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19 February 2004, 09:37 am
Ben AINSLIE Moves Into The Lead
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Finn Gold Cup
Rio de Janeiro

The Finn Gold Cup in Rio de Janeiro saw two more races on Wednesday in superb conditions in Guanabara Bay with fresh winds and great waves.
A win in race five and a twelfth in race six saw Ben AINSLIE (GBR) move into a seven point lead over Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL) with just three races to go. David BURROWS (IRL) moved up to third after some consistent races.

Race five got underway in a warm north-east 8 to 10 knot breeze. The windward leeward course was set and most sailors started down near the pin end. The majority of the fleet headed towards the left of the course. Sebastian GODEFROID (BEL) and Ben AINSLIE (GBR) moved towards the right and then tacked back to the left. These two rounded the top mark first and second followed by Rafael TRUJILLO VILLAR (ESP, Ali Enver ADAKAN (TUR).....stop! You don't want to know all that. I mean we are in Rio. It's two days to the carnival, the sun is out, it's 30 plus degrees, the wind is blowing, the water is sparkling and there are some great waves to surf down. What more could a Finn sailor want out of life?

The scene is awesome. The cloud has cleared giving a great view of the Sugar Loaf, Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado, Cococabana beach and some really impressive mountains behind. The mere mention of the romantic names of places in Rio conjures up a life on the beach, of beautiful people, partying, girls, sand and awesome scenery. Do you really want to know who rounded what mark in what order? I guess you do...

Ah hmm..to continue...and Anthony NOSSITER (AUS). The overnight leader, Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ was struggling somewhere in the mid-20s. The leaders split gybes on the first downwind with Ainslie going to the left and Godefroid heading right. The top sailors were in their element now as the wind increased allowing them to show off their great pumping and surfing skills - under the ever watchful eye of the Jury of course. Godefroid rounded the gate in the lead but went wrong up the second beat to let Ainslie through to the lead which he held to the finish. Godefroid eventually finished fourth behind Ali Enver ADAKAN (TUR) and Sander WILLEMS (NED).

One of the most experienced sailors in the fleet, Sebastian has been sailing Finns for 14 years and will step out of his hiking pants after the Olympics in Athens this summer. Not doing quite as well as he expected here Sebbe spent the winter months sail testing, however it didn't quite go according to plan. "When we put together this new sail we sailed every day in a large swell and 7 to 8 knots. In Rio until today we have had flat water, so I am lacking a bit of speed." On his plans after the summer, Sebbe says, "I am planning to go into the Tornado after the Olympics. I got a taste for speed without too much effort sailing the trimarans and also really liked the teamwork that's involved. If you sail Finns for so long, it can get a bit boring, so it's good to sail other boats for a change." Tucking into a big sandwich he continues, "I am also doing some triathlons, the first one is in September, straight after the Games, but it should help me lose some weight for the Tornado."

Race six started in 12-15 knots and for the first time in the regatta the traditional Olympic course was used with an upwind finish. After one general recall, the pin end marker was moved and many boats opted to start at the committee boat, Ainslie among them. However shortly after the start the wind shifted back and left those at the starboard end with some catching up to do. The majority of the fleet headed left again and at the top mark it was Guillaume FLORENT (FRA) leading Rafael TRUJILLO VILLAR, Emilios PAPATHANISIOU (GRE), Balazs HADJU (HUN), Anthony NOSSITER (AUS), Jonas Hoegh CHRISTENSEN (DEN) and Andrew SIMPSON (GBR). Ainslie was somewhere in the 30s and had a lot of work to do.

Large waves and an increased wind facilitated two fantastic reaches, but it was still Florent at the leeward mark ahead of Trujillo and Papathansaiou. The fleet virtually all banged left again on the second beat. Papathanasiou emerged round the top mark in the lead followed by Florent and Trujillo. Positions remained the same on the run and the final beat, with Simpson moving up to fourth.

With a bad result apiece today, the top two from yesterday, Ainslie and Kusznierewicz, swapped positions going into the penultimate day. David Burrows is just five points behind the Pole and this group are eleven points ahead of the chasing group. It could be an interesting day as positions four through to ten are separated by just six points, so Thursday will be very important for some.

After racing Ainslie commented, "In the first race I got it just about right. I started at the pin end, rounded the top mark in second place and then moved into the lead on the final run. In the second race, after the general recall, they moved the pin end mark and I made a mistake by deciding to start by the committee boat. Anyway, soon after the start the wind shifted back, and those who started at the pin crossed me by miles. I rounded the top mark in the 30s, but managed to pull up a lot offwind and a few on the final beat, so I am reasonably happy with a twelfth."

One other person who should be mentioned is David HOWLETT, the GBR coach here. Now David keeps an close eye on his boys and makes sure they all know what is going on and gives them every assistance - even going as far as giving some good advice on the odd occasion. So imagine the reaction when coming alongside your beleaguered author, who expected a tow in after a hard days racing, he comes up with, "You're the kind of person who is always saying they don't sail enough, so here's your big opportunity." And with that he roars off back to the club. To add insult to injury, on the way out to the race course today, he comes alongside in a similarly jocular tone (hey very funny!) and comments, "I would give you a tow but you need the practice!" And roars off again in a cloud of spray. Great advice if ever any was needed…

Three more races are still to be sailed in this championship, two on Thursday and one on Friday and Ben AINSLIE could make history, becoming only the second sailor ever to win the Gold Cup in three consecutive years.

Top Ten After Six Races

Pos Nation Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Pts
1 GBR Ben Ainslie 5 17 3 6 1 12 27,0
2 POL Mateuzs Kuzsneirewicz 3 16 7 2 27 6 34,0
3 IRL David Burrows 33 7 11 9 7 5 39,0
4 CAN Richard Clarke 11 4 19 11 12 13 51,0
5 CRO Karlo Kuret 6 13 17 7 9 21 52,0
6 FRA Guillaume Florent 19 1 53 26 6 2 54,0
7 ESP Rafael Trujillo Uillar 45 37 6 3 5 3 54,0
8 DEN Jonas Hogh-Christensen 4 10 9 BFD 22 10 55,0
9 GBR Andrew Simpson 20 36 16 1" 14 4 56,0
10 NED Sander E. Willems 17 2 1 34 3 43 57,0

Robert Deaves (As Amended by ISAF)
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