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29 June 2009, 01:34 pm
Stars Line Up For Finn Gold Cup Start In Denmark Next Week
Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Denmark's Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN is returning from his post-Olympic break for next week's Finn Gold Cup

Finn Gold Cup 2009
Vallensbæk, Denmark

The form book is wide open going into next week's Finn Gold Cup at Vallensbæk, near Copenhagen in Denmark.
With a different winner at each major European event so far this year, picking favourites is easy, but picking a winner would be a hard call.

So far there are 98 entries from 30 countries including 15 juniors and just two former champions. Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP), winner in 2007 is back again along with 2006 Champion and local favourite Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN), who is sailing his first regatta since the Olympic Games last summer.

Post Olympic years are normally down in numbers, but this year's Finn Gold Cup has, in real terms, attracted the largest post Olympic turnout for 24 years - apart from 2005 when 100 boats were supplied in Moscow.

Most have come expecting light winds, but so far that has been far from the case as the sailors make last minute preparations. One of the best performers so far this year, Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) said, "Up to now I thought this was a light wind place but today I got out of car and got blown by the wind. So this confirms that you can get any wind anywhere, and in this way I prepared myself for this."

HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN adds, "We can expect anything. Windy and shifty, light and shifty, a light onshore seabreeze or a strong one. But both mean decent waves."

KLJAKOVIC GASPIC continues, "Lots of guys have been sailing all the year and they are sailing great, like Ed WRIGHT, Giles SCOTT, Rafa TRUJILLO. And there are guys who were sailing some events and they are also peaking for the Gold Cup, like Marin MISURA, Daniel BIRGMARK and Zach RAILEY. I think everybody will be a threat." The world #3 ranked sailor concluded, "This season I have been giving a lot of focus to the World Cup and on the Gold Cup. So far I am satisfied but I have one more goal to score."

Media

The events promises to be one of the most highly promoted dinghy events ever with extensive TV and internet coverage being planned. Jakob NYBROE from the organizing committee explains.

"Getting TV coverage for a sailing event in Denmark has traditionally been very difficult. Though sailing is a very popular sport for a lot of Danes the national media have tented to prioritize more traditional "TV-sports", such as football, cycling, tennis, etc. This is also why we are very excited that through the "Inviting the World of Sport" programme we managed to secure enough funding for the production, and even more excited that DR [Danish Radio and Television] have agreed not only to provide us with airtime every evening on one of the most popular sport shows on Danish TV, but also to distribute the footage through the Eurovision network, which basically means that every major TV station in Europe and throughout the world will have free access to footage from the Finn Gold Cup."

He continued, "The TV coverage together with the live tracking of ALL participants for ALL races means that the FGC 2009 will be one of the best covered sailing events ever held in Denmark."

The event will also be reported on in a number of ways:

- Live boat tracking through the official event website at www.fgc-2009.com
- Class blog and Twitter feed at http://finnclass.blogspot.com
- Multimedia coverage available through the event website

Local Favourite

Former World Champion and long time world #1 Finn sailor Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN is sailing his first event since the Olympic Games.

He said, "This year I have probably had 6-10 days in the boat before the first race. I have gone sailing a couple of times with some of the boys who have been around for training leading up to the event. I am expecting to have a fun event. With almost no days in the boat I have lowered my expectations but I am sure once we get started I will want to win."

On the competition, he said, "Ed WRIGHT looks strong, Rafa TRUJILLO is always in the game, so is PJ POSTMA and a couple of the experienced guys such as Zach RAILEY, Dan SLATER, and Daniel BIRGMARK. But also young guns as Giles SCOTT and Dennis KARPAK are on good form and for sure keen to win. It's always an open regatta in the Finn which makes it so much fun."

"I am also quite sure that the hospitality will be great. The plans I saw were awesome, so if they manage that it will be fantastic."

Form Guide

Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP) - World Ranking #1
2004 Olympics silver medallist and 2007 World Champion. One of the most experienced sailors in the fleet now and is very likely to competing for medals come the end of the week. Traditionally very strong in a breeze, he lost a lot of weight for Qingdao and has struggled a bit since then, but is still winning races and should be a strong contender.

Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED) - World Ranking #2
After taking the silver medals at the 2007 Finn Gold Cup and the Pre-Olympics POSTMA has never quite reproduced that form. Very physical sailor who can perform very well in big winds and big waves, he has been a bit inconsistent of late, though quite capable to taking a medal next week. Best results this year was seventh at the Delta Lloyd Regatta.

Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) - World Ranking #3
After his performances this year he is one of the top favourites for this event. Convincingly won Hyeres, second in Kiel and third at the Delta Lloyd. One of the lightest sailors in the fleet, he tends to prefer lighter conditions, but is gradually improving in the breeze so expect to see him near or at the front by the end of the week. Finished eighth in Qingdao.

Gasper VINCEC (SLO) - World Ranking #4
Produced some great results over the past couple of years but yet to take a major title. Third in Hyeres this year, his best result was third in the 2007 Finn Gold Cup and generally in the picture at most regattas. Expect to see VINCEC in the top five or six going into the medal race.

Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) - World Ranking #5
Finished a frustrating fourth in Qingdao and his best result this year was sixth at the Delta Lloyd Regatta. Clever, thoughtful and experienced sailor who can never be written off, BIRGMARK has never really realised his potential in the Finn class and though has won many races hasn't medalled at a championship yet.

Zach RAILEY (USA) - World Ranking #5
Silver medalist in Qingdao after making rapid progress through the fleet in the last two years. Now regularly top ten in major events and this year was third at the Rolex Miami OCR and fifth at the Delta Lloyd. Sailing fast and clever, RAILEY is very fired up for this event and should be among the top few.

Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) - World Ranking #8
Home town favourite who is 'ending' his 2008 Olympic campaign here. World Champion in 2006, he says he is 'here for fun', but no doubt if thing go his way will be as competitive as ever. Was the #1 ranked sailor in the World Rankings from 2006 to 2008, but hasn't sailed more than a few days since the Olympics, where he finished a disappointing sixth.

Ed WRIGHT (GBR) - World Ranking #10
His ranking position doesn't reflect his performance this season with wins at the Rolex Miami OCR, and Delta Lloyd regattas, second in Palma and third in Hyeres. He is the current leader of the ISAF Sailing World Cup and is the only sailor across all classes to win that title before the final event in Weymouth. For many WRIGHT will be the top favourite to take the title. Previously European Champion in 2006, his best Finn Gold Cup results was third in the same year.

Rafal SZUKIEL (POL) - World Ranking #11
Surprise winner of last week's Kiel Week, which will boost his confidence going into the Gold Cup. Has been there or thereabouts for many years and is an experienced seasoned campaigned who clearly has the ability to get to the front. Finished tenth in the 2008 Olympics but yet to medal and a major championship.

Giles SCOTT (GBR) - World Ranking #17
One of the fastest rising stars of the fleet in his first year as a senior, Scott won the Junior Worlds last year and trained extensively with Ben AINSLIE before the 2008 Olympics. Has performed outstandingly well so far this year. He won Palma, was fourth in Hyeres and second in Holland, SCOTT has to be one of the favourites for a medal, if not the title if he can keep it going.

Other potential race winners could come from: Peer MOBERG (NOR), bronze medallist in the 2007 Olympic Test Event and Laser bronze medallist from 1996; Eduard SKORNYAKOV (RUS), 2007 European Champion who is starting to show some form; Tapio NIRKKO (FIN), who can be blisteringly fast on his day; Bryan BOYD (USA), who has won races at several World Cup events this year; Marin MISURA (CRO), who has won races at Gold Cup level and is always a tough competitor; Michael MAIER (CZE), who has produced some great results so far this year and is sailing fast; and Deniss KARPAK (EST), newcomer from the Laser who has already finished top ten in several events including a third in Kiel Week.

Measurement and registration starts on Friday 3 July, with the opening ceremony on Saturday 4 July, and the practice race the following day. Ten qualification races are scheduled between Monday and Friday with the medal race and the final race for the rest on Saturday 11 July.
Robert Deaves, IFA
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