British hopes in sailing’s America’s Cup World Series were given a massive boost yesterday as all three British-led boats made it through their qualifying match races.
The big name was Ben Ainslie in his egotistical Ben Ainslie Racing boat, one that hopes to gain experience for the 2013 America’s Cup proper. Despite being a markedly different boat to the ones Ainslie usually handles, he showed great leadership skills to thump opponents Team Korea and resign them to competing only in the 11-boat fleet races. Ben goes on to face New Zealand crew of Emirates Team; they finished rock-bottom in the speed trials of June’s Newport edition but were third overall in the fleet races (match races weren’t used there).
Elsewhere, both Italian crews with British skippers prevailed against varied opponents; Chris Draper on the Luna Rossa Piranha defeated Sweden’s Artemis Racing Red and move into the quarter-finals to meet Oracle Team USA – Spithill. They could square up to their Italian compatriots Luna Rossa Swordfish in the semis, after first vanquishing China Team in the preliminary rounds. They’re now racing against that other Swedish team, Artemis Racing Red! Best of luck to all of them (but mainly Ben, because, you know).
It may be horrible and humid in Blighty but it’s winter in other parts of the world and that means winter sports!
New Zealand welcomed the opening of the Freestyle Halfpipe skiing World Cup event. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that we’re not known for our high standards of snow and ice athletes in this country, but we were well represented in the men’s event. James Machon was our highest finisher in 20th out of 36 with a first-run of 59.6 points. Murray Buchan and Robert Taylor finished lower down in 23rd and 26th respectively. The woman’s event proved to be more successful, with Rowan Cheshire coming in 18th out of 27 participants.
Across in South America (either Brazil or Chile, I don’t know, but do you really care?), Kieran Norris finished 31st out of 36 finishers in the national championships’ men’s slalom events. Four other British entrants failed to finish their first run.
A great performance from Reading’s Garath McCleary had many onlookers, probably rashly, demanding he be included in England’s next World Cup qualifying squad but it still wasn’t enough to help his team fight off a 4-2 win from Chelsea.
The former Nottingham Forest player, 25, bothered Ashley Cole all night and got himself on the assist sheet by delivering a cross to Pogrebnyak, bypassing Gary Cahill on the way. Despite that, the Chelsea and England centre-back had a decent game and got himself on the scoreboard with a decent shot from 30 yards out that really should have been saved. Frank Lampard scored his second penalty in as many games after Hazard was again brought down in the box. Danny Guthrie was the other British scorer in the game whilst Cole provided an assist for one of Chelsea’s many goals.
Essex cricketer Ravi Bopara was given a game for Gloucestershire as they took on a depleted South African team, hoping to get some practice in before England next take on the Test ranking champions. It wasn’t a great experience for him as he was bowled out after taking only three runs and the county lost out to a country containing only two of the first XI that expertly demolished England earlier this week.
The final day of snooker’s International Championship qualifiers in Sheffield saw many of the bubbling under stars enter the competition and stake a claim for the final places in the Chinese tournament. British hopes overseas were boosted with wins for Michael White, Dominic Dale, Ryan Day, Andrew Higginson, Mark Davis, Robert Milkins, Jamie Burnett, Peter Ebdon, Barry Pinches and Ali Carter.