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TRUJILLO Takes Gold In Thrilling Medal Race
By Robert Deaves
In a thrilling and close Medal Race, Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) won the 2007 Finn Gold Cup after some fantastic sailing on the second lap at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais Portugal. A third place was enough for Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED) to take the silver while Gasper VINCEC (SLO) took bronze.
It is highly unlikely in the long history of the Finn Gold Cup that seven sailors have been in with a chance of winning the title going into the final race. This unusual situation unfolded today at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais, Portugal, which was to prove as exciting for spectators as it was mind-boggling for the commentators trying to work through the various scenarios and keep everyone up-to-date.
The Medal Race was scheduled to start at 16:30, but before then the final races for the gold and silver fleets were attempted out on course area 4. For the remaining sailors left in the gold fleet, there was still the question of nine places at the 2008 Olympics to sort out. In contrast to the past few days, the day started with very light winds, although by the time racing began at just after 16:30, it had built to a solid 15 knots.
Gold and Silver
However the gold and silver fleets were not so lucky. Sailed further offshore, the wind was not quite so helpful as for the Medal Race. The silver fleet was finally abandoned after 2 hours of trying, but the gold fleet got their race in. Mathias BOHN (GER) who was lying last in the gold fleet going into this race, banged the left hand corner hard and led round the course to win, followed by Brendan CASEY (AUS), Rafal SZUKIEL (POL), Mark ANDREWS (GBR) and Zach RAILEY (USA). This means the other nine nations qualified for Qingdao in addition to the ten already qualified from yesterday are: FIN, FRA, NZL POL, USA, CZE, BRA, IRL and NOR.
The medal race was quite a spectacle and took place within sight of the breakwater with TV cameras, a helicopter, live online footage and a large flotilla of support boats and spectators circling the fleet like expectant fathers.
At the start, Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) crossed the line next to the committee boat and immediately tacked for the right hand side of the course. This decision cost him any chance of a medal. He was soon followed to the right by Ed WRIGHT (GBR) and POSTMA. Then the wind started to go left and it looked bad for these three. POSTMA bailed out and took a loss to get across to the left. PAPATHANASIOU and WRIGHT kept going. When WRIGHT finally tacked back, he was well behind the pack. PAPATHANASIOU went event further to the right before tacking.
On the left side of the course TRUJILLO, Anthony NOSSITER (AUS) and VINCEC were sailing high on a left hand lift and looked to be well ahead. On the right PAPATHANASIOU, Marin MISURA (CRO) and WRIGHT were still suffering from the left hand shift.
Then the middle started looking good as Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) emerged in the lead as the two sides came together and those on the left suffered a bit, but not as much as those on the right. Round the first mark it was SWE, AUS, NED, SLO, DEN, ESP, GBR, GRE, CRO and CAN. At this point, POSTMA held the winning position.
On the first downwind NOSSITER, Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) and TRUJILLO favoured the right side while VINCEC and WRIGHT went to the left. BIRGMARK calmly sailed down the middle and still maintained his lead round the leeward gate, while VINCEC had moved up to second. TRUJILLO was down in sixth. VINCEC was now looking at the gold medal if he could hang onto this position.
The second beat changed everything. With regular shifts coming through, it was paying to take every one. WRIGHT, HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN and MISURA gambled on the right again and lost. The other seven boats played the middle left and gradually TRUJILLO began to make up ground. Halfway up the beat BIRGMARK was still ahead, but then TRUJILLO broke out to the right and came back on a massive right hander that put him in the lead. WRIGHT and HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN also looked to benefit from this shift, but at just the wrong moment the wind cruelly went left again and the boats coming across from the left easily crossed ahead.
On the middle-left PAPATHANASIOU was trying every trick in the book to make up some distance on the leaders, tacking on every shift coming through. To some extent he succeeded but then along with NOSSITER ended up too far to the left to capitalize on it when another big shift came in from the right. For a while they looked good coming into the top mark on a large left hand shift which left the boats who had gambled on the extreme right POSTMA, WRIGHT and VINCEC looking in trouble. But then the wind went back to the right again.
