A dramatic fourth day at the U23 Finn World Championship in Aarhus, Denmark, has changed the landscape at the top of the leaderboard with just one day to sail. Defending champion Ondrej Teply (CZE) has now taken the lead for the first time, with Phillip Kasueske (GER) and Facundo Olezza (ARG) not far behind. Only three points separate the top three, with a break of 14 points to third, and just two races to sail.
There is always one day at any regatta that ultimately decides the final outcome. For the young Finn sailors in Aarhus that day was Friday. With nine great races already sailed, the two on Friday would change everyone’s fortunes.
The first attempt to race was abandoned as the bay of Aarhus was transformed into a mirror shortly after launching. The sailors were sent ashore again. When the fleet was sent back out an hour later, the wind conditions had improved, even though bad weather and bad fortune were on the way.
Max Kohlhoff (GER) had the best day by far on the water, but the worst day in the protest room. He came off the water having secured a 1, 2, but ended the day with two DSQs. He led the first race of the day all the way round, to narrowly beat Olezza and Teply. But a top mark incident with Olezza later cost him the win in the protest room, so the Argentinian took his second race win of the week.
In the second race he was one of 11 boats disqualified for missing out the spreader mark at the top of the second upwind. Most didn’t see it, some just followed the boats in front. First to spot the mistake was Hector Simpson (GBR) who sailed back to it and ended up taking the race win after crossing the line in 12th.
The race was dominated by the German sailors, with Kohlhoff again leading at the top mark. Kasueske took the lead right before the gate to lead round the rapidly one-sided course as the forecast bad weather finally made an appearance and the skies opened on the fleet. Only two sailors in the top ten overall managed to sail the correct course. There was a lot of head shaking and explanation from the coaches after the finish.
One of the casualties was the star sailor of Thursday Nenad Bugarin (CRO) who already had a UFD starting penalty and now sits in fourth place, 17 points off the lead.
Simpson explained the day. “After going out and coming in again, we eventually managed to get two good races, in 10-12 knots. The competition has been really tough this week. The top five sailors have been sailing really well and consistently, and then I have just been on the back of that.”
After today’s drama he is up to fifth overall, on equal points with sixth. Top five was his goal for the week. “It wasn’t looking too good coming into today. I was eighth overall with a sizable points gap. I’ve had a reasonable day today so managed to get some points back.”
With such a narrow points difference at the top, the 2016 Finn Silver Cup is going right down to the wire. Every sailor in the top 10 but Mikolaj Lahn (POL) has a letter score, so no one is going to be able to claim the title before the final race is done.
For the first time this week, the regatta is also behind schedule, so on Saturday, the final day of the championship, two races are scheduled, from the earlier time of 11.00
Results after 11 races:
1 CZE 5 Ondrej TEPLY 45
2 GER 259 Phillip KASÜSKE 47
3 ARG 48 Facundo OLEZZA 48
4 CRO 52 Nenad BUGARIN 62
5 GBR 96 Hector SIMPSON 83
6 RUS 6 Arkadiy KISTANOV 83
7 GER 25 Max KOHLHOFF 86
8 GBR 71 Henry WETHERELL 103
9 POL 16 Mikolaj LAHN 106
10 DEN 24 André HØJEN CHRISTIANSEN 107
– Robert Deaves