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7 July 2009, 11:03 am
Tricky Conditions Produce Mixed Bag On Day One At Finn Gold Cup
Poland's Rafal SZUKIEL in action
Poland's Rafal SZUKIEL holds the early lead at the Finn Gold Cup

Finn Gold Cup 2009
Vallensbæk, Denmark

Two testing raced sailed off Vallensbaek Harbour near Copenhagen in Denmark were completed Monday with virtually all the favourites picking up a discard.
Race wins went to Bryan BOYD (USA) and Dan SLATER (NZL), though Rafal SZUKIEL (POL) was the most consistent and leads overnight.

Starting on time at 11:00, the first race had one general recall before getting away under black flag. The 6-8 knots wind was patchy at best and those who favoured the right side - near the land- generally came out best.

Race winner BOYD said, "We could see there was a bit more pressure and a puff coming in from the right. It was super crowded at the committee boat but I knew I was just going to have to throw it in there and actually I didn't get a very good start but I managed to bail out quite quickly and just lived off of Giles' [Giles SCOTT (GBR)] hip for long enough to get into the pressure. From there it was just two or three shifts and every time the pressure moved in it was just a bit more to the right so I could use it to take me back across the group."

Boyd had a narrow lead round the top mark from Thomas LE BRETON (FRA), Caleb PAINE (USA), Andrew MILLS (GBR), Marin MISURA (CRO) and Peer MOBERG (NOR).

BOYD continued, "The first downwind was nice for me. It's great when you get a little bit of breeze just in front of the group. The sea was not very chopped up and I had room to do my own thing."

In fact the American sailed well clear of the fleet to win by over a minute. MOBERG moved up to second place upwind and maintained that on the final downwind to the finish. MISURA and SZUKIEL went further to the right on the downwind and picked up some places to finish third and fourth.

BOYD summed up his race win, "I've sailed a few of these and believe me it's good to take one down, especially the first race of the Gold Cup. It really sets the tone for the week so I'm psyched up and it's certainly going to be a great memory to take home."

After another general recall, race two also got away under a black flag. With more cloud cover and some dark clouds coming down the race track, this race was to proven even trickier. At times the wind reached 10 knots, but was still very patchy.

SLATER explains, "I got a pretty good start near the committee boat end and managed to tack clear and basically the whole fleet then went right. We were looking good when we first tacked and then it went left and we were looking pretty sick until it started to head a bit, so I decided it was time to put the money in the bank and get across. Some of the other guys kept going and fell out of the breeze and paid for it. In the first race it paid big dividends to go further right, so maybe it was a bit risky tacking but it panned out for me OK. "

Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) led round the first mark followed by Christian QVIST (DEN), Slater, Timo HAGOORT (NED), Alex SELIVANOV (RUS), Ed WRIGHT (GBR) and Johal NACHHATAR (IND). By the gate BIRGMARK was still leading, though Slater split tacks for a while.

"I passed Daniel on the second beat and then he passed me again and then just before the top mark I passed him again. We were just a few boat lengths apart. And again on the run he passed me and then I passed him."

Several sailors got caught out because the wind at the top mark wasn't enough to raise the 'O' flag for free pumping, even though by the middle of the leg it had increased to 15 knots. "The middle part of the run was hard to limit pumping but towards the end it wasn't a problem as we were just hanging on by then!"

Slater took the race win with BIRGMARK close behind. Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) recovered well to place third while Wright moved up to fourth on the final leg.

BIRGMARK, who has taken a break since the Olympic Games said, "I have had a pretty long break from sailing after the Olympics so now I'm just focusing in getting back to the same level as last year. I am doing another campaign, but I will try to do broaden my sailing knowledge by doing more keelboat sailing and match racing. I think that will help me to develop the Finn skills as well."

On this regatta he said, "It's good to see that there are so many Finn sailors challenging for the podium places this year. It will be an interesting Gold Cup. It's an open bay and I think we will have great sailing conditions. I'm also glad that there are many new younger sailors who begin to sail the Finn. It proves the Class is strong and competitive."

Two of those new sailors had a good day today. In his first Gold Cup race, PAINE placed 14th and sits in 39th overall, while 16 year old Jorge ZARIF (BRA), placed 26th and 10th to sit in 13th overall.

SLATER concluded, "'The conditions weren't great today, but the race committee did a great job. It was very shifty but there's nothing they can do about that. However the length of the races were perfect and it was well run. I can't complain about the hospitality either. It's pretty good to come in and get a free sandwich and a beer straight away."

ISAF President Göran PETERSSON (SWE) was also at the Finn Gold Cup for the opening day and presented the day's prizes to BOYD and SLATER.

Two more races are scheduled for Tuesday at 11:00.

Follow the race live with TracTrac through the event website at: www.fgc-2009.com.

And follow events as they happen on the Twitter feed and Finn Class Blog at:
http://finnclass.blogspot.com

Results - click here
Robert Deaves, IFA
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