For the first time since the start of the Finn Gold Cup, the lead has changed hands, with four-time World Champion Ben AINSLIE edging into first place.
After an intense race 8 in Melbourne, Ben AINSLIE
(GBR) passed Dan SLATER
(NZL) on the line to get ahead by one point in the overall standings before tomorrow's Medal Race. After finishing behind SLATER, Pieter-Jan POSTMA
(NED) climbed to third overall and Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN
(DEN) is in fourth, after a ninth in today's race. This leaves the top four contenders within ten points going into tomorrow's Medal Race. It will be a four-man battle for the World title.
Today's race, race 8 of the series, was scheduled for 14:30, but did not start until two hours later. After a general recall, the course was postponed to wait for the wind to settle. One hour later, the racing committee decided to move the course further out to catch the breeze. The wind started to fill in and provided a nice race with the wind increasing up to 15 knots.
Sweden's Daniel BIRGMARK
sailed smartly to lead the fleet to the top mark. He stayed in control from start to finish and claimed the race. Ranked #7 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, BIRGMARK has known better days. "It was definitely worth the wait. It is good to finally sail well."
(FRA) and Tim GOODBODY
(IRL) took second and third place. AINSLIE, tenth at the top mark, gradually gained places. Turning fifth onto the run, under Oscar flag allowing for free pumping, AINSLIE stayed close behind SLATER waiting for a good opportunity. A few meters from the finish, AINSLIE gybed to take a wave that propelled him ahead of SLATER.
Thirty-first at the top mark, POSTMA made a huge recovery passing 25 boats to finish sixth in the race.
"It doesn't really matters who from Ben or I passed the other today,"
explained SLATER after racing, "Tomorrow's medal race counting double is minimizing the one point gap between us."
This will not be the first time that the two sailors will be competing for the same title. "This is bringing some old memories of times when Ben and I where racing against each other in the Laser,"
POSTMA is looking forward tomorrow's final Medal Race: "I will prepare myself for an optimum race. I am not going out there just to beat the other guys. I will only focus on my sailing and I want to push my own abilities."
The battle for the Olympic berths will see the last opportunities during the last race tomorrow. Turkey is still placed sixth nation among the countries yet to qualify. Ukraine and Portugal are only 11 and 17 points behind and will try for their last opportunity tomorrow.
The Medal Race is scheduled to start directly after the final race for competitors placed higher than 11th.
Results - click here
Finn Gold Cup - www.sailmelbourne.com.au/event/finngoldcup2008