x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Olympics: Danish sailor will try and protect compatriot's legacy

Hogh-Christensen's aim is to deny rival Ainslie from beating record of four medals in Finn class.

Denmark's Jonas Hogh-Christensen celebrates his victory in the Finn class.
Denmark's Jonas Hogh-Christensen celebrates his victory in the Finn class.

Denmark's Jonas Hogh-Christensen nailed his colours to the mast of his single-handed heavyweight dinghy yesterday, beating the reigning Olympic champion Ben Ainslie into second position in both the first two races of the Finn class competition.

Hogh-Christensen used his near 10-kilogram weight advantage over Britain's Ainslie to good effect in blustery conditions on the waters of Weymouth Bay off the south coast of England, saying he would do everything he could to defend the record of four gold medals set by the Danish sailing great Paul Elvstrom, an achievement Ainslie is looking to match.

"Ben might beat his record but I still think Paul is the bigger sailor ... I hope I can protect his [Elvstrom's] legacy," Hogh-Christensen said as he prepared for today's third and fourth races of the contest, which runs until Sunday.

The red-haired Dane made a strong start in both races and capitalised on this when he chose the left hand side of the course in the upwind leg of the second race. The wind favoured the sailors on the left over those who opted to go the other way, including Ainslie.

Ainslie, 35, will have to beat Hogh-Christensen and other heavier rivals if he is to equal Elvstrom.

"It was a good day, in very shifty winds. I didn't have such a great first leg. They were very difficult conditions when you race that close to the shoreline," Ainslie said "I think he [Hogh-Christensen] was on a hotline to Paul Elvstrom today. It's a good start, I'm happy with that."

Croatia's Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic came third in both of yesterday's races, with US Beijing silver medallist Zach Railey well down the fleet of 24 boats.

"It was a very difficult day, very shifty. I'm OK with the result in the first race," Railey said.

Austria's Florian Raudaschl made two strong starts but faded as the races developed. Choppy seas, with white caps on the waves at times, made for testing conditions with one of the Finns capsizing dramatically in the first race.