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16 September 2005, 11:13 am
AINSLIE Extends Lead After Good Day For The Brits
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Finn Gold Cup 2005
Moscow, Russia

The final race of the qualification series for the 2005 ISAF Grade W Finn Gold Cup was sailed this morning in Moscow, Russia. Andrew SIMPSON (GBR) and Ben AINSLIE (GBR) led the yellow fleet home with another Brit, Chris BRITTLE, winning the green fleet by nearly two minutes. For the final two days of the Championship the competitors will be split into gold and silver fleets with 49 Finns in each fleet lining up for the deciding races.
The wind was blowing most of the night. After two days of near nothing on Tuesday and Wednesday, it seemed a shame to waste all that wind. However the forecast for Friday morning at 1100 hours local time was twelve knots from the southwest, which was not the best direction but at least a good strength. When sailors awoke in the morning, for the first time this week, there was a healthy breeze across the lake.

The qualification series has been plagued by shifty winds that have tested the patience of even the most laid back sailor. Gus MILLER (USA) - currently languishing in 88th place - put it nicely, 'Uncle Wiggley had a great time with his stacks of red chips, large and small and green chips, large and small. The pressure would look good on one side while the angle would look good on the other with confusing little shifts up by the weather mark. On runs there would be random strong shafts what would pick up one small group and send them flying ahead through the fleet.'

While those at the top of the fleet had guaranteed a place in the gold fleet, and those at the bottom of the table had done their best to be in the silver fleet, the points in the middle were so close, that there were a great many battles of honour to be able to sail in the gold fleet on Saturday and Sunday. There was only 20 points separating 40th place and 60th place, so a good final result could make all the difference.

Yellow fleet got away second time with Wittze ZETZEMA (NED) leading followed by Tapio NIRRKO (FIN). SIMPSON took the lead on the second beat to lead to the finish. Overall leader AINSLIE recovered from a poor first beat to finish second, taking off places on each leg.

In the green fleet Kevin HALL (USA) had a good start to lead round the top mark from BRITTLE, having started at the committee boat. BRITTLE took the lead on the first run and extended his lead to win by two minutes. Johan TILLANDER (SWE) sailed a great race to come second with Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) keeping the pressure on AINSLIE at the top of the leaderboard by taking third.

This leaves AINSLIE leading the regatta on eight points followed by PAPATHANASIOU, five points back with Michal HRUBY (CZE), seventh this morning, in third, some 20 points behind. Between the top two, and then in the battle for third behind them it is all very tight going in the final two days, and with the erratic winds in Moscow, anything could happen. Many sailors results are just as erratic as the wind. Yesterday, class newcomer Peter-Jan POSTMA (NED) posted a 13, 33, 4 and lies seventh overall. Meanwhile Athens silver medallist Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) posted a 11, 1, 32! An eighth today for the Spaniard leaves him tenth overall.

Meanwhile in the junior fleet, Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) continues to lead after a scoring a fourth today to move up to eighth place overall, with second placed junior NIRRKO finishing third to sit in 24th place. Both are in the gold fleet going into the finals, so the title is still open for the taking.

Over the weekend AINSLIE will be racing for a place in the record books. Having already won this title for the past three years - equalling a record lasting for some 32 years - a fourth win will make him the most successful Finn sailor of all time.

Meanwhile, second placed PAPATHANASIOU is looking for his first Finn Gold Cup. So determined is he, that he is one of the very few sailors here - and the only one from western Europe - who brought their own boat to sail. He was European Champion in 2001, but the World title has continued to elude him, his best placed being 3rd in 2000, 2001 and in 2002.

The event is receiving a lot of media interest with both Russian TV crews following the regatta as well as international TV companies such as the BBC here for filming. Internet aficionados will also be interested to note that they can follow the gold fleet finals live online. Track and trace equipment is being places on the boats in the gold fleet which will be relayed live through the event website www.finngoldcup2005.ru. Check the forum section for details and the web address.

Top Ten After Six Races

Pos Nation Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Pts
1 GBR Ben AINSLIE 2 1 1 2 (10) 2 8
2 GRE Emilios PAPATHANASIOU 1 3 1 (8) 5 3 13
3 CZE Michal HRUBY 8 10 (17) 2 1 7 28
4 NZL Dan SLATER 10 1 2 7 (17) 10 30
5 CRO Marin MISURA 11 (18) 2 3 1 15 32
6 CAN Christopher COOK 3 (50) OCS 3 13 8 5 32
7 POL Waclav SZUKIEL (19) 8 7 4 2 14 35
8 CRO Ivan KLAKOVIC GASPIC 6 6 15 (18) 6 4 37
9 GBR Andrew SIMPSON 7 11 (12) 11 9 1 39
10 ESP Rafael TRUJILLO VILLAR 8 12 11 1 (32) 8 40
Robert Deaves (As Amended By ISAF). Image:© Event Media
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