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27 January 2008, 09:49 pm
All Square At Finn Gold Cup
Ben AINSLIE
Ben AINSLIE has moved into a tie for the lead

Finn Gold Cup 2008
Melbourne, Australia

A difficult day four at the Finn Gold Cup for Dan SLATER left the New Zealander tied for the overall lead with four-time World Champion Ben AINSLIE
Two races sailed Sunday in the Finn Gold Cup, brought the regatta favourites close together. Dan SLATER (NZL) is starting to really feel the pressure, although he is still leading the championship, but now on equal points with Ben AINSLIE (GBR). 2005 World Champion and world #1 sailor, Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) is only five points behind the leader after a sixth and a victory in the last race.

2007 World Championship silver medallist, Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED) capitalized on the windier conditions today with a first and a second place bringing the Dutchman into serious contention for the title, one point behind the Dane and six off SLATER. Greek sailor Emilios PAPATHANASIOU slipped from third to eighth overall after collecting a second disqualification in the first race and placing 36th on the second.

Race 6 started with a 12 knots unsettled sea breeze. The start was delayed on the water to adjust to the wind shifts. After a general recall, the race started under black flag very close to the shore…too close for Michael MAIER's (CZE) liking. "I capsized before the start and I broke my mast on the reef", complained MAIER back ashore. The pin end was favoured but the fleet quickly crossed to the right, that is, all the fleet but SLATER, who decided to continue under the cliff to the left side.

"It just kept getting worse! Then there were not many opportunities to pass. I must have gained a few boats downwind", but not enough for the New Zealander, who collected more points in this race than all the others combined! At the front, POSTMA lead the race from start to finish. Marin MISURA (CRO) collected his first top ten result crossing the line in second place in front of Rafal SZUKIEL (POL).

Finally, the strong conditions expected for so long found their way to Port Phillip Bay. The wind had increased to 18-20 knots for the second race sailed with Oscar flag and a triangle course. HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN headed the fleet to the top mark then kept increasing his lead to the finish.

"The regatta is really open now, I look forward tomorrow and more breezy races," declared the Dane.

POSTMA was second in front of Ed WRIGHT (GBR) and AINSLIE. Gasper VINCEC (SLO), who has collected irregular results, was fifth at the finish with SLATER sixth.

"The other guys are coming into the loop too. It isn't just between Ben and I, many are in the game. With another race and then the medal with double points, we still have a long way to go!" declared SLATER when asked about being on equal points with AINSLIE.

Monday's last fleet race will see a fight to qualify for the top ten overall places who will go on to content the Medal Race.

Australian Anthony NOSSITER is in the hot seat in tenth position overall on 77 points. He is tailed by Peer MOBERG from Norway on 79 points, British junior Giles SCOTT on 81 and Tapio NIRKKO (FIN) on 83. Current World Champion Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP) is racing well below his habitual form in 14th place.

The battle for Olympic qualification is going on with the sixth and last place strongly fought for. Ali KEMAL FEKCI (TUR) is getting closer to qualifying Turkey for the last spot after a good day placing tenth in the first race. FEKCI has gained nine places on the overall qualification in 35th position and sixth "unqualified nation". Olexei BORISOV from the Ukraine, only six points behind, is his most direct threat.

In the Junior division, the top three remain unchanged with SCOTT well ahead in 12th position. Piotr KULA (POL) is second Junior in 36th and Frederico MELO (POR) third in 42nd overall. Current Junior World Champion, Jan KURFELD (GER) gained five places today to still be in contention for the podium.

One last fleet race is scheduled for Monday afternoon. Tuesday will be the championship final day with the Medal Race planned to start after the last race for those sailors placed 11th or higher.

Results - click here
Finn Gold Cup - www.sailmelbourne.com.au/event/finngoldcup2008

Corinne McKenzie (As Amended By ISAF)
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