Great Britain's Ben AINLSIE won a record fifth Finn Gold Cup after a consummate performance in today's Medal Race.
already holds the world record for the number of wins in the World Championship event for this long established and legendary Olympic Class; well ahead of Paul ELVSTROM (two wins), Willi KUHWEIDE, Jorg BRUDER, Lasse HJORTNAES and Fredrik LOOF
, who all had three wins.
And he has Olympic gold medals in both the Laser class (2000) and Finn (2004).
AINSLIE finished just a wave behind British team mate Ed WRIGHT
in the Medal Race, which is restricted to the top ten sailors after eight races in the 82-boat fleet, but well ahead of New Zealander Dan SLATER
, who had been only a point behind him going into the Medal Race.
A fresh 15-knot southwester, with only minor variation in direction, made the race probably the regatta's fairest. The outcome was decided at the start with AINSLIE getting away well towards the middle of the line while SLATER was buried and had to tack off on port early but in disturbed air under the Canadian Chris COOK
WRIGHT cracked the best start towards the pin end of the line while Pieter-Jan POSTMA
(NED), who went into the Medal Race in third place, also looked good off the line towards the pin, but was disqualified as a premature starter.
WRIGHT led around the first mark of the two-round windward-leeward course from AINSLIE with Johan TILLANDER
(SWE) third and SLATER back in eighth place. While the fair breeze presented few passing opportunities SLATER, always fast downwind, improved to fifth to secure the silver medal ahead of Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN
Although AINSLIE had only to finish second to win the regatta, he worked body and boat hard, surfing waves to the finish trying to win the race. "I had a bit of a skid out halfway down that run which wasn't far off a capsize,"
AINSLIE said. "I still wanted to make sure I beat the Dutch guy because anything can happen."
As it did happen POSTMA, unaware he had been disqualified for his premature start, had continued racing.
SLATER explained his poor start: "I saw that PJ [POSTMA] and Ed were pretty well advanced and I thought they were over the line. Then once Ben popped out, I just had to stay with PJ and Jonas to stay in touch for a medal.
"The game was pretty well over."
SLATER, who has been friends with AINSLIE since they raced Laser Radials against each other more than 15 years ago, was the first to congratulate him as they hauled their Finns ashore at Black Rock Yacht Club.
They were still friends? "He's alright, he's not bad for a Kiwi,"
said AINSLIE as they shook hands.
AINSLIE said this World Championship had been the hardest to win of his five along with 2003 when he had a really close tussle with the 2007 World Champion Rafa TRUJILLO
"It went down to the wire in the last race and this one was just as close,"
said AINSLIE. "There's really big strength and depth in the class now and so I am obviously delighted to win it and look forward to lots of hard work up until China."
(AINSLIE has already been named as Great Britain's representative in the Finn class for this year's Olympic Games).
Final points for the top ten are: AINSLIE 39, SLATER 46, HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN 53, POSTMA 65, TILLANDER 78, COOK 80, WRIGHT 86, Emilios PAPATHANASIOU
(GRE) 92, Peer MOBERG
(NOR) 102; Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC
(AUS), already nominated as Australian team member for his third Olympic Games, finished the regatta in 12th place, behind Tapio NIRKKO
(FIN) and a place ahead of TRUJILLO.
SCOTT Wins Silver Cup
Two other battles were taking place today. In the Junior division, 20 year old Giles SCOTT
(GBR) has been leading the contest since the first day and had the Junior title well secured.
The fight was on for the second and third places not yet decided before the last race sailed today for the sailors ranked 11th and up. Piotr KULA
(POL) and Frederico MELO
(POR) conserved their earlier position to take silver and bronze.
(GBR) was disappointed and surprised after being disqualified on the start. "I started on the third row!".
This penalty cost him the bronze medal in the Junior Championship.
MELO's third place in the Juniors is overshadowed by missing out on Olympic selection by only 22 points. The sixth and final country place for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition was held yesterday by Ali Kemal FEKCI
, but coveted by the Ukraine and Portugalm, who were both tailing the Turk closely. However FEKCI managed to keep his direct opponents at bay qualifying his country and himself for the Olympic Games. Junior European champion in the Finn in 1993, FEKCI had stopped racing in the Finn in 1996 to try his luck in the Laser. "I was coaching the Chinese Laser team in Qingdao and realized that it could be my type of conditions. I asked my Federation and started again in the Finn two month ago."
First of the final six countries to qualify for the Olympic Games at this regatta is Italy with Giorgio POGGI
in 19th position. "I am very happy with my results. I had an intense training with Emilios, Pieter-Jan, and other good guys in Greece and I can see my progress. I now hope that my Federation will send me or one of us to the Olympics,"
2007 European Champion, Eduard SKORNYAKOV
of Russia took the second place in 25th position. Other countries to qualify are Cyprus, Austria, Germany and Turkey.
Results - click here
Finn Gold Cup - www.sailmelbourne.com.au/event/finngoldcup2008