The opening day of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Finn Gold Cup in Falmouth, UK produced a mixed bag of results for many sailors with a shifty offshore breeze. After two races Ed Wright (GBR) leads Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Deniss Karpak (EST), while many sailors picked up high scores in the tricky conditions.
The fleet was initially held ashore but there was a further delay on the water as the wind clocked round to the west before a line was set. The first race finally got going under black flag at around 14.00 with one boat disqualified; Egor Terpigorev
(RUS) led at each and every mark but unfortunately for him he crossed the finish line in silence as the winner's gun went to Ben Ainslie
Terpigorev led Dimitar Vanelov
(BUL), Ainslie and Ed Wright
(GBR) round the top mark and though Ainslie moved through to second on the first downwind he couldn't pass the Russian. Wright moved up to third across the line to place second in the race behind Ainslie, while Rafal Szukiel
(POL) climbed from fifth at the first mark to end up third.
The second race was started very promptly with another black flag start following a general recall. Wright, along with Jorge Zarif
(BRA) and Timo Haggort
(NED) started on port tack from the pin end while Jonathan Lobert
(FRA) started at the committee boat.
At the top mark Wright just held the lead from Lobert with Oleksiy Borysov
(UKR) and Jonas Høgh-Christensen
(DEN) close behind. On the first downwind Wright and Lobert had a great battle, made more exciting with the Oscar flag up for free pumping. Wright rounded the gate ahead of Lobert and these two extended on the second beat to build a nice lead.
On the final downwind Wright extended even further for a comfortable win with Ainslie moving into third and putting some pressure on Lobert in the closing stages. Zarif had a great race crossing in sixth.
Ainslie commented, "It's great to be racing in Falmouth on home waters in an event as important as the Finn Gold Cup. We had a great day on the water with good breeze. However, it was coming off the land so it was quite difficult and hard work tactically to take the right side of the course. Overall, I'm pleased with my day, the first race I managed to get near the front of the fleet and had a great race with the Russian sailor. Unfortunately, he was over the line at the start so he was disqualified from the race, but it was a good race and he sailed very well.
"As you'd expect with the World Championships it's a very tough level of competition. There's quite a big range throughout the fleet; it's great to see some of the older sailors from the UK racing, and also the younger sailors coming through for the future. Then we have a lot of the Olympic sailors who are training or competing here with half an eye on the Olympics in a couple of months' time.
"We'll see what the conditions are like tomorrow; but potentially we might have some more wind, which will be quite physical. There's a long way to go so we just keep looking forward and try to get some good races in."
Second over the line in race two, Lobert summed up his day, "Today was a pretty good day, the first race was so so, I had a crash in the first start but I managed to come back pretty well after the first beat and the first lap. I then lost out again in the second beat so it was really up to the second race for me to do well to make up for it.
"In the second race I started from the committee boat, I went to the right and tried to be as fast as possible to get to the top mark just next to Ed. From there we had a big fight on downwind which was good fun before the second upwind where I tried to pass him, but the timing wasn't perfect so he gained some distance and got away. For the rest of that race I was just managing to keep my second place, but I'm pretty happy with that.
"It was great sailing out there; it was windy and really sunny so perfect conditions for sailing, the course was really well organised so we had a lot of fun. I hope to have good races this week, that's the plan, but I will take it day by day and and try to do my best every time.
"I started at committee boat Ed at the pin end. Ed was really surprised after racing when he found out I started at the committee boat and tacked across immediately; it just shows that the wind is pretty shifty and you have to make the most of where you are to do well."
This champion is the Olympic selection trials for many sailors, including the Canadians. After twio races, Chris Cook (CAN) sits in 6th place, while maain rival Greg Douglas (CAN) is in 19th, though he did pick up a useful seventh in the second race. He said, "Today I had a good second race - the first race was not so good. I got a little stuck in the fleet. It was a big fleet so it was tough to get out of it, but the second race went really well, I finished seventh so I'm really happy with that."
"In the second race the pumping flag went up, which plays to my strengths, so I was really happy with that. I got a good start and tacked on the first shift, which made it easy. The tide I think was pretty slack today at the time we were sailing, so it wasn't too much of an issue. The shifts were pretty even, I think it was more from the pressure, you could see the big pressure lines coming down out there.
"I'm happy with today overall, one good race, one bad race, so I can't complain. This is the trials so every point counts really, we're working hard, the top boat goes so we'll see how it turns out in the end."
World number 2 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) didn't have the best day. However despite placed 26 and 16 today he was upbeat about the rest of the week. "It's still just the beginning. Two races are just the beginning of the week. The rest of the week I think is going to be interesting and anything is possible. Same way like I did today, anybody else can do a bad day so we can see also some other good sailors have bad days. I think it just the beginning so I'll clear my head, tomorrow is a new day so I'll wake up in the morning and go for it.
"It was difficult, extremely difficult. From the beginning it was just going bad, the decisions that I took were questionable, it turned out quite bad so I hope it's going to be my worst day."
So after two races, the 2010 world champion Ed Wright leads the five time champion Ben Ainslie by one point, with the new world number five Deniss Karpak, who scored two fifth places, ending the day in third.
Racing continues Monday with two more races scheduled from 11.00, and with stronger winds forecast, it should prove to be another great day of racing in Falmouth.
Top 10 After Two Races
1 GBR 11 Edward Wright 3
2 GBR 3 Ben Ainslie 4
3 EST 2 Deniss Karpak 10
4 GBR 85 Andrew Mills 12
5 POL 17 Piotr Kula 19
6 CAN 41 Christopher Cook 20
7 POL 7 Rafal Szukiel 23
8 DEN 2 Jonas Høgh-Christensen 23
9 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 27
10 FIN 218 Tapio Nirkko 28
Finn Gold Cup Website