Ben Ainslie is on the verge of becoming the greatest Olympic sailor of all time after yesterday getting the psychological edge over leader Jonas Hogh-Christensen.
The 35-year-old came into London 2012 as overriding favourite to top the Finn podium – a result that would see him replace Denmark’s Paul Elvstrom as the Games’ most decorated sailor.
Ainslie, though, has faced fierce resistance from Elvstrom’s countryman Hogh-Christensen, who has led the fleet from the outset and on Thursday irked the home star by claiming he hit a mark – something the Briton strongly denied.
The three-time gold medallist promised revenge and delivered yesterday in the final of the 10 fleet races, slowing down in the final upwind leg after a storming start in an attempt to affect then second-place Hogh-Christensen.
The Dane struggled with the bold move and was overtaken by the Netherlands’ Pieter-Jan Postma, who held on to second to cut Hogh-Christensen’s advantage heading into tomorrow’s medal race to just two points.
“I had a pretty sizeable lead in the race and it was really important for me that the Dutch sailor was able to get past Jonas,” Ainslie said. “I did consider trying to facilitate that but you’d have to go quite far back.
“In reality it was too risky as if something had gone wrong and I’d lost those boats, I’d look pretty silly.
“The Dutch sailor sailed really well and got past so that evened things up.”
Britain’s Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson are guaranteed to end London 2012 on the podium and head into tomorrow’s medal race well placed to retain their Star class gold.
The Olympic champions of four years ago have an eight-point lead over second-place Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada after the 10 opening series races.
Rotherham’s reigning Laser gold medallist Paul Goodison endured a tough day, with an 18th and 12th leaving him eighth overall.