The final downwind leg offered little chance of comebacks although the sailors were giving it everything. The leaders headed right while VINCEC and WRIGHT tried the left. BIRGMARK was more to the middle but maintained second place down the relatively short leg. POSTMA was catching both of them and had the leg been a little longer, we could have been writing a different story.
TRUJILLO crossed the line to the jubilant shouts of his fellow Spanish Finn sailors who had stopped on the way in from their silver fleet race. POSTMA's third place was enough to take the silver medal while a fifth from VINCEC gave him the bronze by just two points. Yesterday, the sailors joked that the final order would probably be the same order as the Medal Race, and for the top three this proved to be the case.
So, TRUJILLO becomes only the third Spaniard to win the Finn World Championship after Joaquin BLANCO in 1977 and Jose DORESTE in 1987. Four years ago in Cadiz, he watched victory slip away in the closing stages of the final race as Ben AINSLIE (GBR) recovered from 35th at the first mark to final finish right behind TRUJILLO to take the title for the second time. Last year he came very close too, but again lost it I the closing stages. For TRUJILLO who has kept up his Finn sailing while being a member of the +39 America's Cup team a win this year is a dream come true.
TRUJILLO said, 'I am really happy. If I lost it today, it would be the third time I would have lost it on the final day. It has been one of my main ambitions to try and win a Gold Cup at least once in my life. On the second upwind I was a bit lucky. I took a left shift in pressure and crossed to right. I was the only one with this pressure. I kept going to the right and crossed my fingers and hoped for a right shift I was lucky and it went right again. Then on the downwind, after PJ passed me yesterday on the finish, I was pleased to stay ahead today.'
TRUJILLO then paid tribute to the other sailors, 'Most of them held positions at some point that would put them on the podium. I also think everyone watching has seen a very exciting week here in Cascais. We need to try to choose venues like this that provide great wind conditions.'
POSTMA has justified his form so far this season with a silver medal. He won more races than any other sailor here, but a bad choice out of the start left him playing catch up, and perhaps to much to do. His downwind speed here has been devastating and will pose a very real threat to all Finn sailors next year. POSTMA paid tribute to TRUJILLO, 'Rafa was the best on the day. I enjoyed this regatta very much, and I'm really, really happy with the silver. On the final downwind I thought that I was going to get him, it was close, close close. Very exciting.'
For VINCEC, who is one of the recipients of an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship, the bronze medal here rounds off a superb season in the Finn, with several regatta victories early in the year and a great stepping stone for him towards the Olympics next year. VINCEC said, 'I thought you had to sail AC before you can take gold in the Finn World Championship, so anybody want me? It was perfect this week, very exciting racing, especially the last downwind today. But I am very happy with third.'
The Finn class has always prided itself on being at the forefront of innovation and development, even from its earliest days, and that has not changed much to this day. Out on the water today spectators may have noticed a strange looking appendage attached to the rear deck of the Finns in the Medal Race. Although several classes have been looking at this technology, the Finn is the only class in Cascais to have solved many of the problems. Gus MILLER (USA) explained, 'Three of the Finns in today's Medal Race carried on-board cameras to record the action close up. We have been developing this technology for a while now and hope to be able to present some really interesting footage of the racing. The other seven Finns will be carrying dummies of the same weight and size, so there is no disadvantage to any boat.'
Trial runs with an earlier model were carried out at the Europeans on Lake Balaton. Then after advice from the Jury and measurement officials, the design was modified and the whole assembly now fits inside the extension of the rudder. 'This, together with the way the assembly is constructed should limit contact with other boats if they come too close to the rudder, although the Jury has declared that the frames do actually constitute part of the boat.'
MILLER stated, 'We have a few technical issues to sort out, but this will provide a never seen before view into the cockpit of a Finn during the heat of battle. It should be fascinating.'
The frames have actually been built by a US based company that also makes carbon helicopter blades. 'They have been designed for strength and to be light. A Nomex base is clamped to the deck with clips round the gunwale and elastic bungee cord into the cockpit. The two supporting arms are constructed using a complex lay up of carbon which is virtually indestructible. The whole camera mount weighs less than 500 grams, so it will have a negligible impact on performance.'
