2009 Finn Gold Cup - Vallenbaek, Denmark
1 DEN 2 Jonas Høgh-Christensen 20 (35) 17 1 5 7 4 1 2 6 2 65
2 USA 4 Zach Railey 10 6 6 6 (29) 4 7 13 1 7 6 66
3 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (31) 3 21 2 6 13 3 3 12 4 10 77
4 GBR 41 Giles Scott 6 16 1 13 (20) 8 5 2 13 1 16 81
5 SWE 11 Daniel Birgmark 17 2 13 (20) 8 5 20 12 3 3 12 95
6 GBR 111 Edward Wright 46 4 2 9 18 6 1 4 (bfd) 2 8 100
7 NZL 1 Dan Slater (33) 1 3 5 3 20 12 14 15 8 mdnf 103
8 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 22 19 16 4 4 (31) 2 6 7 11 14 105
9 CRO 25 Marin Misura 3 (21) 10 11 21 1 6 10 10 16 18 106
10 GBR 634 Andrew Mills 7 5 (32) 16 2 16 13 16 22 10 4 111
11 GBR 88 Mark Andrews 16 (52) 4 8 13 21 8 31 8 12 4 125
12 NED 842 Pieter Jan Postma 13 (56) 27 14 39 9 9 9 4 9 1 134
13 NOR 1 Peer Moberg 2 13 15 22 22 17 17 (24) 14 5 9 136
14 FIN 218 Tapio Nirkko 12 34 (47) 3 9 18 19 21 5 14 2 137
15 CZE 1 Michael Maier 28 (47) 7 18 19 10 14 5 17 13 10 141
16 FRA 115 Thomas Le Breton 5 18 18 25 12 14 26 8 18 (27) 8 152
17 EST 2 Deniss Karpak 9 28 5 15 (dnf) 25 22 7 23 19 5 158
18 AUT 3 Florian Raudaschl 27 23 14 10 10 27 16 (30) 6 20 6 159
19 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert (57) 9 19 35 53 2 10 11 11 17 3 170
20 RUS 9 Eduard Skornyakov 32 8 35 17 1 29 15 (dsq) 19 15 14 185
21 ESP 7 Alejandro Muscat (37) 32 8 23 11 12 18 22 21 25 16 188
22 POL 7 Rafal Szukiel 4 7 25 33 15 30 29 15 16 21 (bfd) 195
23 ITA 117 Giorgio Poggi 19 26 28 7 14 15 (dsq) 34 28 22 12 205
24 SWE 6 Björn Allansson 29 42 (44) 19 28 3 21 27 24 18 15 226
25 POL 17 Piotr Kula 8 29 12 28 31 45 11 17 25 33 (bfd) 239
26 ITA 101 Riccardo Cordovani 24 22 9 31 17 26 38 44 33 (63) 23 267
27 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif (J) 26 10 23 41 (60) 11 39 41 39 43 19 292
28 CZE 52 Tomas Vika (J) 34 40 11 26 26 42 (50) 19 41 32 22 293
29 GRE 8 Alexandros Dragoutsis 41 (57) 22 48 24 36 37 23 26 28 17 302
30 NED 64 Wietze Zetzema 18 39 50 24 (51) 22 24 38 40 29 24 308
31 POR 5 Frederico Melo 56 (60) 29 37 36 23 23 50 20 26 11 311
32 CAN 1 John Romanko 38 (59) 30 34 27 41 30 28 32 34 28 322
33 NED 839 Timo Hagoort 30 12 37 21 30 47 41 52 (55) 40 20 330
34 USA 1140 Bryan Boyd 1 30 24 29 7 54 27 26 (dnf) 51 bfd 337
35 ITA 123 Filippo Baldassari (J) (65) 53 26 38 54 34 34 29 27 31 25 351
36 GBR 99 Henry Bagnall 53 43 (70) 39 32 46 35 25 44 23 21 361
37 RUS 707 Egor Larionov (J) 48 27 38 43 (74) 35 25 62 31 38 26 373
38 NED 787 Nanno Schuttrups 23 14 51 42 55 (bfd) 36 45 36 42 30 374
39 UKR 1 Oleksiy Borysov 66 (dnc) dnc dnc 16 19 43 20 9 24 7 380
40 DEN 9 Thomas Mørup-Petersen 54 25 42 46 (bfd) 40 31 42 43 48 37 408
41 NED 41 Karel van Hellemond 49 33 39 30 65 49 28 59 29 30 (bfd) 411
42 IND 11 Nachhatar Johal (64) 15 31 49 50 44 53 54 38 41 40 415
43 DEN 46 Kaspar Andresen 39 24 20 59 45 32 49 53 50 44 (bfd) 415
44 RUS 1 Alex Selivanov 15 11 45 62 23 (73) 55 39 69 68 33 420
45 USA 5 Andrew Casey 50 (67) 59 27 35 59 33 49 51 47 18 428
46 HUN 6 Gaszton Pal (85) 41 36 51 34 38 66 65 34 35 32 432
47 BRA 5 Henry Boening (82) 74 49 40 40 61 47 48 30 37 13 439
48 BUL 24 Mihail Kopanov (69) 46 41 54 33 51 52 37 45 52 38 449
49 CZE 3 Rudolf Lidarik 44 50 34 45 41 39 58 (60) 56 58 27 452
50 AUS 235 Timothy Castles (87) 58 63 32 76 33 54 18 35 56 29 454
51 HUN 8 Márton Beliczay 35 54 (74) 53 25 72 48 43 52 46 35 463
52 NED 844 Gert van der Heijden 45 37 (64) 57 44 52 59 51 42 49 31 467
53 CAN 7 Adam Nicholson 59 51 67 47 49 (68) 42 35 37 53 36 476
54 UKR 21 Anton Sadchykov (J) 40 44 (66) 58 61 66 44 33 57 39 39 481
55 EST 11 Lauri Väinsalu (J) 25 38 54 (dnf) 47 58 40 70 46 36 bfd 502
56 USA 619 Caleb Paine (J) 14 64 48 44 67 24 65 56 59 62 (bfd) 503
57 DEN 231 Kenneth Bøggild 76 20 40 70 48 55 62 47 47 50 (dnc) 515
58 GER 165 Dirk Meid 60 (73) 56 56 64 60 46 40 49 55 34 520
59 USA 9 Ian Cook (J) 52 49 55 50 43 28 60 58 (dnf) dnc 47 530
60 TUR 7 Akif Muslubas 11 55 33 52 73 37 56 63 67 (bfd) bfd 535
61 NED 45 Dennis de Ruiter 63 (71) 52 67 69 53 32 36 61 61 41 535
62 DEN 3 Jørgen Svendsen 47 69 43 61 46 (75) 68 55 62 60 43 554
63 USA 808 R. Phillip Ramming (86) 36 61 74 72 48 61 61 54 57 42 566
64 GER 203 Hartmut Duisberg 55 70 69 73 57 43 51 46 63 59 (bfd) 586
65 ITA 2 Marco Buglielli 67 31 (79) 63 71 74 63 66 58 54 44 591
66 NED 11 Henk de Jager 78 62 53 64 63 50 57 57 (dnf) dnf 45 617
67 HUN 128 Peter Haidekker 58 45 46 77 42 77 67 (dnc) 64 65 bfd 629
68 SUI 496 Thomas Gautschi 62 65 76 75 37 65 64 67 60 64 (bfd) 635
69 SWE 1 Olof Lundqvist 75 76 75 72 38 62 (dnf) 69 48 45 bfd 648
70 EST 7 Harles Liiv 73 48 (dnc) 36 68 dnc 45 32 dnc dnc dnc 654
71 SLO 5 Gasper Vincec 21 17 (dnf) 12 dnc dnc dnc dnc dnc dnc dnc 666
72 DEN 201 Nikolai Ratzlaff 79 66 (dnc) 76 79 57 72 68 65 66 46 674
73 CZE 11 Patrik Deutcher (J) 71 80 57 71 82 64 71 (dnf) 66 67 50 679
