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12 September 2005, 03:50 pm
AINSLIE Leads After Challenging First Day In Moscow
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Finn Gold Cup 2005
Moscow, Russia

The 2005 ISAF Grade W Finn Gold Cup got underway in Moscow, Russia today with two challenging races sailed in near perfect conditions. A complete change in weather overnight saw a healthy and relatively steady eight to 14 knots breeze from the southeast. After two races, defending champion Ben AINSLIE (GBR) narrowly leads Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE).
With the wind aligned along the main axis of Lake Prestovskoe, the race committee on each of the two courses could set long legs. Both fleets sailed three windward leeward loops for each race with the maximum wind strength coming half way through the first set of races. At the second windward mark in the first race, the wind had increased in excess of twelve knots, just enough to allow free pumping on both courses and the Finn sailors had great fun. However, the flag remained in its bag for the afternoon race.

The green fleet were racing on course two, the furthest from the day marina, and consequently saw the steadiest winds of the day. It also saw the first showdown between two of the main favourites for this event. 2001 European Champion PAPATHANASIOU led race one from start to finish. Starting at the pin end he was never headed throughout the race. Olympic Champion AINSLIE rounded the first mark in fifth place and gradually worked his way up to second by the finish.

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had a strong first day in Russia
Getty Images
The second race again saw AINSLIE playing catch up. Josh BEAVER (AUS) rounded the first mark in the lead followed by Soren HOLM (DEN) and AINSLIE. At the bottom mark Thomas LAURSEN (DEN) had taken the lead, which he held until 100 metres from the final upwind mark, when AINSLIE moved in front to lead to the finish.

The yellow fleet raced on course one, set just a short sail from the day marina and with the windward mark set just below the dam at the southeast end of the lake. Both right and left paid at times, and the sailing proved challenging for some. The first race saw Peter-Jan POSTMA (NED), an ex Laser sailor in his first Gold Cup, leading round the first mark followed by Gasper VINCEC (SLO) and number one in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN). POSTMA led until the second windward when the O flag was raised. VINCEC took the lead on the free pumping run and led into the finish followed by Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) and HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN.

Race two was sailed in slightly less wind, with a large shift out of the start favouring those at the committee boat end. Edward WRIGHT (GBR) led Dan SLATER (NZL) and Tim CARVER (GBR) into the top mark. These three battled down the run with CARVER just (probably) ahead at the leeward gate. However on the next beat SLATER and WRIGHT gained some distance and fought all the way to the finish. BIRGMARK just pipped CARVER on the third beat to take third.

With today's forecast of very little wind, the sunny, windy conditions were a surprise to many, but a welcome one nevertheless. The day was challenging not because of the expected fluky conditions, but because of tired legs and arms after a hard day's sailing. The racing was tight in places, with the corners of the beats well up on dry land, but finding the right shifts and the better pressure paid big dividends. The race committees did an excellent job today timing the races to perfection. With a suggested duration of 75 minutes, the first boat on the green course finished after 74 minutes in race one and then 75 minutes in race two. Not bad.

While most of the fleet are using the supplied equipment, some sailors have opted to bring their own rig. All underwent the same rigorous measurement procedure and it will be interesting to see how many supplied rigs feature high up in the results.

There are ten Russian entries in this year's Gold Cup and the number of entries from Eastern European countries is very high indeed with Bulgaria and Lithuainia fielding entrants in addition to the usual countries such as Belarus, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Estonia.

The forecast for the week includes more wind for tomorrow but also - for those sitting at home in front of their computers - temperatures are forecast to plummet to zero on Wednesday morning!

Race three is scheduled to start at midday Tuesday.

Top Ten After Two Races

Pos Nation Helm Fleet R1 R2 Pts
1 GBR Ben AINSLIE Green 2 1 3
2 GRE Emilios PAPATHANASIOU Green 1 3 4
3 SWE Daniel BIRGMARK Yellow 2 3 5
4 DEN Soren HOLM Green 4 4 8
5 NED Peter-Jan POSTMA Yellow 4 5 9
6 NZL Dan SLATER Yellow 10 1 11
7 IRL David BURROWS Yellow 5 7 12
8 CRO Ivan KLAKOVIC GASPIC Yellow 6 6 12
9 USA Darrell PECK Green 6 9 15
10 GBR Edward WRIGHT Yellow 14 2 16
Robert Deaves (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Action from day one:© Event Media
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