift that we missed, that was our fault and the fleet turned inside out. We came back okay in the second but there is a long way to go. You know us we just keep plugging away.

“It was important not to have a bad second race so we were still in the hunt. There’s a long way to go and we have got to make no mistakes.”

Simpson added: “We got it wrong, we made a big mistake. It was very tricky and super frustrating which is the polite way of putting it. We were ahead, we were on the left-hand side of the course, and we knew it was happening but it didn’t quite click in our heads what was happening. We were actually a bit unlucky, the wind went wild, and we managed to get it all a bit wrong. The important bit is we were going well and we fought back.”

The boys are no strangers to first day battles, having finished seventh and 13th on the opening day of Beijing 2008 before they went on to claim Olympic gold. They admit although frustrated by their first race performance, race two has given them plenty of reason to feel positive.

Percy continued: “There is nothing you can do about what’s happened in the previous race or the previous leg you’ve just got to keep fighting from wherever you are. We will do that every race, whether it’s been a good race or a bad one.

“The finish in the second race was tight and we did really well and caught the Brazilians up a lot on the last leg. We’ve got quite a good speed edge downwind, which will prove to be useful as the week goes on, so that was pleasing.”

Racing in the Star class is scheduled to resume on Monday at 2.05pm on the Weymouth Bay West course.

The Olympic Sailing Regatta runs until August 11. The Star medal race is scheduled for Sunday, August 5 (1pm).

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