74 DEN 218 Jesper Petersen 70 79 68 69 59 67 (dnc) 71 53 69 bfd 693
75 GRE 71 Panagiotis Davourlis 36 68 65 65 81 70 69 64 (dnc) dnc dnc 694
76 ITA 38 Claudio Bosetti 42 78 62 66 52 71 (dnf) dnc dnc dnc dnc 723
77 GER 242 Peter Corbett 77 82 71 80 78 63 70 (dnc) 68 dnc 49 726
78 ITA 97 Carlo Recchi (J) 51 75 58 55 56 (dnc) dnc dnc dnc dnc dnc 735
79 HUN 728 Elemer Haidekker (J) 43 83 81 81 66 56 73 (dnc) dnf dnc bfd 747
80 GER 262 Uwe Barthel 72 72 73 79 62 81 (dnc) dnc dnc dnc 48 751
81 DEN 6 Lars Hall 61 63 72 60 58 (dnf) dnf dnc dnf dnc bfd 754
82 SWE 40 Sverker Härd 84 61 78 (dnc) 70 79 dnc dnc dnc dnc 51 775
83 USA 56 Charles Heimler 83 84 77 78 77 69 (dnc) dnc dnc dnc 52 784
84 GER 174 Matthias Bohn 74 (dnf) 60 68 dnc dnc dnc dnc dnc dnc dnc 818
85 DEN 258 Christian Qvist 81 77 80 82 75 76 (dnf) dnc dnf dnc dnc 823
86 GBR 631 Richard Hart 80 81 (dnf) dnc 80 78 dnc dnc dnc dnc dnc 847
87 HUN 212 Richard Hirschler (J) 68 (dnf) dnc dnc bfd 80 dnc dnc dnc dnc dnc 852
Finn Gold Cup 2009- Vallensbaek, Denmark
Friday 3 to Saturday 11 July
Event website: www.fgc-2009.com
Event blog: http://finnclass.blogspot.com *Event website: www.fgc-2009.com * Class website: www.finnclass.org
Web quality photos can also be obtained from: http://photos.fgc-2009.com
For high res photos please go to: http://pressphotos.fgc-2009.com
[Free use with credit]
All boats in all races can be tracked live thanks to TracTrac through www.fgc-2009.com
TV footage will be available each day of the championship on EBU (European Broadcasting Union). Low resolution footage for website will be available from Tuesday. Access codes upon request to:
Finn Gold Cup Preview
The form book is wide open going into next week's Finn Gold Cup at Vallensbæk, near Copenhagen in Denmark. With a different winner at each major European event so far this year, picking favourites is easy, but picking a winner would be a hard call.
So far there are 98 entries from 30 countries including just two former champions. Rafal Trujillo (ESP), winner in 2007 is back again along with 2006 Champion and local favourite Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN), who is sailing his first regatta since the Olympics last summer.
Post Olympic years are normally down in numbers, but this year’s Finn Gold Cup has, in real terms, attracted the largest post Olympic turnout for 24 years - apart from 2005 when 100 boats were supplied in Moscow.
Most have come expecting light winds, but so far that has been far from the case as the sailors make last minute preparations. One of the best performers so far this year, Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) said, “Up to now I thought this was a light wind place but today I got out of car and got blown by the wind. So this confirms that you can get any wind anywhere, and in this way I prepared myself for this.”
Hogh Christensen adds, “We can expect anything. Windy and shifty, light and shifty, a light onshore seabreeze or a strong. But both mean decent waves.”
Kljakovic Gaspic continues, “Lots of guys have been sailing all the year and they are sailing great, like Ed Wright, Giles Scott, Rafa Trujillo. And there are guys who were sailing some events and they are also peaking for the Gold Cup, like Marin Misura, Daniel Birgmark and Zach Railey. I think everybody will be a threat.”
The world number three ranked sailor said, “ I am really happy with the kit I am using this year. I have found one really good mast and the sails are old. This season I have been giving a lot of focus to the World Cup and on Gold Cup. Learn about sports betting sites. So far I am satisfied but I have one more goal to score.”
The events promises to be one of the most highly promoted dinghy events ever with extensive TV and internet coverage being planned. Jakob Nybroe from the organising committee explains.
“Getting TV coverage for a sailing event in Denmark has traditionally been very difficult. Though sailing is a very popular sport for a lot of Danes the national media have tented to prioritize more traditional "TV-sports", such as football, cycling, tennis, etc. This is also why we are very excited that through the "Inviting the World of Sport" programme we managed to secure enough funding for the production, and even more excited that DR (Danish Radio and Television) have agreed not only to provide us with airtime every evening on one of the most popular sport shows on Danish TV, but also to distribute the footage through the Eurovision network, Learn about slot machine, which basically means that every major TV station in Europe and throughout the world will have free access to footage from the Finn Gold Cup.”
He continued, “The TV coverage together with the live tracking of ALL participants for ALL races means that the FGC 2009 will be one of the best covered sailing events ever held in Denmark.”
