Sailors and equipment underwent a thorough testing on day four of the Finn Gold Cup in Vallensbaek, Denmark with strong winds introducing a new element to the championship.
It was also all change at the top after race wins for Ed WRIGHT
(GBR) and Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN
(DEN). WRIGHT climbs to the top, with Giles SCOTT
(GBR) in second and Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC
(CRO) moving up to third.
The wind shifting further into the north and coming off the shore produced a selection of intriguing right hand and left hand shifts for the sailors to choose from. The Oscar flag for free pumping remained up through both races with wind speeds averaging 15 knots and gusting to 25 at times, with the windward loop/triangle course set.
For the first time this week, race seven got underway first time. Winner WRIGHT said, "I came off the line well and then tacked to the right. I had really good boatspeed and just pulled away to round the top mark in the lead."
He was followed by Piotr KULA
(POL), KLJAKOVIC GASPIC, Marin MISURA
(CRO), Rafa TRUJILLO
(ESP) and Mark ANDREWS
(GBR). WRIGHT gained some distance on the first downwind. "On the second beat I just loosely covered Rafa and the rest of the fleet and then sailed away from them again on the last reaches."
KLJAKOVIC GASPIC finished third, "It was a tough day for me but came good at the end. In the first race I had a bad start and I ended up on the left. I was sure it was going to be shifty conditions and I was sailing on a starboard lift getting going quite a long way to the left. Then a new wind came in and I got a big advantage from that to go back over to the right and rounded in the top ten. The rest of the race was quite easy for me as I was fast on the downwind. On the second upwind before the top I was on the left and the rest of the fleet were on the right and in the last 200 metres I got a nice shift from the left and gained 50 metres on the group."
Meanwhile TRUJILLO climbed to second with HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN finishing fourth just ahead of SCOTT.
Race two started after a brief intermission to allow a rain storm to pass over. The clouds brought 30 knots winds and cold rain but it soon passed and the wind dropped to 12-14 knots for the start of race eight, which also got away first time.
WRIGHT said, "The second race was really difficult. Out of the start the guys on top of me weren't tacking. The rest of the fleet at the port end had tacked and were starting to cross us. They were taking all the lanes or I would have gone earlier, but I had good numbers so I was happy to keep going. But I was lucky that the right ran out of pressure. I rounded about 20th but then had a good downwind so that pulled me up to seventh and then on the last reach I was working really hard and finished fourth."
KLJAKOVIC GASPIC had a much tougher time. "I think on the top mark I was 35th and I knew I had just one downwind and it was really important to surf as much as possible and to make up a lot of ground. So after the top mark I gave it 100 per cent and I gained lots and got in the middle of the top 15 and rounded close to the front pack. On the second upwind I sailed really smart and had some good moments to round the top mark in fourth with a couple of boats around me and I was really fast on the reaches and finished third.
"It was a great day. The wind was good, but still very shifty. You just have to get used to these conditions and use them the best you can. In the first two days I was expecting them to cancel the race, but that didn't happen so you just have to keep going and make the best of what you have. Today was really exhausting for me, especially the second race."
Race winner, HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN tells the story of race eight. "The second race was very tricky. Before the start I thought I saw something coming out of the left and I was a little afraid because the right has been quite good so far and I decided to start at the pin and got a half decent start there. I was lying next to Bryan BOYD and shouted at him to drop his traveller because he was pinching and we just needed to just get across the fleet. We did and then rounded the first mark first and second."
Behind them were Zach RAILEY
(USA), Daniel BIRGMARK
(SWE), TRUIJILLO and Michael MAIER
"The wind came in from behind on the run and a lot of people moved up and Giles came past and led at the bottom. The next beat was really shifty and I managed to play the shifts a bit better than Giles and pulled out a little bit. The left side came in quite well but I kept playing the middle and tried to stay safe and minimise the risk, and take a little out of Giles every time I had the chance."
The Dane rounded the top mark clear ahead of SCOTT, MISURA, KLJAKOVIC GASPIC and WRIGHT and extended his lead down the spray filled reaches to record his second race win of the series.
By the finish, WRIGHT had moved up to fourth behind HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN, SCOTT and KLJAKOVIC GASPIC with MAIER in fifth.
HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN continued, "I would be happy with a top ten here but also when it's on, I'll do anything to win and today I gave myself that opportunity. There's still a good way to go and Ed has a good lead. If the forecast is right we are going to have a lot of breeze tomorrow and Ed usually doesn't make mistakes in that so he's going to be a hard guy to beat, it's going to be tight and a lot of good guys are in a good position.
"For me, today couldn't be much better and I very much more relaxed than last year. I could see myself coming back to the class but right now there's no money to do that. That's my main problem right now. Sport in general in Denmark is getting a 20 per cent cut in funding, while everyone else is increasing by 20 per cent. I am all out of finance and I can't put myself in that sort of debt every year. So we'll see."
The previous regatta leader Dan SLATER
(NZL) ended the day in sixth after a 12th and 14th. He said, "It was one of those days. I wasn't that quick and it was pretty hard to play the game. The lack of sailing since the Games probably got found out a bit today to be honest. I'm also using equipment I've never really used before, especially in a breeze. I'm using a UK North for the first time in three years.
"I kept being forced to tack off because I couldn't hold a lane so it's not just about missing shifts. But every time I was forced out of my lane it was another few boatlengths lost. It's one of those things. But we will have all closed up quite a lot today and there is still plenty to play for."
One sailor who had a better day, Thursday was Pieter-Jan POSTMA
(NED). With two ninth places he has moved up to 18th. POSTMA has been struggling with his form and not found the speed that led him to silver medal at the 2007 Worlds and Olympic Test Event but is optimistic about the future. "I am getting good starts. Off the line I am looking good. By my strategy and boatspeed are not 100% and that creates some doubts and that's not good. It's tough, and the level is high, but I have faith and patience and I'll get there. So no worries. I'm not actually sure what the problem but sometimes it's good to analyse and put some distance on it to pin point the issues. The winter was a little bit messy and I think if you have a steady winter you have a better season.
"But today was nice. Perfect conditions. It's also a perfect atmosphere here. They have arranged everything here really well. I think it is one of the best, if not the best regattas I have been to. When you come ashore you get a bit of music, some beer and a sandwich. On the water there are perfect races. I am really enjoying it."
The two final qualification races are scheduled at 11:00 on Friday, with the Medal Race and the final race for the rest on Saturday.
Results - click here
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