Day five at the Finn Europeans had it all. Anticipation, excitement, disappointment and high drama. Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) takes the overall lead for the first time and goes into the final day with a ten point lead over his training partner Josh Junior (NZL). Milan Vujasinovic (CRO) is back up to third.
Though the forecast was for a weak wind again, most of the sailors expected a nice sea breeze to come in later in the day and after a brief postponement the fleet was sent out for two races in a 6-9 knot wind that provided tricky racing and lot of mixed fortunes.
Egor Terpigorev (RUS) showed up at the the front of the fleet for the first time, leading round the top mark in Race 5 from Ben Cornish (GBR) and Postma. Cornish had a narrow lead at the gate but Postma led at the end of the next upwind to set up an exciting final leg.
Cornish explained, “I got off the start quite well and got in phase with the shifts. Then the top five or six managed to break away from the fleet and we had some really close battles. It was just a case of getting it right on the last downwind. We managed to push out to the left and the wave direction was making it easy for me to gain. I felt as if I had control out there and the last reach to the finish was really exciting. As it happened PJ and I ended up neck and neck on the line and I just managed to get the last wave across the line.” Terpigorev sailed a great race to cross in third.
With the breeze still looking good, Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) led round the top in Race 6 from Postma and Ondrej Teply (CZE). The Greek sailor held the lead until the final downwind when with the leaders well split and the wind starting to turn patchy, it was anyone's race. Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) came in with the best pressure to slip round the final mark ahead of Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) and Mitakis. A sixth place for Postma was enough to retain the championship lead he had gained after the first race of the day.
Høgh-Christensen said, “The first race was super tricky. I had a bad start and the wind went left and I thought it was going to go right so I rounded in about 70 something and caught back up to 29th. The second race was much better for me. I had a good start and worked the left side of the course and came up to the first mark in fourth and I think I rounded the bottom in third. I was second at the top and ended up winning the race, so that was super.”
“They were really tricky conditions. I think there were two seas breezes fighting each other and it could go hard right or it could go left, so it was really hard to call which way it would go. I didn't get it right in the first but I did in the second.”
“The fleet here is very strong here are only a few guys missing, and people are fighting hard. It's a high scoring regatta but I'll keep on fighting.”
Cornish drops from third to fifth after a bad second race. “It was a day of two halves. To sum the week up in one word it's been difficult. The breeze has been far from simple. The gains have come in from the sides, so you really have to make sure you are 100 per cent aware of what is going to happen next. And I definitely wasn't aware in the last race, but you can't get it right all the time I guess.”
Of his expectations he said, “A top 10 would be a realistic finish for me. I finished just outside that in New Zealand at the Gold Cup and I was bit disappointed with that as I threw a bit away on the last day. I just want to put together a series that will leave me in touch with the front of the fleet.”
Also added to the mix today was the penultimate day of the US Olympic selection trials. Zach Railey (USA) and Caleb Paine (USA) were neck and neck and locked together all through Race 5, but after the discard came into effect, Paine had a ten points lead. Then in Race 6, Railey got the perfect start at the pin and looked to have the advantage.
However a poor second beat from him and a great one from Paine left them only a few boats apart at the final top mark. Then Railey got a yellow flag and on the last run they started jousting and it looked like something was going to happen. Railey then introduced a mark trap on Paine and prevented him from rounding letting about 50 boats sail past. By dragging Paine back through the fleet, Railey had forced them to both count their discards. This moved Railey back into a 10 point lead over Paine.
They ended up in the protest room so results are still provisional.
Overall leader Postma was happy to be in the lead but also mulling over the missed opportunities to be even further ahead. “It was super tricky, and very hard racing but it's going well. I am winning and my training partner Josh Junior is second, so I am very happy with that.”
On the final day he said, “In a 100 boat fleet you have a put in a good race again. You cannot play it safe. Of course I will keep an eye on which corner JJ [Junior] goes but there are other guys also in the hunt. I'll just try for a great start and play the beat and I'm looking forward to it.”
The championships will draw to close on Saturday with the final fleet race for everyone, with the warning signal time brought forward to 09.30 to make the best of the morning wind. When that has been sailed, the medal race for the top ten will be sailed as soon as possible.
– Robert Deaves