The event will also be reported on in a number of ways:
- Live boat tracking through the official event website at www.fgc-2009.com
- Class blog and Twitter feed at http://finnclass.blogspot.com
- Multimedia coverage available through the event website
Former world champion and long time number one Finn sailor Jonas Høgh Christensen is sailing his first event since the Olympics.
He said, “This year I have probably had 6-10 days in the boat before the first race. I have gone sailing a couple of times with some of the boys who have been around for training leading up to the event. I am expecting to have a fun event. With almost no days in the boat I have lowered my expectations but I am sure once we get started I will want to win.”
On the competition, he said “Ed Wright looks strong, Rafa Trujillo is always in the game, so is PJ Postma and a couple of the experienced guys such as Zach Railey, Dan Slater, and Daniel Birgmark. But also young guns as Giles Scott and Dennis Karpak are on good form and for sure keen to win. It's always an open regatta in the Finn which makes it so much fun.”
“I am also quite sure that the hospitality will be great. The plans I saw were awesome, so if they manage that it will be fantastic.”
Rafael Trujillo (ESP) – World Ranking 1st
2004 Olympics silver medalist and 2007 World Champion. One of the most experienced sailors in the fleet now and is very likely to competing for medals come the end of the week. Traditionally very strong in a breeze, he lost a lot of weight for Qingdao and has struggled a bit since then, but is still winning races and should be a strong contender.
Pieter Jan Postma (NED) – World Ranking 2nd
After taking the silver medals at the 2007 Finn Gold Cup and the Pre-Olympics Postma has never quite reproduced that form. Very physical sailor who can perform very well in big winds and big waves, he has been a bit inconsistent of late, though quite capable to taking a medal next week. Best results this year was seventh at the Delta Lloyd Regatta.
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) – World Ranking 3rd
After his performances this year he is one of the top favourites for this event. Convincingly won Hyeres, second in Kiel and third at the Delta Lloyd. One of the lightest sailors in the fleet, he tends to prefer lighter conditions, but is gradually improving in the breeze so expect to see him near or at the front by the end of the week. Finish eighth in Qingdao.
Gasper Vincec (SLO) – World Ranking 4th
Produced some great results over the past couple of years but yet to take a major title. Third in Hyeres this year, his best result was third in the 2007 Finn Gold Cup and generally in the picture at most regattas. Expect to see Vincec in the top five or six going into the medal race.
Daniel Birgmark (SWE) – World Ranking 5th
Finished a frustrating fourth in Qingdao and his best result this year was sixth at the Delta Lloyd Regatta. Clever, thoughtful and experienced sailor who can never be written off, Birgmark has never really realised his potential in the Finn class and though has won many races hasn’t medalled at a championship yet.
Zach Railey (USA) - World Ranking 6th
Silver medalist in Qingdao after making rapid progress through the fleet in the last two years. Now regularly top ten in major events and this year was third at the Rolex Miami OCR and fifth at the Delta Lloyd. Sailing fast and clever, Railey is very fired up for this event and should be among the top few.
Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) – World Ranking 8th
Home town favourite who is ‘ending’ his 2008 Olympic campaign here. World champion in 2006, he says he is ‘here for fun’, but no doubt if thing go his way will be as competitive as ever. Was the number one ranked sailor in the world rankings from 2006 to 2008, but hasn’t sailed more than a few days since the Olympics, where he finished a disappointing sixth.
Ed Wright (GBR) – World Ranking 10th
His ranking position doesn’t reflect his performance this season with wins at the Rolex Miami OCR, and Delta Lloyd regattas, second in Palma and third in Hyeres. He is the current leader of the ISAF Sailing World Cup and has won that title before the final event in Weymouth. For many Wright will be the top favourite to take the title. Previously European Champion in 2006, his best Finn Gold Cup results was third in the same year.
Rafal Szukiel (POL) – World Ranking 11th
Surprise winner of last week’s Kiel Week, which will boost his confidence going into the Gold Cup. Has been there or thereabouts for many years and is an experienced seasoned campaigned who clearly has the ability to get to the front. Finished tenth in the 2008 Olympics but yet to medal and a major championship.
Giles Scott (GBR) – World Ranking 17th
One of the fastest rising stars of the fleet in his first year as a senior, Scott won the Junior worlds last year and trained extensively with Ben Ainslie before the 2008 Olympics. Has performed outstandingly well so far this year. He won Palma, was fourth in Hyeres and second in Holland, Scott has to be one of the favourites for a medal, if not the title if he can keep it going.
Other potential race winners could come from: Peer Moberg (NOR), bronze medalist in the 2007 Pre-Olympics and Laser bronze medalist from 1996; Eduard Skornyakov (RUS), 2007 European Champion who is starting to show some form; Tapio Nirkko (FIN), who can be blisteringly fast on his day; Bryan Boyd (USA), who has won races at several World Cup events this year; Marin Misura (CRO), who has won races at gold cup level and is always a tough competitor; Michael Maier (CZE), who has produced some great results so far this year and is sailing fast; and Deniss Karpak (EST), newcomer from the Laser who has already finished top ten in several events including a third in Kiel Week.
Measurement and registration starts on Friday 3rd July, with the opening ceremony on Saturday 4th, and the practice race the following day. Ten qualification races are scheduled between Monday and Friday with the medal race and the final race for the rest on Saturday 11th July.
Finn Gold Cup declared open
Sunday 5th July
On a boiling hot afternoon in Vallensbaek, the opening ceremony of the 2009 Finn Gold Cup was held alongside the beautiful Vallensbaek harbour together with free drinks and an impressive feast laid on by the Municipality of Vallensbaek.
So far 89 Finn sailors from 30 nations have completed registration and measurement to compete for the 2009 title and on Sunday afternoon the practice race took place in the waters off the harbour.
The closeness of the upcoming competition was perhaps only matched by the closeness in the main event tent at the opening ceremony. The weather over the past week has been almost tropical with blue skies and soaring temperatures, with just enough breeze for the sailors to do some last minute training. A change in the weather on Sunday has brought cloudy and humid conditions with light offwind winds. Rain is expected sooner or later.
After a few short speeches by Mr Steen Hillebrecht, Chairman of Vallensbaek Sailing Club, Mr Balazs Hajdu, President of the International Finn Association and Mr Kurt Hockerup, the Mayor of Vallensbaek a band carried on proceedings accompanied by the chatter and munching of the Finn sailors, their guests, event officials and club members.
