After two races sailed in a moderate southerly, Zach Railey (USA) has taken the lead at the Finn Gold Cup in Vallensbaek, Denmark. The first race went to Giles Scott (GBR), leading from start to finish, while the second race in a stronger breeze was won by Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN) in the closing stages as the very tight leading group surfed to the finished line.
As usual both races started after one general recall under the black flag. Race three was sailed in a patchy 9-10 knots. Race winner Giles Scott (GBR) started near the committee boat and favoured the right hand side. He said, “Out of the start I tacked off and went right and took a small shift back into the middle and as I was coming across I tacked beneath the leading group and got across the right again. I then tacked on the layline and actually ended up overstanding the first mark when a big right hand shift came in.”
Behind him at the top mark were Michael Maier (CZE), Mark Andrews (GBR), Ed Wright (GBR), Deniss Karpak (EST) and winner of race one, Bryan Boyd (USA).
By the gate Wright had moved into second while Dan Slater (NZL) sailed a blistering leg to round third. Scott maintained his lead on the final downwind. He said, “From there it was pretty simple. I was going pretty fast down the run and covered the fleet up the second beat and I had a big enough lead to ease off towards the end.” He took the race win from Wright, Slater, Andrews and Karpak.
Race four got underway in a slightly increased wind of 12-14 knots after the course was changed to accommodate a significant change in the wind. Again the right side was favoured.
Race winner Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN) tells the story. “It was a tough race but finally we had some decent wind with no 50 degree shifts up the first beat. So far I have been on the wrong side of every big shift. I got a good start and played the right side and tried just to stay in the top ten coming round the first mark.”
Giorgio Poggi (ITA) led round the top mark ahead of Tapio Nirko (FIN), Rafael Trujillo (ESP), Florian Raudaschl (AUT) and Andrew Mills (GBR).
Høgh Christensen rounded in seventh. “Down the run I sailed a little straighter to the bottom mark and had some good pressure and led through the gate. I tried to stay in front up the beat and tacked for the windward mark ahead with a little group group got a 20 degree shift and just managed to pass me. I couldn't do anything about it but it was really close.”
Trujillo rounded the top mark in the lead with Zach Railey (USA), Slater, Nirkko, and Høgh Christensen right behind him.
Høgh Christensen continued, “I rounded in fifth and then tried to get in the grove again downwind and took the lead the final 100 metres to the finish.” He crossed the line surfing just seconds ahead of Ivan Kjlakovic Gaspic (CRO) who moved from about 12th to second on the final run, Tapio Nirkko (FIN), Trujillo and Slater.
The Dane said, “It was close racing for sure and finally all the top guys were up there and the leading group were all within 10 seconds at the finish. It was a real drag race and finally a proper Finn race. Everyone was fighting hard and laughing and having a good time fighting. It was perfect.”
The winner of race three had a different story. Scott said “I had a very bad start in the second race. I managed to get my tiller extension caught under the traveller on the start line. I was flapping around and in a right mess. I managed to dig myself out of that and went up the middle right, not as far right as the leaders did but I ended up 13th round the windward mark.
“In fact I was all over the place today. I was laying the final windward mark and a shift came through and I did a really bad tack and fouled the boat behind so ended up doing turns and lost more places. But it's only the second day.” He is lying second overall, while Slater had the best of the day to move up to third.
Yesterday's overnight leader Rafal Szukiel had problems. He said, “Most of the downwind was not good for me. I was not fast today. I lost a lot and just couldn't get going. But tomorrow is another day and another two races.”
Nirkko finally had a good race after a poor start to the series. He said, “I played the right corner on both beats. Downwind was free pumping which was really fun as you could really catch the waves. The last downwind was really exciting. Rafa lost his lead half way down the leg. He took an angle away from some of the others and they closed up, but the wind was very patchy, and it was really easy to lose the pressure. We finished really tight. One wave could make all the difference. And that's what made the sailing really fun.”
Høgh Christensen won the Finn Gold Cup in 2006 and is currently lying in 14th place after posting a 17th in Tuesday's morning race to add to his afternoon race win. This is his first regatta since finishing sixth at the Olympics last year and he has yet to decide if or when he will return to full time Finn sailing. “I like the boat, I like the class and made a lot of friends from all over the world. A lot of them have stopped as well so it won't be quite the same coming back. London 2012 is very attractive but this Gold Cup is, for the time being, my last Finn event. I actually had my very first regatta in Vallensbæk in Optis so some would say that I have come full circle. As of this Gold Cup I have ended my Olympic campaign but I have decided to have a look at it three months before the worlds in 2011 to consider a comeback.”
After four races the leader is the 2008 Olympic silver medallist Zach Railey (USA). Railey claimed two sixth places today to take an eight point lead at the top, though with the discard coming in after the next race, things could change considerable.
“Today I just tried to get up there and get a good position. It's been really shifty so far. But they're running really good races here given the conditions. When the wind changes they are shifting the marks and changing the line really well. I don't know why it was so shifty today. Yesterday it was off the land but today it was from the sea so should have been steadier and it was also pretty clear. We have seven more races to go and the regatta is not even half way over. You just have to keep your head out of the boat and make the best of what you get.”
Two more races are scheduled each day at 11.00 until Friday, with the medal race and the final race for the rest on Saturday.
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Top 10 after four races
1st 6 USA 4 Zach Railey 10.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 28.0 28.0
2nd 16 GBR 41 Giles Scott 6.0 16.0 1.0 13.0 36.0 36.0
3rd 13 NZL 1 Dan Slater 33.0 1.0 3.0 5.0 42.0 42.0
4th 33 CRO 25 Marin Misura 3.0 21.0 10.0 11.0 45.0 45.0
5th 12 NOR 1 Peer Moberg 2.0 13.0 15.0 22.0 52.0 52.0
6th 5 SWE 11 Daniel Birgmark 17.0 2.0 13.0 20.0 52.0 52.0
7th 3 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 31.0 3.0 21.0 2.0 57.0 57.0
8th 42 EST 2 Deniss Karpak 9.0 28.0 5.0 15.0 57.0 57.0
9th 18 GBR 634 Andrew Mills 7.0 5.0 32.0 16.0 60.0 60.0
10th 1 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 22.0 19.0 16.0 4.0 61.0 61.0