He said, 'We originally developed this technology to help with training and clinics. Watching the sailor in action and the way the rig works provides a very useful analytical insight into problems areas. Several of the sailors have already bought frames and cameras to use in their own training programmes.'
A bullet camera is mounted in a protected position on the ends of the arms with a cable connecting it to a waterproof box containing a camcorder located in the cockpit. After the sailors come ashore this material is retrieved and edited ready for broadcast. MILLER added, 'They are so light that most of the good guys are quite prepared to sail with them in races anyway.'
Made For TV Finn Sailing
By Robert Deaves
After today's up and down racing, the Finn medal race tomorrow is about as close as it's possible to get. The top seven sailors are within just five points of each other and each has a shot at the world title.
You can't make up this stuff. The 2007 Finn World Championship has remained unbelievably tight all the way through and today was no exception. Any sailor looking to build a points margin going into tomorrow's Medal Race came back today disappointed, with most sailors in the top ten picking up at least one high score.
The overnight leader Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) got a 4 and 35. Fourth placed overnight Chris COOK (CAN) got a 2 and DNF while fourth overnight Ed WRIGHT (GBR) placed 19 and 4 and seventh placed overnight Gasper VINCEC (SLO) placed 1 and 33. This has left the top seven boats within just five points of each other going into tomorrow's Medal Race and means that there is a fairly good chance that whoever wins the Medal Race wins the 2007 Finn World Championship.
With the racing today on course area five, the fleet were expecting big winds and big waves again and, although the wind remained shifty and patchy, for the most part the winds were moderate to strong. The race officer set three rounds of windward-leeward course.
In the first race today which finally started after a 50 minute postponement to allow the wind to settle down to a solid 20 knots a large right-hand shift half way up the first beat left VINCEC and Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) in a great position on the right hand side of the course. VINCEC rounded first and went onto win the race by a comfortable margin, with excellent offwind speed. On the second round COOK pulled through TRUJILLO to take second. Other contenders such as WRIGHT and Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) were buried mid-fleet and could find no way out. Series leader PAPATHANASIOU came home in fourth, and just retained the overall championship lead. However all that was about to change.
The second race looked like it be a repeat of the first, but this time the leaders emerged from the middle of the course with the winner of Saturday's first race, Marin MISURA (CRO) taking an early lead round the top mark followed by Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) and WRIGHT . Those who took the previously favoured right hand side were left with a lot of catching up to do. These included VINCEC, PAPATHANASIOU and COOK.
The final upwind brought a change though. HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN explained, 'At the final leeward gate I went to the right hand one looking downwind and Ed and Marin went to the left hand one. Then the wind went left a bit and I picked up a bit on them. Slowly it went further until I was right behind the Croatian. Then coming into the top mark, I got a few right shifts right to take the lead and I had a good offwind leg to take the win. The first race was tough though. I ended up 11th after I was stuck in the middle when the wind went right.'
VINCEC's story is quite the reverse. 'In the first race, the wind was like Saturday, when the right paid. I was sure it was the right way to go from the start and I was faster than Rafa, so managed to win.' In the second raced of the day he was nearly last. 'I was trying everything at the start but it was not happening, I was nearly last but I had Emilios behind me! I needed to get better than 6th to make a difference'
This means that PAPATHANASIOU now has to count his 12th from day two and drops to sixth overall. Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED) takes the lead on 19 points, with TRUJILLO and COOK on 20 points, WRIGHT on 21, COOK on 21, VINCEC on 22, PAPATHANASIOU on 23 and HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN on 24.
HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN summed up, 'Anyone can win the gold. It will make great TV.'
Get to know the sailor: Michael MAIER (CZE)
The silver fleet also sailed two races in these tricky conditions. Going into tomorrow's final race, Sander WILLEMS (NED) leads fellow Dutchman Stefan DE VRIES (NED) by nine points after placing third and first today. WILLEMS lost the first race in the closing stages after a long battle with Piotr KULA (POL). Although none of those in the silver fleet can qualify their nation for the Olympics there is still the small matter of pride.