Balazs Hajdu said, “ I am very proud that the Finn class chose Vallensbaek and Copenhagen in Denmark for the 2009 Finn Gold Cup because Denmark has been and still is a great supporter of Finn sailing.
“I am also happy and proud to see such a huge fleet in Denmark this year, especially in a post Olympic year. I wish all the best to our sailors, fair wind and may the best man win.”
Mr Hockerup said, “It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the biggest sailing event in Denmark this year. It is 50 years since the Finn Gold Cup was last held in Denmark, when the greatest sailor ever from Denmark, Paul Elvström, won.”
“Being one of the largest sailing clubs in Denmark, I know from personal experience that Vallensbaek YC is well qualified to host this event in the best possible way. Vallensbaek harbour will provide a great framework for the event. You will be given excellent conditions for some great racing.”
“I would like to thank everyone involved in contributing to make this event a success and wish you all a fair week with competitive racing. Good luck to you all.”
The practice race on Sunday was a quiet affair in a 4-7 knot offshore wind, that proved very tricky. By the final leg only seven boats remained in the race with Henry Bagnall (GBR) sailing well to take a very narrow victory from Uwe Barthel (GER).
At the class AGM on Saturday night the meeting discussed various issues. The major championship calendar to 2012 was completed with the 2012 Finn Gold Cup going to Falmouth, UK, the 2012 Europeans to Scarlino, Italy and the 2011 Finn Silver Cup (Junior Worlds) returning to Moscow Sailing School.
The 2008 Olympic silver medalist Zach Railey (USA), who is also the Vice President – Development, reported on the progress of a pilot programme to get junior sailors started in the USA, which has resulted in Caleb Paine attending regattas in Europe and this Finn Gold Cup. Railey said the goal was for the programme to be adopted by at least five more countries this year.
Railey also updated the meeting of progress with the 2010 FGC at St Francis YC in San Francisco, USA. The FGC will be preceded by the Silver Cup (Junior World Championship) where it is hoped 25 boats will be made available by the strong and growing US fleet for the Juniors.
It was noted that the class marketing strategy was working well with more than 20,000 hits on the Finn Channel, the Finn classes YouTube site that was launched last November, as well as through the Finn Focus reports from each day of the World Cup regattas since Palma.
With no rule changes on the table this year, discussion turned to ways to encourage more juniors into the class (this year's Silver Cup in August has already attracted 45 young sailors), ways to prevent unrestricted gear development and its related high costs, as well as plans to organise transport of boats in containers or curtain-siders between major regattas so sailors spend less time on the road.
Time to go sailing
An event the size and complexity of a world championship takes a lot of work to get everything right and running smoothly and the organisers here have seemingly though of everything.
Jakob Nybroe from the organising committee said, “Hosting a Finn Gold Cup is no small task - the class carries a great deal of prestige, and therefore also a lot of attention from our national authorities, the sailing federation, ministry of culture etc. Michael Bernfeld and I have been the primary drivers, and we've basically been at it since we got the event awarded nearly two years ago.”
“Vallensbaek Sailing Club is 100% based on the efforts and time spent by volunteers - that goes for the organising committee as well as for the close to 50 people who will spend parts of their vacation making the event a great experience for all participants.”
“For this regatta we have gone to great lengths in making the event itself as convenient as possible for the participants - that means that all social events and official functions will take place at the venue itself, and it also means that the participants don't have to worry about paying for food and drinks during the 'after sail/wet bar'. The same applies to the opening reception, the prize giving, and the food for the mid-week party.”
Nybroe concluded “We are really looking forward to starting the event – there has been enough planning and organising - now it's time to go racing and have fun!”
The first two races of the championship are scheduled for Monday morning at 11:00.
Day 1 - Tricky conditions produce mixed bag on day one at Finn Gold Cup
Two testing raced sailed off Vallensbaek Harbour near Copenhagen in Denmark were completed Monday with virtually all the favourites picking up a discard. Race wins went to Bryan Boyd (USA) and Dan Slater (NZL), though Rafal Szukiel (POL) was the most consistent and leads overnight.
Starting on time at 11.00, the first race had one general recall before getting away under black flag. The 6-8 knots wind was patchy at best and those who favoured the right side – near the land- generally came out best.
Race winner Bryan Boyd (USA) said, “We could see there was a bit more pressure and a puff coming in from the right. It was super crowded at the committee boat but I knew I was just going to have to throw it in there and actually I didn't get a very good start but I managed to bail out quite quickly and just lived off of Giles' [Scott (GBR)] hip for long enough to get into the pressure. From there it was just two or three shifts and every time the pressure moved in it was just a bit more to the right so I could use it to take me back across the group.”
Boyd had a narrow lead round the top mark from Thomas Le Breton (FRA), Caleb Paine (USA), Andrew Mills (GBR), Marin Misura (CRO) and Peer Moberg (NOR).
Boyd continued, “The first downwind was nice for me. It's great when you get a little bit of breeze just in front of the group. The sea was not very chopped up and I had room to do my own thing.”
In fact the American sailed well clear of the fleet to win by over a minute. Moberg moved up to second place upwind and maintained that on the final downwind to the finish. Misura and Rafal Szukiel (POL) went further to the right on the downwind and picked up some places to finish third and fourth.
Boyd summed up his race win, “I've sailed a few of these and believe me it's good to take one down, especially the first race of the Gold Cup. It really sets the tone for the week so I'm psyched up and it's certainly going to be a great memory to take home.”
After another general recall, race two also got away under a black flag. With more cloud cover and some dark clouds coming down the race track, this race was to proven even trickier. At times the wind reached 10 knots, but was still very patchy.
Dan Slater explains, “I got a pretty good start near the committee boat end and managed to tack clear and basically the whole fleet then went right. We were looking good when we first tacked and then it went left and we were looking pretty sick until it started to head a bit, so I decided it was time to put the money in the bank and get across. Some of the other guys kept going and fell out of the breeze and paid for it. In the first race it paid big dividends to go further right, so maybe it was a bit risky tacking but it panned out for me OK. ”
Daniel Birgmark (SWE) led round the first mark followed by Christian Qvist (DEN), Slater, Timo Hagoort (NED), Alex Selivanov (RUS), Ed Wright (GBR) and Johal Nachhatar (IND). By the gate Birgmark was still leading, though Slater split tacks for a while.
“I passed Daniel on the second beat and then he passed me again and then just before the top mark I passed him again. We were just a few boat lengths apart. And again on the run he passed me and then I passed him.”
