Saturday, 4 August 2012

Arise Sir Benjamin!!

We were on the bus tonight having gorged on some terrific entertainment all day when the bloke behind us asked us who would win on Sunday. Didn't occur to us to ask what he was going on about.

He was from Politiken, one of the largest selling newspapers in Denmark and in town of course to write about the big Ben v Jonas showdown. It was a fascinating conversation which left us thinking Ainslie would have to be desperately unlucky if he lost out to the Hawk - as Hoegh-Christensen is known in his homeland - on Sunday.

For a start, Jonas' Olympic record is a bit ragged compared to Ben's. Sixth at Beijing and ninth in Athens......make that a first and a first for Ben. He apparently decided this time not to boast of winning medals as he has done before and instead filled his pre-Olympics interviews with  'hopes' of doing 'well'.

Everyone back home in Denmark is amazed he is doing so well apparently and puts it down to a new mast and rigging which has given him a few extra knots of pace and his bulk (he has the most enormous thighs!!) which has been handy in the fresh breezes.

Add to that the small matter that he has been sailing out of his skin, picking the shifts and making Ben feel like a munchkin and we have a persuasive argument for him being new Olympic champion.

Except.....and we LOVE the excepts!! The Hawk hasn't realised what a kick Ainslie gets out of being angry and sadly for him, he has aided and abetted the whole 'Get Ainslie Angry' campaign, unwittingly. We have seen Ainslie say openly this week that he is 'pissed off', 'really pissed off', 'frustrated' and 'angry' though there was only one day when his flaring nostrils and smilin eyes (smilin as in assassin!) spoke as loud as his words.

The rest of his pixillated hyperbole was clearly a game to work himself up into a lather to unleash his deadly X factor, you know the one that has repeatedly left opponents slain and feeble over the past 15 years. He needs to do this otherwise he verges on being ordinary.

Hence the slanging match which, we are assured finished with Ainslie calling Jonas some nasty names. In cricket, this is called sledging and the more vile and offensive it is, the more juvenile or worldly the protagonist appears depending on how effective it is. Goodness why everyone was getting their knickers in a twist about Ben's baiting but only time will tell how he will emerge.

Jonas was a fool to get sucked in. He should have resisted the temptation to answer back because that is exactly what Ainslie wanted. Had there been no reaction, there would be no lather.

Hang on. Why am I saying this because those interviews on Thursday were mediatastic!! Australian cricketers used to refer to the whole slagging off process as mental distintegration and that is exactly what Ainslie was trying to do to the poor unsuspecting Dane.

The Brit lost a point to the Dane in race one on Friday then gained a stupendous lead of 150 metres in the second which afforded him the luxury of planning ahead. If he could force Hoegh Christenson to drop two points, he would only have to beat him in the medal race to take gold. But he needed The Dane, who was in second to fall back to third (earning three rather than two points....geddit??) which required someone else to enter the fray to take second.

Welcome Pieter-Jan Postma from the Nederlands, a compatriot of Ainslie's Dutch girlfriend Marit Bouwmeister who rode to the rescue. He did this irrespective of Ainslie's tactics though Hoegh-Christenson might have been distracted by the slowing down and easing of sails he could see ahead of him. That must have seemed mighty strange.

Commentators got a bit carried away with Ainslie's trickery thinking back to the ruthless brilliance of Sydney 2000 but truth is, all he did was slow down to consider his options. Nothing more, though it could have been brilliant had Postma not overtaken Hoegh-Christensen of his own accord because Ainslie would have been compelled to put the knife in...god knows what he had in mind.
The Hawk will have to contend with partisan crowds on the Nothe

So we now have a contest that Hoegh-Christensen describes as 'epic' (he is probably shitting himself) and Ainslie will doubtless see as perfect sport aka lambs to the slaughter. His hand was bandaged last night and his fingers bloody but we had so much gold dust for our column inches that no one thought to ask why he was leaking. Maybe he has purchased some knuckle dusters.

The Nothe course where the medal race will be staged was used for the first race last Sunday and was host to the first of Hoegh-Christense's six outright wins. But that was yonks, perhaps light years ago and the momentum has now changed. The race track on Sunday will be half the distance of all the previous races which may force errors if the breeze refuses to cooperate and of course, that is the mother of all IFs! The wind is supposed to be light.....that's ideal for Ainslie.

This will be a masterclass in match racing and it is no coincidence that Ainslie is not on anyone's Christmas card list in the match racing circuit. He takes people out with all the niceness and clinical precision of a firing squad.

Would you put your house on Ainslie beating Hoegh-Christensen and winning gold? Bleedin nora. Now we have got past that iffy moment mid week before the red mist descended, I would put my house on it and yours too. This contest on Sunday is going to be a classic. Sit back and enjoy.........!

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