Those sailors who have reached the Medal Race have guaranteed their country a place in next year's Olympics. However for some here, a good placing counts for even more. By placing in the top 10, Anthony NOSSITER (AUS) has already guaranteed his place in Qingdao next summer. For TRUJILLO, tomorrow's race determines his national federation athlete grant, and he stands to lose or gain some 38,000 euros depending on his result. However for him the win is more important than the financial rewards.
The top ten sailors are each from a different nation, so these ten NED, ESP, SLO, GBR, CAN, GRE, DEN, CRO, SWE AND AUS have already qualified their country for a place in Qingdao next year. The other nine places are still wide open, with FRA, FIN and NZL leading the race. The final gold fleet race tomorrow, scheduled for 14:40 will decide the remaining nations to qualify at this event.
Tomorrow's Medal Race at 16.30 will undoubtedly be a show. Currently the wind is kicking through Cascais bay at well over 30 knots, so the sailors are hoping there is a not a repeat of Monday when the Star and Tornado Medal Races were abandoned.
For those who like mathematics, there are many options for tomorrow's race. If POSTMA, TRUJILLO or VINCEC win the race they become World Champion, irrespective of what anyone else does. For WRIGHT or COOK to win they need POSTMA to be at least two places behind him. For PAPATHANASIOU to win, he must put three boats between himself and POSTMA and two between himself and any of the top five boats. It is certainly going to be an exciting end to what has been the closest Finn World Championships in recent years.
High Winds Keep Fleets Ashore
By Robert Deaves
After last night's very windy conditions, this morning dawned bright and breezy at the ISAF Sailing World Championships. In fact it was very breezy. Over 35 knots was recorded on the more sheltered inshore course area 1 where the Star and Tornado fleets were due to sail their Medal Races today. On the outside course, and especially on course area 4 where the Finns were due to start their gold and silver fleet racing, it was blowing considerably more. The fleets were kept ashore, despite the predictable displays of bravado from the Finn sailors.
Throughout the day the wind buffeted the marina and swept chairs along the decking like plastic cups. With not even a cloud in the sky, the deafening flapping of the press tent was interspersed with hourly updates on the wind strength and the announcement of the next fleet to have its racing cancelled. By 18:00, the Finn sailors had been kept waiting for seven hours, but the wind on course four was still over 30 knots, so the organizers admitted defeat and the sailors were finally sent home.
What this means for the sailors is that tomorrow there will be two races sailed as per schedule and that the lost races will not be re-sailed. Race director Henry VAN DER AAT emphasised at the final press conference tonight that only classes that have sailed less than the minimum required by the sailing instruction will play catch up. The Finns have already sailed five, which was the minimum to constitute an opening series.
Get to know the sailor: Chris COOK (CAN)
Chris COOK (CAN) elaborated on the benefits of a combined world championship, 'Outside of Canada, we don't get to intermix much with other Canadian sailors. I think we have a pretty close team which has got tighter over the past year, but outside of the Canadian team and the Finn class it's pretty hard to keep tabs on everything and that's why I like this format because you get to meet top sailors in other classes.'
'I also like the format we have here this week.' Two daily allocated fleets of about 40 sail a opening series to qualify for a gold and silver fleet for two days before the final medal race. 'I've always been a fan of the split fleet format such as we have used in Holland at the now Breitling Regatta. It's good for me because it gives me a little bit more room to manoeuvre. I know that some of the Laser sailors coming into the class also like it, as it gives them a advantage over others who are more used to larger fleets. I do think there are a lot of things that should change about the Finn Gold Cup format. For example I think we should get rid of the triangle courses. No one else does that any more, so it's a problem. Perhaps it is time to move on.'
Speaking about the week he said, 'So far I have only made two mistakes in the series, and that's stopped me from being in a winning position right now, so that's pretty good. For the rest of the regatta I just want to keep doing what I've been doing so far, and then go into the medal race with a chance to win.' Then he added wryly, 'But I guess that's everyone's plan right now with such a tight series. It's a shame we lost today. It's a bit of wasted day. I could have been getting more rest.'