Several sailors got caught out because the wind at the top mark wasn't enough to raise the 'O' flag for free pumping, even though by the middle of the leg it had increased to 15 knots. “The middle part of the run was hard to limit pumping but towards the end it wasn't a problem as we were just hanging on by then!
Slater took the race win with Birgmark close behind. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) recovered well to place third while Wright moved up to fourth on the final leg.
Birgmark, who has taken a break since the Olympics said, “I have had a pretty long break from sailing after the Olympics so now I'm just focusing in getting back to the same level as last year. I am doing another campaign, but I will try to do broaden my sailing knowledge by doing more keelboat sailing and match racing. I think that will help me to develop the Finn skills as well.”
On this regatta he said, “It's good to see that there are so many Finn sailors challenging for the podium places this year. It will be an interesting Gold Cup. It's an open bay and I think we will have great sailing conditions. I'm also glad that there are many new younger sailors who begin to sail the Finn. It proves the Class is strong and competitive.”
Two of those new sailors had a good day today. In his first Gold Cup race, Caleb Paine (USA) placed 14th and sits in 39th overall, while 16 year old Jorge Zarif (BRA), placed 26th and 10th to sit in 13th overall.
Slater concluded, “'The conditions weren't great today, but the race committee did a great job. It was very shifty but there's nothing they can do about that. However the length of the races were perfect and it was well run. I can't complain about the hospitality either. It's pretty good to come in and get a free sandwich and a beer straight away.”
ISAF President Göran Petterson was also at the Finn Gold Cup today and presented the day's prizes to Bryan Boyd and Dan Slater.
Two more races are scheduled for Tuesday at 11.00
Day 2 - Steadier breeze brings favourites to front at Finn Gold Cup in Denmark
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.
Day 3 - Dan Slater takes lead at the Finn Gold Cup
After day three in Vallensbaek there is a new leader at the Finn Gold Cup. Dan Slater (NZL) heads the leader board but on the same points as Zach Railey (USA). Ed Wright (GBR) moves up to third. Race wins on Wednesday went to Eduard Skornyakov (RUS) and Marin Misura (CRO).
Wednesday dawned as most days this week with blue skies and a light wind in place. By the time race five started it was a patchy 8-9 knots. For the first time in the series, the left side paid with a large shift under the clouds.
Bryan Boyd (USA) led from the left to lead round the top mark for the second time this week. He was followed by Eduard Skornyakov (RUS), Andrew Mills (GBR), Alejandro Muscat (ESP), Florian Raudaschl (AUT) and Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN). Those on the right didn't look so good.
Boyd was unable to hold on to the lead. with Skornyakov taking over on the first run, which he held to the finish.
Mills sailed a great race into second. He said, “I didn't get a great start but played the shifts up the left hand side and actually rounded in third and managed to hang onto third at the bottom. The next beat it paid to go right, but perhaps not as much as people thought it would. I rounded second and kept there down the run to the finish.”
On the racing so far Mills said, “The right is paying mostly but a lot of people are thinking it is paying more than it actually is. If you can get the right shift towards the clouds then you're off. But there's been a few people sailing on headers trying to get to them. So far it's going all right for me and I've managed to be fairly consistent. The key will be to try and keep out of the big points for as long as possible. But there's a bit more wind forecast for tomorrow so hopefully it will settle things down a bit.”
Just a few boat lengths behind Mills, Slater had recovered to third in the race to take the overall lead of the regatta from Zach Railey (USA) who had finished 29th.
As the race finished the wind all but disappeared for an hour while the fleet waiting in the hot sunshine and blue skies, though a number of rain clouds could be seen tacking down the coast inland. When these passed by the wind filled in again and race six got underway in 10-12 knots, again with a practice start so the PRO could raise the black flag.
The first upwind was defined by a large shift half way up to the right and an increase in wind to 14-15 knots. Michael Maier (CZE) was furthest to the right and easily rounded the mark in the lead.
He said, “It was really busy by the committee boat so I started about 30 metres down from the boat. I tacked onto port, sailed about 200 metres and tacked, then did a long starboard and back again and tacked for the mark and rounded first. It was easy!”
Behind him were Marin Misura (CRO), Bjorn Allansson (SWE), Giorgio Poggi (ITA), Pieter Jan Postma (NED) and Wietze Zetzema (NED). Misura took the lead on the first downwind and held to the finish in the increasing wind, with the final run almost a reach in the changing conditions.
Second placed Jonathan Lobert (FRA) scored his best ever Gold Cup in race six. “On the first beat I stayed in the middle after starting at the committee boat then I lost a lot of guys after letting them go further to the right and rounded tenth, but then I touched it and had do do a turn. Then I got lucky on the second beat and caught a lot of boats by going right and getting a big shift. I was very quick downwind and gained a lot of distance but only two boats, so I am happy to finish second. It was great fun. Nice waves and good wind.”
Lobert, who has been sailing the Finn for three years, said “I like the class very much. There are two of us French guys training together for Weymouth, myself and Thomas [Le Breton] and we'll see who is best. We work as a team rather than being competitive, helping each other to try and be the best. This makes for a good atmosphere in the team.”
Third placed Allansson said, “I had a pretty good start by the committee boat and rounded the top mark in fourth. I gained two places on the first downwind. It was free pumping so it was pretty brutal. On he second beat I was leading for a while, but the group split into two, so I played the middle and rounded the mark second. The wind changed a bit more on the final downwind and I finished third which is a great result for me.
“I am really pleased with the second race today, but not that happy with my other results so far, but we still only half way through so it could still turn out OK.”
At 45, Maier is putting some of his experience back into the class coaching some Czech juniors. “We started last year with a little bit and continued this year in Palma because it is too cold to sail at home and we'll see how they get on at the World Juniors on Balaton next month. For me it's easy to be coaching them and sailing at the same time. I'm not really one for sitting in a motor boat. I think this will continue for the future and if I am still in one piece I will carry on sailing.”
One of these new sailors is Tomas Vika (CZE) who is currently sitting in 30th place, just four places behind the leading junior this week so far, Jorge Zarif (BRA) in 26th place.
The points at the top are close. Both Slater and Railey sit on 32 points with Wright on 39. All have posted at least one high score already, so any more could cost them dearly.
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.
Day 4 - Ed Wright overcomes testing conditions to take lead at Finn Gold Cup
Sailors and equipment underwent a thorough testing on day four of the Finn Gold Cup in Vallensbaek, Denmark with strong winds introducing a new element to the championship. It was also all change at the top after race wins for Ed Wright (GBR) and Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN). Wright climbs to the top, with Giles Scott (GBR) in second and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) moving up to third.
