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23 January 2008, 10:51 am
SLATER Off To Flying Start At Finn Gold Cup
Dan SLATER at Sail Melbourne
Dan SLATER won the opening two races of the Finn Gold Cup

Finn Gold Cup 2008
Melbourne, Australia

The Finn Gold Cup got underway today with New Zealand's Dan SLATER winning the opening two races.
Eighty-three Finn sailors from 33 nations are competing in the Finn Gold Cup at the Black Rock Yacht Club in Melbourne, Australia, but on day one, it was all about Dan SLATER (NZL).

The New Zealander, ranked #4 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, won the day's two races after patiently tailing the race leader and delivering the final blow on the last downwind leg to the finish. The first race was sailed in moderate winds increasing from 7 to 10 knots. Light shifts made racing tricky and crowded mark rounding created enough turmoil to upset placings.

In the first race, Giorgio POGGI (ITA), who had finished 11th at the 2008 Sail Melbourne regatta last week, repeated his early form to lead the first race until the last downwind and crossed the line in third place. The Italian lost two places on the last run to SLATER and Haris PAPADOPOULOS (CYP). PAPADOPOULOS stepped into a Finn only six months ago, having his first race at the Olympic Test Event in China, last August. Since then, the ex-Laser sailor has intensively trained with Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) and other top sailors in Greece and made great progress. The regatta also started well for Indian Nitin MONGIA (IND) who finished in 13th position after sailing smartly in light and shifty conditions.

The second race started with freshening breeze from 11 to 15 knots. Free pumping provided fun downwind sailing and a slight advantage to the favourites, well trained for this sailing style.

Matthias BOHN (GER) took a great start at the committee boat and played the shift to round the top mark ahead of SLATER, Gaszton PAL (HUN) and Nik BURFOOT (NZL). BOHN covered his opponents all race, but hurt his elbow on the last downwind. It was enough distraction for SLATER to close the gap and take his second bullet in front of PAPATHANASIOU and Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED). BOHN crossed the line in ninth position.

It wasn't the conditions expected by the favourites. Some of them collected heavy scores that could jeopardize their overall standings if repeated. While Ben AINSLIE(GBR) caught up from average starts to fourth and 13th places, World Champion Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP) never recovered from bad starts scoring 58 points on his first day. "Just one of these bad days!" commented his coach on the shore.

Behind SLATER, PAPATHANASIOU lies in second place overall after a second and a sixth place finish, whilst Italy's POGGI, the surprise packet of the day, is third overall after 7,3 scores. Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN), the 2006 World Champion and world #1 skipper, is fourth, one point ahead of world #2 POSTMA. In the Junior division, Giles SCOTT (GBR), placed 11th overall is dominating his opponents by an impressive margin.

As well as the battle for the World Championship title, 14 nations in Melbourne are battling for the final six national qualificational places for the heavyweight dinghy event at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition. After the opening two races, sailors from Italy, Austria, Cyprus, Russia, Ukraine and Germany lead the way.

One race is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Results - click here
Finn Gold Cup -

Corinne McKenzie (As Amended By ISAF)
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