Giles Scott (GBR) has won the 2014 Finn Gold Cup at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) started the day in second overall and a win in the medal race comfortably gave him the silver medal. Ed Wright (GBR) eventually took bronze after a close battle with Jonathan Lobert (FRA).
The day started windless and racing was postponed, though a light sea breeze was expected later in the day. A light, fickle breeze duly arrived and the Finn medal race was characterised by big shifts and pressure changes across the course that ultimately decided the bronze medal.
Josh Junior (NZL) led out of the right side of the start from Giles Scott (GBR) and rounded the top mark first. Scott took the lead on the first downwind, but on the second upwind the left side proved heavily favoured. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) found the best route to take the lead and he never looked like relinquishing it.
Jonathan Lobert (FRA) just had to beat Ed Wright (GBR) to take the bronze, and had led him through the gate. However Wright chose the opposite gate and sailed straight into a pressure zone and moved quickly from ninth to third, leaving Lobert stuck in much less wind. From there Wright held on up the third beat while Lobert was helpless to recover. Lobert finished fourth overall again and it still looking for his first major championship medal.
Junior sailed a great race to finish second and moved up to fifth overall, passing his team mate Andrew Murdoch (NZL), who had been ahead going into the medal race.
Giles Scott's only job today was to finish the race cleanly to wrap up his second world title in the Finn. Fourth place gave him a winning margin of 14 points.
He said, "It's a been a great season for me and I can't really think of a better way to round it off than with the world title. It's been a great event and I am really pleased with the way I have sailed, and there's always a lot to learn from it, but I'm over the moon about it."
Did he expect to be so dominant throughout the event? "I never really let myself think like that. But the event has gone really well. I have sailed well from day one and managed to keep it going through the regatta."
"It's a big milestone. I try to stay realistic, but my big goal is in two years time. But this is a very big step towards that so I am really looking forward to the next two years."
Of course he last won the Finn Gold Cup in Perth at the last ISAF Sailing World Championships. "The Perth win was an odd one with the other issues going on, so it's great to come out here and feel I have fully won this event outright. It's nice to be able to say I am now a double World and European champion."
On the race, "I just went out and sailed my own race and kind of forgot what was going on with the other guys. You can try and get out of their way but I was racing as much as they were. I wanted to go out on a high and I managed to almost do that."
Next for Scott? "A bit of time off I think. I will be back in the Finn in January, and will do a full season next year but will take it easy for a while."
The silver medal for Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) is his best ever world championship result and proves he is on course for Rio. It concludes a great season for the double Olympian, who is arguably one of the best, and most successful, sailors in the fleet never to win an Olympic medal. This is clearly something he is planning to put right in Rio and this medal is a great boost at the half way stage in his campaign.
He said, "The week has been great for me, a really excellent performance. Today I knew I had to be relaxed and keep calm and I did exactly that and it put me right into the lead. Then I had really clear lanes through the race and really good moments. I sailed pretty consistently today, as I did all week, and it it turned out to be a winning combination for me."
"It's an important event for me because after a couple of years of some general setbacks, I really made a great performance here, with all my team behind me. This really makes me happy and all of this proves that we are working in the right way and the progress is just going forwards and I hope in Rio it is going to be even better."
On his consistent performance he said,"All my life I was always struggling in the breeze but this week was three days of pretty strong, shifty and breezy conditions which proved I can perform in any kind of wind. That's what I have been focussing on the last couple of years, trying to get myself in shape to sail in all conditions. So I am pretty happy I have succeeded in this and it makes me quite me quite confident and sure about the future."
Wright's bronze is his fifth successive world championship medal and perhaps an indication that Scott needs to keep pushing to maintain his advantage.
He said, "On the second beat I got a gust on the left hand side and moved up to third and held that all the way. It was a nail biting race and I really enjoyed sailing in it. It means a lot to me to get a medal at the worlds and I needed this medal, so I'm really happy with that."
On his tactics, "There were people nipping on our heels, and there was a chance of getting the silver, so to be honest I just wanted to go out and win the race. That was my tactic, and if I had the chance to push Jonathan back I would have done."
"It's been a hard week after I had a OCS early on and I've been struggling a bit with that. But it was all to play for today and it was a real fun race to be part of. I now just need to wind it up a bit more and try to catch Giles. I am putting together some big winter plans, with training in Rio and then Miami, so it should be fun."
The ISAF Sailing World Championship closed tonight in Santander. It has been an interesting week in many ways with a number of favourites failing to secure their Olympic spot this time around. They now have to wait until the 2015 Finn Gold Cup in Takapuna, New Zealand next November which is the next qualification regatta.
Results after medal race (medal race results in brackets)
1 GBR 41 Giles Scott 18 (4)
2 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 32 (1)
3 GBR 11 Edward Wright 50 (3)
4 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 61 (9)
5 NZL 24 Josh Junior 68 (2)
6 NZL 16 Andrew Murdoch 72 (6)
7 USA 6 Caleb Paine 75 (5)
8 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 75 (7)
9 FRA 29 Thomas Le Breton 76 (8)
10 SWE 33 Max Salminen 91 (10)
Extensive gallery of each day can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/finnclassphotos/ and on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Finn-Class/110408332633
Photo credit: Robert Deaves/Finn Class