The wind shifting further into the north and coming off the shore produced a selection of intriguing right hand and left hand shifts for the sailors to choose from. The Oscar flag for free pumping remained up through both races with wind speeds averaging 15 knots and gusting to 25 at times, with the windward loop/triangle course set.
For the first time this week, race seven got underway first time. Winner Ed Wright said, “I came off the line well and then tacked to the right. I had really good boatspeed and just pulled away to round the top mark in the lead.”
He was followed by Piotr Kula (POL), Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO), Marin Misura (CRO), Rafael Trujillo (ESP and Mark Andrews (GBR). Wright gained some distance on the first downwind. “On the second beat I just loosely covered Rafa and the rest of the fleet and then sailed away from them again on the last reaches.”
Kljakovic-Gaspic finished third, “It was a tough day for me but came good at the end. In the first race I had a bad start and I ended up on the left. I was sure it was going to be shifty conditions and I was sailing on a starboard lift getting going quite a long way to the left. Then a new wind came in and I got a big advantage from that to go back over to the right and rounded in the top ten. The rest of the race was quite easy for me as I was fast on the downwind. On the second upwind before the top I was on the left and the rest of the fleet were on the right and in the last 200 metres I got a nice shift from the left and gained 50 metres on the group.”
Meanwhile Trujillo climbed to second with Høgh Christensen finishing fourth just ahead of Giles Scott (GBR).
Race two started after a brief intermission to allow a rain storm to pass over. The clouds brought 30 knots winds and cold rain but it soon passed and the wind dropped to 12-14 knots for the start of race eight, which also got away first time.
Wright said, “The second race was really difficult. Out of the start the guys on top of me weren't tacking. The rest of the fleet at the port end had tacked and were starting to cross us. They were taking all the lanes or I would have gone earlier, but I had good numbers so I was happy to keep going. But I was lucky that the right ran out of pressure. I rounded about 20th but then had a good downwind so that pulled me up to seventh and then on the last reach I was working really hard and finished fourth.”
Kljakovic-Gaspic had a much tougher time. “I think on the top mark I was 35th and I knew I had just one downwind and it was really important to surf as much as possible and to make up a lot of ground. So after the top mark I gave it 100 per cent and I gained lots and got in the middle of the top 15 and rounded close to the front pack. On the second upwind I sailed really smart and had some good moments to round the top mark in fourth with a couple of boats around me and I was really fast on the reaches and finished third.”.
“It was a great day. The wind was was good, but still very shifty. You just have to get used to these conditions and use them the best you can. In the first two days I was expecting them to cancel the race, but that didn't happen so you just have to keep going and make the best of what you have. Today was really exhausting for me, especially the second race.”
Race winner, Høgh Christensen tells the story of race eight. “The second race was very tricky. Before the start I thought I saw something coming out of the left and I was a little afraid because the right has been quite good so far and I decided to start at the pin and got a half decent start there. I was lying next to Bryan Boyd and shouted at him to drop his traveller because he was pinching and we just needed to just get across the fleet. We did and then rounded the first mark first and second.”
Behind them were Zach Railey (USA), Daniel Birgmark (SWE 11), Rafael Truijillo (ESP) and Michael Maier (CZE).
“The wind came in from behind on the run and a lot of people moved up and Giles came past and led at the bottom. The next beat was really shifty and I managed to play the shifts a bit better than Giles and pulled out a little bit. The left side came in quite well but I kept playing the middle and tried to stay safe and minimise the risk, and take a little out of Giles every time I had the chance.”
The Dane rounded the top mark clear ahead of Scott, Misura, Kljakovic-Gaspic and Wright and extended his lead down the spray filled reaches to record his second race win of the series.
By the finish, Wright had moved up to fourth behind Høgh Christensen, Scott and Kljakovic-Gaspic with Maier in fifth.
Høgh Christensen continued, “I would be happy with a top ten here but also when it's on, I'll do anything to win and today I gave myself that opportunity. There's still a good way to go and Ed has a good lead. If the forecast is right we are going to have a lot of breeze tomorrow and Ed usually doesn't make mistakes in that so he's going to be a hard guy to beat, it's going to be tight and a lot of good guys are in a good position.”
“For me, today couldn't be much better and I very much more relaxed than last year. I could see myself coming back to the class but right now there's no money to do that. That's my main problem right now. Sport in general in Denmark is getting a 20 per cent cut in funding, while everyone else is increasing by 20 per cent. I am all out of finance and I can't put myself in that sort of debt every year. So we'll see.”
The previous regatta leader Dan Slater (NZL) ended the day in 6th after a 12th and 14th. He said, “ It was one of those days. I wasn't that quick and it was pretty hard to play the game. The lack of sailing since the Games probably got found out a bit today to be honest. I'm also using equipment I've never really used before, especially in a breeze. I'm using a UK North for the first time in three years.”
“I kept being forced to tack off because I couldn't hold a lane so it's not just about missing shifts. But every time I was forced out of my lane it was another few boatlengths lost. It's one of those things. But we will have all closed up quite a lot today and there is still plenty to play for.”
One sailor who had a better day, Thursday was Pieter-Jan Postma (NED). With two ninth places he has moved up to 18th. Postma has been struggling with his form and not found the speed that led him to silver medal at the 2007 worlds and pre-olympics but is optimistic about the future. “I am getting good starts. Off the line I am looking good. By my strategy and boatspeed are not 100 per cent and that creates some doubts and that's not good. It's tough, and the level is high, but I have faith and patience and I'll get there. So no worries. I'm not actually sure what the problem but sometimes it's good to analyse and put some distance on it to pin point the issues. The winter was a little bit messy and I think if you have a steady winter you have a better season.”
“But today was nice. Perfect conditions. It's also a perfect atmosphere here. They have arranged everything here really well. I think it is one of the best, if not the best regattas I have been to. When you come ashore you get a bit of music, some beer and a sandwich. On the water there are perfect races. I am really enjoying it.”
The two final qualification races are scheduled at 11.00 on Friday, with the medal race and the final race for the rest on Saturday.
Day 5 - Drama at Finn Gold up as Zach Railey leads fleet into medal race
Zach Railey returned to the top of the leaderboard after a tough day at the Finn Gold Cup in Vallensbaek, Denmark. After leading the first race on Friday from start to finish he placed seventh in race 10 to go in into Saturday's medal race with a narrow three point lead over Jonas Høgh Christensen. Race ten was won by Giles Scott, who completes the top three places, a further two points back.
