Lasenby boosts Sydney hopes


The Olympic hopes of single hander Jon Lasenby received a boost when he proved a threat to Olympic silver medallist Ben Ainslie at the British Laser Championships off Abersoch, north Wales.

Familiar wind conditions on the Irish Sea helped Lasenby match the pace of the British number one, who later admitted disappointment at his lack of speed in the closing stages of each race.

Lasenby, who finished third behind England's Mark Littlejohn, blamed recent time off for his failure to maintain Ainslie's speed to the line but was encouraged by his performance.

British-born, French-based and Irish-qualified, Lasenby looks certain to secure an Olympic nomination.

The regatta enabled him to get back into the swing of a week-long event and lent time time to work on "psychological tools" developed with coach Trevor Millar.

In Athens yesterday, the top-10 place of Malahide's David Burrows in the first race of the Finn Gold Cup boosted spirits for the threeman Irish squad racing in the Greek Sarconic Gulf.

Several sailors in the 84-boat fleet were expelled after a general recall but all three Irish stayed the right side of the line to complete the race in 15-20 knot winds. Poland's Kuszierewicz Mateusz and Sweden's Frederik Loop chose the right side of the course to finish first and second, with Burrows leading the chasing bunch to finish seventh.

The Gold cup is a significant indicator in the three-way battle for nomination for the Sydney Olympics. John Driscoll, the 1996 representative, therefore would have been disappointed with his 47th place, 13 ahead of Ballyholme club-mate Colin Chapman.

At home, newly crowned Mirror national champion Gerbil Owens, in Maximiser, won the opening race of the Eagle star Mirror European championships after a light, shifting breeze caused a one-hour delay.

Problems continued for race officer John Godkin into the afternoon, when a major wind shift forced him to signal an abandonment and restart the 90-boat fleet some two hours later off Kinsale.