As for the Medal Race itself, COOK has some serious worries about the way they are conducted. 'Well to start with, I've been at the losing end of a bunch of them. However, I do think that the Medal Race idea is a good one but that the double points is wrong. I don't think they should do that. It's almost like they are looking for an upset, looking to get on video the disappointment of somebody losing unjustly. I don't like that idea. I like the idea of the top ten going into a race at the end, but at the end of the day if someone goes into the medal race with a ten point lead they really deserve to win the event.'
'It doesn't even matter how long the race turns out to be. You can have a half hour race or an hour race like we did in Holland and it can turn into a crap shoot just the same. You just have to make it a fair race. It seems to me that there is so much pressure to have a medal race that they do it at all costs. Sometimes it seems like if the wind drops to zero knots, it is kept going even though it's no longer a fair race. I think it just favours the media a little too much.'
Racing continues weather permitting tomorrow, Tuesday, at the same time of 13:00 with two races scheduled on course area 5, the outer course that was the scene of Saturday's extreme racing. Some Finn sailors and certainly the photographers are hoping for more of the same, but perhaps a bit less wind than today.
World Champion In The Waiting?
By Robert Deaves
For many sailors here in Cascais, Greek sailor Emilios PAPATHANASIOU is highly tipped to take the Finn title this week at the ISAF Sailing World Championships. As the most experienced and medalled sailor in the fleet, one would already have expected him to have won a world title but it has continued to elude him time after time. However, he is undoubtedly the best sailor in recent years never to have won a World Championship. Could this be his year?
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POSTMA Dominates Big Breeze Day
By Robert Deaves
After complaining about lack of wind yesterday, the Finn sailors got their just rewards with two races on course area 5 in what can only be described as awesome conditions for Finn sailing. With winds up to 37 knots and big seas rolling downwind, most sailors merely tried to survive, but for some, these were exactly the conditions they were waiting for and they loved it. Winner of the second yellow fleet race Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) commented, 'Finally we have had some proper Finn racing after so much light weather this year.'
Starting on time at 13:00, yellow fleet sailed two laps of an outer trapezoid while blue fleet sailed the inner trapezoid course. While the upwind legs were a physical challenge, the downwind legs provided some of the most exhilarating sailing the fleet has had for years. There were many capsizes including Joao SIGNORINI (BRA) who went in six times and the overnight leader Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) who capsized in race 1 while near the front and spent so much time upside down that he ended up in last place. However, World Champions are made of sterner stuff and he pulled back through the fleet to finally finish an impressive tenth.
After the first race Zach RAILEY (USA) declared, 'I could have done with a seatbelt today. It was wild.' Chief measurer Juri SARASKIN commented, 'The Finn is an animal in these conditions.' It was certainly some show; it was what the Finn was made for.
For the second race, the race officer decided to keep the fleets on the inshore and less exposed course and ran a windward leeward course which allowed the support fleet to respond more quickly to casualties and there were still plenty of them with upturned hulls littering the course like albino hippos, even though the wind only reached 25 knots.
The right side of the course paid all day and in the first race Matthias BOHN (GER) got it right to lead round the top mark. Marin MISURA (CRO) took the lead offwind and powered away to win the race by a remarkable margin. Even he had trouble though, almost losing it just yards from the finish line when a massive wave knocked him sideways and almost capsized him. Gasper VINCEC (SLO) had struggled on the first beat and rounded about 10th, but displayed excellent speed downwind to pull through to second. PAPATHANASIOU took third place.
For the second race, TRUJILLO emerged at the top mark in the lead followed by HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN and VINCEC. SIGNORINI made up for his disappointing morning by moving ahead on the next lap and finally finished third after Trujillo took the lead at the final windward mark and PAPATHANASIOU passed the Brazilian on the final downwind.
Get to know the sailor: Joao SIGNORINI (BRA)
Yellow fleet today belonged to one man POSTMA who excelled in his favourite conditions. However first round the top mark was Ismael BRUNO (FRA). BRUNO who actually comes from Martinique led for the first two laps and finished fourth. He then rounded off a great day with a sixth and now sits in 15th place, well inside the qualification zone for Olympic places. POSTMA finally won the very close race from Ed WRIGHT (GBR) and Dan SLATER (NZL).
