Defending Finn world champion Giles Scott slips into the lead in Takapuna

Defending world champion Giles Scott (GBR) has taken the lead at the 2015 Finn Gold Cup after winning the only race sailed on the second day in Takapuna, New Zealand after light winds disrupted proceedings. Andrew Murdoch (NZL) drops one to second while Ed Wright (GBR) remains in third.

It was a mixed day with several weather changes during the day including some light rain, but the wind also remained light under both black clouds and blue skies. 

In his first Finn Gold Cup, André Hojen Christiansen (DEN) led round the top mark from the left, with Ioannis Mitakis (GRE), Alican Kaynar (TUR) and Philip Kasüske (GER) close behind. Mitakis took the lead on the first downwind to lead through the gate and extend up the second beat, rounding ahead of Kaynar and a fast approaching Scott.

As the wind got lighter on the final downwind, Scott closed up to the left of Mitakis and gained the inside overlap at the final gate to take the lead on the short leg to the finish to win the race. Mitakis crossed in second with Zsombor Berecz (HUN) passing Kaynar for third. The biggest gains went to Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) who had rounded the first top mark around 25th and gained on each leg to cross in fifth, just behind Deniss Karpak (EST).

The wind was never particularly strong, topping out at around 8-9 knots, but after the arrival of some dark clouds and rain towards the end of the race, the wind dropped out to 3-5 knots. After the finish the fleet waited afloat for conditions to improve enough to be able to start race 4, but an hour later the Race Committee sent the fleet ashore for the day.

Many battles are being fought out this week, not just for the World title but also for Olympic selection and for the four precious Olympic places.

Max Salminen (SWE) is battling with yesterday's race winner Björn Allanson (SWE) to be the Swedish rep in Rio. Salminen said, “We all want to aim for the best result possible and we try not think about it too much, just focus on the regatta and take it from there. We don't have a qualification that is based on maths so it's all about proving yourself as good as possible and you can't really do anything tactical.”

He finished 13th today, just one place behind Allansson, “It was a good day for me. In this big fleet and quite light wind it's all about trying to keep the speed and keep single digits. There were no major shifts anyway and after the race we had a big shift to the left and less wind so I think it was the right decision to call it off.”

“My hope for this regatta is doing a solid event and measuring my strength and my speed against all the others as this is the last Gold Cup I will do before the Olympics so I want to finish with a result I can be proud of.”

In contrast Postma has met national qualification but has not yet secured the Olympic place. After some poor results on the opening day, a fifth today has boosted his confidence. “Yesterday was very disappointing. I was really struggling with the strategy, normally I never struggle with that so we had to change a few things and today was better.”

On the day, “It was tricky racing with quite some current and you had to have a great start. That was the key. The pin end looked amazingly good so we started there well and tacked over. The whole fleet was downstairs and we crossed the fleet but it wasn't enough. There was too much current on the right side so we had to be early right, so at the top mark I think I was 25th. But from then on I caught up. On the first downwind I took 10 boats and the second downwind another 10, so it was a good race.”

After three races Scott has taken the lead. He said, “The forecast was pretty bad early on and they did a good job getting us out there on time and getting one race in before the rain killed what little breeze there was. So that was a good thing. And I managed to come away with a victory which put a good spin on it for myself, so I am happy with how today went.”

On taking the lead from Mitakis. “We were overlapped from about 40 boatlengths. I had been sailing reasonably well downwind. There was a bit of a left shift in the breeze and I managed to soak down in the breeze and he didn't early on and that brought me right up to him and from there I just protected the inside down to the gate, which worked well for me. The breeze was light and quite flicky with a long phase but generally there were little gains here and there to be had, which I managed to do quite well up the second beat which brought me to the front of that chasing pack.”

On his event strategy, “I think you have to take it race by race and every race so far has gone well and you can't complain sitting at the top of the leaderboard, but there's a long way to go.”

Both Australian Sailing crews had a tough day in the office with Australian Sailing Squad’s Oliver Tweddell dropping from tenth into 19th place overall after posting a 39th in 76-boat fleet. Team mate Jake Lilley (QLD) struggled as well, posting a 45th in today’s racing, which sees him in 38th overall after a total of three races. 

Three races are now scheduled for Thursday to try and catch up with the programme.

Results after three races

1 GBR 41 Giles Scott 9
2 NZL 16 Andrew Murdoch 25
3 GBR 11 Edward Wright 27
4 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 32
5 SLO 73 Vasilij Zbogar 32
6 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 36
7 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 36
8 USA 6 Caleb Paine 38
9 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 52
10 NZL 24 Josh Junior 52

Full results here.

– Robert Deaves

Jeanneau JY55
M.O.S.S Australia