Fourth placed Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) is just two points further back and all four sailors have a realistic chance of taking one of dinghy sailing toughest titles in the double points medal race to be sailed just outside the marina at 11.00 Saturday.
Friday's racing was the toughest yet, with a cold south-westerly in place, raining most of the day with winds up to 25 knots and high seas.
Race nine winner Zach Railey (USA) takes up the story “I started down at the pin end and a left shift came in with about a minute to go and it took maybe 35 or 40 seconds before everyone tacked over to port before I could get over. But once I tacked it looked pretty good and I crossed all the way across the race course. I took one tack on starboard and got to the port layline and took one more shift and then myself and Bryan Boyd [USA] were 1, 2 round the top mark, so that was pretty cool.”
The Americans were followed round by Daniel Birgmark (SWE), Mark Andrews (GBR), Tapio Nirkko (FIN), Oleksiy Borysov (UKR) and Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN). Regatta leader Ed Wright (GBR) picked up a black flag, removing any chance of the world title for him, as he now has to carry a 46th from the first race.
Railey continued, “Daniel Birgmark and I had a really good fight on the first downwind leg and then on the second upwind, the left came in again and I was just a little to the left of Daniel and Jonas.” Railey led down the reaches to the finish, though Høgh Christensen closed the gap to finish second ahead of Birgmark, Pieter Jan Postma (NED) and Nirkko.
Though the wind and waves made for great, if tough sailing, the cold rain made for a dismal wait between races. After several false starts, it finally got away in a slightly reduced breeze. The pin end was favoured again and very crowded with a number of boats, including Railey and Høgh Christensen bailing out and restarting.
Giles Scott (GBR) won his second race of the series. He said, “In the second race I nailed the pin end tacked after about a minute or two and just cleared the fleet. Then I caught a big lift on starboard and went over the fleet again and had quite a lengthy lead round the first mark. It went right half way up and I was about the only boat to get into it.”
Railey added, “The pin end was really favoured and I didn't want to risk being OCS which would have blown the regatta for me so I held back from the line. We had to bail out and I found a lane to get out to the left side and worked my way through the fleet.” Høgh Christensen was thinking alike, “I could have pushed it harder and maybe gotten in there but I didn't want to take the risk and get an OCS on the board. I just wanted to stay clear of any trouble and decided to play it little safer today.”
Scott was followed round the top mark by Railey, Rafael Trujillo (ESP), Birgmark, Wright and Høgh Christensen. Scott continued, “I was pretty annoyed to see them [Railey and Høgh Christensen] there. I saw Zach had bit of difficultly at the start but he caught up nicely.”
Railey said, “We had a really good fight on the downwind but it got a little shiftier and lighter on the second upwind and I didn't want to take too many chances going to one side or the other and finished seventh so now have a good position going into the medal race.”
Scott extended on the downwind and went on to take the race win, while Wright caught up to second. Birgmark finished a steady day with another third place.
Scott said, “It's nice to have the fleet racing over. It's been quite a stressful week with the breeze being up and down. Today was better actually but there was till boats coming in from both corners, but it was just normally racing today. But it was so cold between races.”
Railey said, “The points are really close for tomorrow. It's all up for grabs and will be very tough. The medal race is supposed to be very exciting and I think we will have an exciting one tomorrow. There are four guys who can win and it will be interesting to see what happens. All you can really ask for is to be in a position to finish on the podium at the end of the day.”
Høgh Christensen agreed, “It's going to be be a fantastically tight race. All four of us are within a few points and anyone can take it, so I'm expecting a really tight and a good fun race.”
Scott was more bullish, “It's going to be tight tomorrow, but bring it on!”
So the medal race line up looks like this:
Zach Railey _USA
2008 Olympic silver medalist but yet to medal at a major championship. But sailing cooler and cleverer than ever, so this could be his year.
Jonas Høgh-Christensen - DEN
World Champion in 2006 and placed sixth at last year's Olympics. Hasn't raced since then and is here 'for fun', but his relaxed attitude is showing with the best scoreline of any sailor in the second half of the regatta,
Giles Scott - GBR
Fast improving young pretender who won last year's Junior Worlds in Melbourne. Won race three and ten here and has put together an impressive series. Placed second at the Delta Lloyd after leading all week and losing on the medal race to Wright.
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic – CRO
Had an impressive series this year and been consistent this week, but hasn't won a race yet. Won Hyeres this year, and twice been runner up at the Europeans in 2007 and 2008.
Dan Slater – NZL
Only really just returned since taking a beak after the Olympics and has a few rusty areas, but a great competitor. Can take silver if things go his way.
Daniel Birgmark – SWE
A typical performance from Birgmark this week. Very steady. Could just take the bronze, but it's a long shot.
Marin Misura – CRO
Won a race this week, but too far adrift to take a medal. Made the top ten at the 2007 Gold Cup, but lost out on Olympic selection to Kljakovic Gaspic.
Rafael Trujillo – ESP
2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2007 World Champion. Made life hard for himself this week with too many high scores and no possibility of a medal.
Edward Wright - GBR
European Champion in 2006, and third in the Finn Gold Cup that year. So far this year he has won two ISAF Sailing World Cup events, won three of the medal races and has taken an unassailable lead in that series to take the title before the final event in Weymouth. But Friday's black flag has cost him dearly.
Andrew Mills - GBR
Sailed a great series here for his best ever Gold Cup result. A lot of work to do to move up from 10th, at 15 points adrift of Wright, but could easily be up the front.
The medal race is scheduled for 11.00 on Saturday, with the 11th race for the rest to follow immediately afterwards.
Day 6 - Fairy tale ending as Jonas Høgh Christensen wins Finn Gold Cup
Sailors competing at the Finn Gold Cup in Vallensbaek, Denmark knew he would be dangerous, but not even Jonas Høgh Christensen really thought he would win the world title in his home waters after taking nine months off since the Games last year. But win it he did, saying “It's amazing, absolutely amazing. I am lost for words.” Zach Railey placed third to take the silver medal while Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic took the bronze.
The medal race was sailed in near perfect conditions. The Oscar flag was raised at the start for free pumping downwind in the 12-14 knots wind and to make things complete the sun was out again.
From the start, the fleet split into two groups with Zach Railey (USA), Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN), Ed Wright (GBR) and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) tacking straight away to the right. A few well timed tacks brought Railey to the front on a big left hander about half way up the leg.