POSTMA clearly found race two more to his liking, leading round the first mark by a considerable margin and extending on every leg to take his third consecutive race win of the series. POSTMA was followed by Chris BRITTLE (GBR) and Chris COOK (CAN). While BRITTLE dropped back COOK stayed in second to the finish and now lies fourth overall. Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) rounded off a good day with a third to add to a fifth in the morning race.
Get to know the sailor: Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO)
The Finn class is delighted to welcome its first ever sailor from Venezuela. Johnny BILBAO (VEN) joined the Finn fleet for the first time in Palma this year and is now in Cascais trying to qualify for China and also to prove himself to his national federation.
'This is the second time I have raced the Finn and I'm really enjoying it. It is different to the Laser, a much bigger boat, so for me it's better as I am 100 kg. I was struggling to keep my weight down enough for the Laser.'
His determination to prove himself is very evident. 'My plan is to go to China for the Olympics so my goal this week is to qualify Venezuela for one of the places there. However, I have no funding at the moment so I need to prove to my federation that I have what it takes and can make it. I chartered a boat in Palma, but that was not very good, so I made a big sacrifice and bought a new boat for this event so I could compete with everyone else. I didn't really have any other option.'
'I have a lot to learn about the Finn, especially on the downwind sailing which is very different to the Laser. It is much harder. However my biggest problem so far this week has been getting good starts. I am timing it wrong and starting in the back row. Everyone goes forward so quickly and I get left behind. However, I am really enjoying the strong winds and I am learning all the time. Cascais is a very nice place for sailing and the waves are similar to those we have in Venezuela.'
BILBAO is currently lying in 46th place overall, after placing 18th and 19th in today's races.
Series leader PAPATHANASIOU stressed the need to be careful in these conditions. 'It was really windy out there today, especially on the outer loop where it was over 35 knots. Sometimes I though I was about to break something because I was going too fast or trying too hard, so I told myself to keep quiet, there's no need to capsize or break my boat because we have many more races to go. The PRO did a great job today and I'm really happy with how today went for me.'
He is leading the series on seven points with POSTMA just one point behind. TRUJILLO is in third place on ten points. PAPATHANASIOU continued, 'With the two fleet system we have here everything is so very close.' In fact there are only 14 points separating the top 10 at this stage. 'That should make it really exciting both for us racing and for everyone watching.'
For those interested in such things, there were seven requests for redress for yesterday's race which some sailors thought unfair due to massive wind differential across the course,. However the International Jury disagreed and denied redress to all requests.
After three tough days, the fleet are grateful that tomorrow is a lay day. Today, Saturday, was the last day of the opening series for the Finn class. With yesterday's abandoned race not being resailed, the five races will decide who goes into the gold and silver fleets for Monday and Tuesday and who can no longer qualify their country for the 2008 Olympics. Currently there are 24 nations in the gold fleet and the top 19 of those the places available here for 2008 are in the top 24 placings overall. There is still a long way to go, but any of those hoping to qualify their country must realistically try to be in the top 25 at the end of the event.
Racing for the Finns continues on Monday at 13:00.
HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN leads the flying Finns
By Robert Deaves
Day two of the Finn world championship in Cascais brought very tricky wind conditions and a few upsets. Only one race was sailed today with wins going to Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) and Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED). Defending World Champion Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) placed second in his race to take the lead overnight.
The Finns had a late start today in Cascais. They share a course area with the Ynglings and today it was the keelboat's turn to go first. This seemed like good news for the Finns as early in the day the winds were light, and with the first Finn start being scheduled for 16:20, it gave the stronger northerly winds more time to become established. After sailing on the more inshore course area 3 yesterday, today the Finns were out of course area 4, which is more exposed to the prevailing conditions with generally stronger winds and larger waves. However, what looked like promising conditions turned into one very up and down race, that left a few of the front runners picking up high scores.
The event leader after day one, Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) choose the right hand side of the beat and paid dearly, rounding the top mark buried in the 30s. He could only recover to finish 12th. Meanwhile BIRGMARK took the left hand side and found better pressure to lead round the top mark while the boats on the right were left floundering in hardly any wind. From there he went on to win the race by a substantial margin.
