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17 February 2004, 09:48 am
Day 2 Goes To Sander WILLEMS
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Sander Willems (NED) © Marco Antonio Rezende/COB

Finn Gold Cup
Rio de Janeiro

Consistency is something that few here in Rio are managing to find. One person who did find it yesterday was Sander WILLEMS (NED) who scored a second in race two and then won race three in very tricky conditions to lead the championship overnight.
Second overnight is Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) who scored a 10th and a 9th, while lying third is reigning champion Ben AINSLIE (GBR) who scored a 17th and a 3rd.

Speed was the crucial element today, at least speed in the right direction. For many it was just a drag race to the corner and those who didn't come in drag ended up looking at far too many transoms. Today's races were sailed outside Rio Harbour with a magnificent view (when the cloud cleared for long enough) from Sugar Loaf Mountain down the coast along Copacabana Beach and onto Ipanema, and proved a testing time for all concerned with light and variable winds and a strong current across the course that caught many out. The windward leeward loop course was used.

Race two started after a postponement in 3 to 5 knots of breeze. Most of the fleet favoured the left on the first beat, although in general the leaders emerged from the right. It was a long slow beat against the tide, with many again fouling the weather mark. First round the weather mark was Gasper VINCEC (SLO) followed by Richard CLARKE (CAN), Guillaume FLORENT (FRA) and Karlo KURET (CRO).

On the run the fleet went left, with Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) leading a group to the right. However the left was paying and Florent lead round the bottom mark followed by Sander WILLEMS (NED), who had moved up from 6th at the top mark, and a group of others tightly bunched including Sebastien GODEFROID (BEL). By now the wind was up to 8 to 10 knots and virtually everyone was following the right hand side of the course and Florent maintained his lead to win the race on the following run followed by Willems and Godefroid.

The tide was even stronger for race three but the breeze had gone back to a fitful 4 to 6 knots, and in spite of an adverse tidal set on the start line, there were still two general recalls before the race got underway. Waclaw SZUKIEL (POL) made the best of the start to tack away immediately to the right and to round the first mark just behind Sander WILLEMS (NED), Matt HOWARD (GBR) and Othmar MUELLER VAN BLUMENCRON (SUI). Waclaw took the lead on the run to lead through the downwind gate.

On the final upwind leg, everyone headed inshore out of the tide, but an increase in pressure and backing in direction left those inshore scuppered. Willems regained the lead and led to the downwind finish to score an impressive win. The race was overly lengthened due to the wind gradually decreasing and the strong tide and made for some very frustrating racing for some.

Proceedings were slightly livened up by a bulk carrier deciding to cross the course area. The Chairman of the Jury Ralph ROBERTS tried showing it the yellow flag in an attempt to keep it off the course, but after a 360 degree turn, the captain decided to come through anyway!

It was certainly a tricky day's sailing with patchy and fitful breezes and a strong tide to content with. Many big names are well down the results list and very few people are finishing any sort of consistency.Only Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN has managed to score all top 10 results and most of those inside the top ten have a high scoring race.

Winner of race two Guillaume FLORENT commented, "In the first race there was a bit more breeze and I was sailing fast in the right direction. I went right on the first beat and centre right on the second and it paid both times. Then for some reason I tried something completely different in the second race today, and it didn't work at all." Florent had a shocker in race three, finishing 53rd.

Defending Champion Ben AINSLIE was relatively pleased with his day. A 17th in race two was out down to having the wrong rig settings after the breeze increased, but the speed returned for race three when he finished third. He commented, "A good day overall, as most people are having trouble here, so to get a third is good, but perhaps I didn't go hard enough right. In the first race today, apart from lack of speed, I kept getting forced left when the right paid and there wasn't much I could do about it. It was a very tough day out there." Team mate Andrews SIMPSON, who finished 3rd in Cadiz today scored a 36th and 16th, concurred, "Boy it was hard out there. Even when you thought you were going the right way, things could turn against you. Just look at the results and see how many big names were finishing way down. But there's always tomorrow."

And tomorrow the racing continues with two more races and a better wind forecast.

Top 20 Results After 3 Races
Place Skipper Country Total Points Race 1 Race 2 Race 3
Pos. Point Pos. Point Pos. Point
1 Sander E. Willems NED 20 17 17 2 2 1 1
2 Jonas Hogh-Christensen DEN 23 4 4 10 10 9 9
3 Ben Ainslie GBR 25 5 5 17 17 3 3
4 Mateuzs Kuzsneirewicz POL 26 3 3 16 16 7 7
5 Charlie Cumbley GBR 31 8 8 11 11 12 12
6 Richard Clarke CAN 34 11 11 4 4 19 19
7 Karlo Kuret CRO 36 6 6 13 13 17 17
8 Jaap Zielhuis NED 39 2 2 8 8 29 29
9 Michael Maier CZE 43 1 1 28 28 14 14
10 Marin Misura CRO 45 37 37 6 6 2 2
11 Sebastian Godefroid BEL 47 24 24 3 3 20 20
12 Soren Holm DEN 49 15 15 9 9 25 25
13 João Signorini BRA 50 21 21 21 21 8 8
14 David Burrows IRL 51 33 33 7 7 11 11
15 Stefan de Vries NED 53 9 9 20 20 24 24
16 Waclaw Szukiel POL 54 27 27 23 23 4 4
17 Bruno Prada BRA 62 7 7 40 40 15 15
18 Matt Howard GBR 63 25 25 25 25 13 13
19 Anthony Nossites AUS 67 30 30 14 14 23 23
20 Othmar Mueller Von Blumenvon SUI 72 28 28 39 39 5 5

Robert Deaves
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