At the first mark it was Railey, Høgh Christensen, Andrew Mills (GBR), Rafael Trujillo (ESP), Wright, Giles Scott (GBR), Daniel Birgmark (SWE), Dan Slater (NZL), Marin Misura (CRO) and Kljakovic Gaspic.
Høgh Christensen said, “Zach had tacked off to the right out of the start and I wanted to follow him and we seemed quite lifted on port tack and it looked good. Then Zach went back and I went further out right. I let him go out to the left and it seemed OK as I was controlling the fleet on the right and then Zach got a big shift on the left and passed everyone and got back into the race and suddenly was leading. It was pretty tight at the top mark.”
Railey takes up the story, “When we went around the top mark the first five or six boats were really close and I knew it was going to come down to that first downwind. Unfortunately for me Jonas was able to get around the leeward mark just before me and then he stayed on top of me from there which was exactly what you are supposed to do. By the time we got to the second windward mark I had to start worrying about protecting second place. Jonas was pretty far in front and he had put two boats in between us on the second beat, which had given me some bad air, which is again exactly what he should have done. Fortunately I was able to have a really good last downwind to finish third, but there was still one boat in between us so he wins by a single point.”
Høgh Christensen said, “Zach was leading and then he lost a lot on the run and I passed him and a lot of other guys passed him and that really made my race. I just wanted to get in front of him so I could tack on him on the second beat to try and put a boat between us, but he fell into a hole or something and dropped back a bit and my race was pretty much made then. That made it easy. I had a good first run, I used all the energy I had to try and pull out and that succeeded.”
At the downwind gate Høgh Christensen led from Mills, Wright, Kljakovic Gaspic, Railey, Trujillo, Birgmark, Scott and Misura. Slater had capsized near the top of the downwind and had broken his mast.
The first downwind was also crucial to Kljakovic Gaspic. He said, “At the start of the first beat I messed up a couple of shifts and was at the back at the top mark. I passed lots of boat on the first downwind and then at the final mark I was fifth or sixth. I went a little bit to the left hand side of the course with good pressure and managed to pass all the fleet from the right, really sailing fast and pushing myself to the max. Then round the second top mark I was about fourth.”
At the second windward mark, Høgh Christensen had built a nice lead, having covered Railey up the beat and put four boats between them. The Dane led from Mills, Birgmark, Kljakovic Gaspic, Wright, Railey, Trujillo, Scott and Misura.
The Croatian continued, “On the downwind Zach was close to me and I needed to three boats between us which would have been difficult so I concentrated on keeping Giles behind me so I could at least get the bronze. In the middle of the last downwind it felt really good for me. I was in a good position in third in the middle, 60 metres ahead of the pack behind, but then ran out of pressure and was waiting 2-3 minutes to get a gust. Meanwhile the guys from the left, Zach and Ed, got good pressure and got in front of me. Anyway I was really happy to finish in front of Giles and win the bronze.”
Second in the race was Andrew Mills, “It wasn't too shifty today. There were some left handers coming in a bit as we went up the course. But the downwind legs were just my conditions really. I had a little practice beforehand and I thought the waves were nicer on the left downwind. I am really pleased with second and thought I had a chance of getting Jonas on the first run but he did it very nicely and was off.”
Afterwards, Railey said, “I am a little disappointing not to win but I can hold my head high with a podium finish at the world championship. This is the first worlds I have actually finished in the top 28. I haven't had very good luck at the Gold Cups before, so my strategy was to come here and try to finish consistently in the races and give myself the best shot at the medal race, which is what I did. I can't complain about second pace at the world championship for sure. It definitely hurts a bit not being on top of the podium but we'll have fun tonight and move on.”
On wining his second Finn Gold Cup in his own country, Høgh Christensen said, “It's amazing, it's an absolutely amazing feeling. I'm lost for words. To be honest I didn't think it could happen. I wanted to compete here because it was in my home country, but I hadn't really trained for it at all. I have been on the water about six times since the Games. Of course I have trained 250-300 days a years for the last eight years so I've done a lot of hours. I've done my time. It wasn't hard getting back in the boat. The physical issue was the biggest problem but I think the will to do it played a big part as well as trying to be a bit smarter than everyone else.”
“And then I started out badly and thought I had lost it. Then the weather started acting a little bit easier and suddenly the results started coming in. I still felt I was out of it but I just moved up and up and by today I was suddenly in second. Today was just a case of go out and fight for it.”
And the future “That's a good question. I don't know. I'll be sailing a little but what I will be sailing I don't know. I enjoy the Finn a lot. I think it is a great boat and a great class with lots of fun. I am racing against some very good friends here and it couldn't be much better. Everyone is cheerful and happy and congratulate each other. But right now, I don't have the money to do it and that's the main issue.”
Talking about Høgh Christensen, silver medalist Railey said “To be honest taking a break is a one of the best things that you can do. I also took a very long break after the games and then started sailing again in January. Then I had to have an operation in March and then took some more time off and I think that once I got done with my rehab I got back in the boat and felt really fresh. Of course physically you aren't there as much as you'd like to be but mentally it really refreshes you and I think that is something that Jonas had. He felt really good in the boat and is enjoying being back sailing again and even though you aren't training you still have all the skills set that you have had, but sometimes you just need a little break to feel refreshed and then you get going again.”
Third place Kljakovic Gaspic was elated with his third place finish. He commented, “This is the first ever medal for any Croatian sailor in Finn Gold Cup history so this is very special for me. Everybody wants to win it but there are only three places on the podium and to get there at all is really special.”
Just after the medal race, the rest of the fleet completed their 11th and final race, with a large number of sailors sent home early under the black flag. Pieter Jan Postma (NED) took the race win from Tapio Nirkko (FIN) and Jonathan Lobert (FRA). Mark Andrews (GBR) hung onto 11th place with a fourth place finish. In the juniors Jorge Zarif (BRA) narrowly beat Tomas Vika (CZE) with Filippo Baldassari (ITA) in third.
An exciting medal race was a fitting end to a tough championship and a fairy tale ending for Høgh Christensen. This may well be the end of his Finn career, at least for the time being. Coming into the regatta just 'for fun' with a very relaxed attitude, he beat a field of full time sailors and proved that the greatest battle is often with yourself.
The host club have put on a show to be proud of. The welcome and the hospitality have been extraordinary, and all the competitors and supporters have enjoyed a great week in Vallensbaek. Our hosts have done a fantastic job.
Complete online tracking of races 3-11 can be found thanks to TracTrac at: www.tractrac.com/fgc
The event blog and Twitter feed is at: http://finnclass.blogspot.com