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9 September 2005, 09:33 am
AINSLIE Goes For Record Fourth Consecutive Title
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Finn Gold Cup 2005
Moscow, Russia

The 2005 ISAF Grade W Finn Gold Cup and Junior Finn Gold Cup will open in Moscow, Russia on Saturday with 100 sailors from 33 countries taking part. Olympic gold medallist Ben AINSLIE (GBR) starts the event as favourite after his recent commanding victory at the Europeans, although his lack of practice this year and the light and shifty winds expected could see the tide turn in favour of one the pretenders to his crown.
Registration and measurement will continue through to Sunday with the first race scheduled for Monday 12 September and continuing through until next Sunday 18 September.

The hosting club is the Moscow Sailing School, with the racing scheduled to take place on Pestovskoe Lake, about 30 km north of the centre of Moscow. The 49er Class have just held their World Championship at the same venue and now it is the turn of the Finn class - these are the first two Olympic class World Championships to be held in Russian waters.

The organizers have supplied all the Finns for competitors, who were also free to bring their own rigs in a laid-on container from the Europeans in Kalmar, Sweden.

Defending champion AINSLIE is back to try and win the event for a record breaking fourth time in a row. After wins in Athens, Greece in 2002, Cadiz, Spain in 2003 and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2004, as well as Olympic Gold in Athens last summer, AINSLIE has taken a step back from Finn racing this year. However, he emphatically won the ISAF Grade 1 Holland Regatta in Medemblik and the ISAF Grade C1 Finn European Championship with virtually no training. He is viewed by most of the fleet as the firm favourite, but with the light and shifty conditions expected, nothing is certain.

AINSLIE commented, 'Winning the Europeans was a bit of a shock, but I guess it's like riding a bike. I hope to be in the frame in Moscow. Things have gone well this season but winning big championships is all about performing when it matters.'

Also present in Moscow is the 2004 Olympic silver medallist, Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) and 2001 European Champion, Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE). Both have two wins a piece in ISAF Graded events this year and provide one of the greatest threat to AINSLIE's dominance at the moment.

However there are a large number of sailors capable of high finishes including number one in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) and Gasper VINCEC (SLO), who has hit form this year with a third at the Europeans and a win at the ISAF Grade 1 Kieler Woche in Kiel, Germany. Andrew SIMPSON (GBR) - sixth in Rio and third in Cadiz - is back in the Finn for his first ISAF Graded event since the Spa Regatta last year, whilst Marin MISURA (CRO) comes to Worlds having finished a confidence-boosting fourth at the Europeans.

The fleet has also seen an influx from the Laser class over the past year including Dan SLATER (NZL), who recently finished as runner-up to AINSLIE at the Europeans, 1996 Olympic bronze medallist Peer MOBERG (NOR), Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE), who finished 14th in the Finn in Athens last year and Ed WRIGHT (GBR), who finished third at the ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères this year.

Commenting on the depth of the fleet, SLATER said, 'The fleet is littered with experience and great sailors. There are also some new sailors like myself who have been lucky with the light air season so far. Most of the new guys have all been good in Lasers and other classes so they know how to pick wind shifts and race a fleet but we are all not as good in the boat handling and tuning of the boat. The level is high but it's watered down by sailors like Ben, Rafa and Maier all not spending so much time Finn sailing due to America's Cup sailing, so us new guys can catch up a little.'

The format for this Finn Gold Cup is different to previous events with a two fleet format. Six qualifying races will be sailed (2, 1, 2, 1) over the first four days, followed by a gold/silver split for the final two days (2, 1).

There are also 13 sailors competing for the title of Junior World Champion, and based on performance so far this year Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) is the clear favourite. He followed a third at Kiel Week with a twelfth at the Europeans, well ahead of many experienced helms.

New Finn Class President Balasz HAJDU (HUN) commented, 'It is good to try a new format. However, because of likelihood of extremely shifty winds, equipment will not be a decisive factor. We are expecting light and shifty winds with calm waters, so reliable starts, good pointing and good boat to boat sailing skills will be important as the sailing area will be rather small. Bearing in mind the expected conditions, light, smart sailors with a feel for light winds should do well.'

The first races are scheduled for Monday.

Robert Deaves (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Ben AINSLIE will be looking to continue his dominance of the Finn class at the Worlds:© MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
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