BIRGMARK said, 'The conditions were really tough, and a bit similar to race 1 yesterday. I tried to look up the course more and see what was going on. To me there looked like less wind on the right so I went to the left and tacked to the left of the fleet. A couple of boats went further than me, but I just managed to round the top mark first. The reach was good for me as I extended by 100 metres and then gained more downwind. On the third beat I got a bit nervous as rounded the bottom mark in hardly any wind and then saw lots of pressure coming down the course. I tried to stay in the middle top protect my position, and this time the wind came in from where it was at the start.'
BIRGMARK locked into this shift and went on to win the race by around 2 minutes. In fact the variable conditions had split the fleet enormously, with a whole beat between first and last place.
Second place went to Oleksiy BORYSOV (UKR) with Chris COOK (CAN ) in third. COOK rounded the top mark in sixth and then bizarrely was flagged for pumping while the Oscar flag was still up for free pumping. He said, 'In a strange way it worked in my favour as I then took some shifts I may otherwise not have taken, and which moved me up to third. The Jury apologised for the misunderstanding later.'
Get to know the sailor: Waclaw SZUKIEL (POL)
The best thing so far about Cascais is...the really nice town, with nice buildings and nice people, and nice places to visit. The Portuguese are sailors too so it's nice to be here with them.
If I were in charge of sailing I'd...listen to sailors and find out what they wanted.
In contrast, the blue fleet had a much more even race. The wind went through the range, but was slightly steadier in direction than the yellow fleet had experienced. The boats who took the right side of the course emerged first at the top mark with Tapio NIRKKO (FIN) leading Chris BRITTLE (GBR) and HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN .
HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN was soon in the lead on the free pumping first leg with POSTMA in hot pursuit. These two battled at the front for most of the race, with POSTMA moving ahead on the second downwind and leading to the finish. HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN came in a very close second, with Gasper VINCEC (SLO) in third. NIRKKO finished fourth.
BRITTLE, who finally finished in ninth place said later, 'It was a bit of a head up day. You really needed to look out of the boat and see what was going on.'
Get to know the sailor: Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED)
Although the main issue here for some is qualifying their country for one of the 19 places awarded here for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition a further six more will be awarded after the Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne in February many countries here are also using this event as part of their sailor selection process for both the Olympic Test Event this August and the Olympics next year.
For some sailors, this is leading to some tense racing as they try to stay consistent in the challenging conditions here in Cascais. At the moment Tim GOODBODY (IRL) has up the upper hand over Aaron O'GRADY (IRL), while the Croatians Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) and Marin MISURA (CRO) are neck and neck. For the SZUKIEL brothers from Poland, this event is one of the qualifiers for 2008, although the younger Rafal has already been selected for the pre-Olympics next month.
Two Indians are sailing their first Finn Gold Cup here Nitin MONGIA (IND) and Nachhatar JOHAL (IND) and this event will decide who goes to Qingdao next month. For the two French sailors here Ismael BRUNO (FRA) and Jonathan LOBERT (FRA) the news that the top French Finn sailor Guiallame FLORENT (FRA) (who was the favourite to qualify for Qingdao and finished eighth in Athens) has dropped out of the class was a surprise and has left them fighting for selection between themselves.
It should be as interesting to watch these battles develop throughout the week as the battle is sure to be for the top ten. However one group of sailors who seem very relaxed are the boys from the +39 America's Cup boat, who returned to the Finn following their exit from the AC after the round robins. The four sailors here are Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP), Michael MAIER (CZE), Anthony NOSSITER (AUS) and BRITTLE and all revelled in yesterday's windy conditions to all place in the top ten in both races quite something in this very competitive fleet. Today BRITTLE and NOSSITER also finished in the top ten. The training they did in Finns in Valencia is clearly paying off now.
By the time the first race had finished, the wind had increased to 25 knots and the fleets looked set for a fantastic race in the rapidly building sea. The race officer tried to move the course further inshore, but then the wind started to decease and shift so he sent the sailors home.
Racing for the Finns will continue tomorrow, Saturday at 13:00, before the rest day on Sunday.
The Waiting Is Over...
by Robert Deaves
The 2007 Finn World Championships and the first opportunity to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition started in near perfect conditions in Cascais, Portugal with race wins for Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE), Chris COOK (CAN) and Ed WRIGHT (GBR)
Racing today was scheduled to start on course three at 13:00, however the earlier promising wind had dropped to almost nothing by the start time. Racing finally got underway at 14:00 as the offshore breeze gradually built to reach 25 knots by the times the Finns headed for home some four hours later. The racing was sailed in two fleets, yellow and blue, started 10 minutes apart. The first off, the yellow fleet, sailed an outer trapezoid course, while the blue fleet sailed an inner trapezoid course.
The first race for the yellow fleet started in 7-10 knots of wind. PAPATHANASIOU couldn't have hoped for a better start to his 2007 Finn World Championship campaign. In the first race he rounded the first mark in seventh place and gradually worked his way up the fleet to the front and then led round the final offwind legs to the finish. In the second race he led from start to finish, extending his lead to end the day with a perfect score and lead the championship with 2 points.
The early leader in race 1, Liiv HARLES (EST) was followed by Alexander MUMYGA (BUL) and Ricardo CORDOVANI (ITA). PAPATHANASIOU was in the lead by the second windward mark and never looked threatened, while Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) worked up from a poor first beat into second place and Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) recovered well to finish third. Lots of high ranked sailors were struggling mid-fleet.
Michael HRUBY (CZE) was close on PAPATHANASIOU's transom in race two but could only watch while the Greek sailor sailed away from the fleet. With HRUBY dropping to fourth by the finish, HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN had pulled through to second while Brendan CASEY (AUS) sailed well to place third.
Get to know the sailor: Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE)
Second placed overnight, WRIGHT described racing in blue fleet. He said, 'The first race was very tricky as the wind went back and forth and neither side really paid that much. Half way up the first beat there was a big right hand shift that left a lot of us stranded on the left. I managed to get back to fourth, taking places both downwind and upwind, but doing three laps helped a bit.'
Michael MAIER (CZE) one of the many returning Finn sailors from the +39 America's Cup Challenger was the early leader in race one until he was eventually wound in by COOK who went on to win the opening race.
The second race was started in 10-15 knots of breeze and COOK again took the lead. Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) who was third in the first race took over COOK's lead by the second lap, but then WRIGHT took his turn and led to the finish. WRIGHT continued, 'In the second race I got a reasonable start, and had a really nice race. A couple of times the right paid and a couple of times the left paid, but I just tried to stay with everyone else really.' Summing up his day he said, 'Overall, I am pretty happy with today as I was really just trying to survive. Course three can be a bit tricky, and I think we actually got some good weather out there today it can be quite random at times.'
One casualty of the stronger wind was Dan SLATER (NZL) who after an average performance in race 1, rounded the top mark in fifth, capsized and let the whole fleet sail past him before he got his boat upright again. He later said, 'Now I have capsized the Finn twice in my life and both times were at world championships.' SLATER has recently been elected to the ISAF Athletes' Commission as the Finn representative. He lies in 32nd place overnight, on equal points with the 2007 European Champion Eduard SKORNYAKOV (RUS).
Get to know the sailor: Anthony NOSSITER (AUS)
Close On Points
Looking ahead to the racing, Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED), who is lying in 14th place after a 5 and 13 today said, 'The conditions here are just about perfect. It's different if you are on one of the outer courses where there is lots of wind to the inner course which is more shifty and difficult, so its going to be really interesting sailing.'
Behind PAPATHANASIOU, the next three sailors are all on 5 points. The 2006 European Champion WRIGHT scored a 4, 1, while the defending World Champion HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN scored a 3, 2 and the 2004 Olympic silver medallist TRUJILLO scored a 3, 2. Two more races for the Finn class are scheduled for tomorrow, Friday at the slightly later time of 16:20.
Over 1,300 sailors from 76 nations are competing at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships, from 28 June-13 July in Cascais, Portugal. 'The Wind Is Calling' is the official motto for the 2007 Worlds. The Championships are the principal qualification regatta for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, with 75% of all national places to be decided.
For all the news on the ISAF Sailing World Championships 2007 CLICK HERE.