|Photos: Ocean Images/British Sailing Team|
According to Giles Scott (GBR), Thursday at the Sailing World Cup Miami was all about joining up the gusts. And he should know as he has now taken a 10 point lead in the regatta with just three races to sail. Scott won the second race of the day and his fourth of the week to extend his lead over Jake Lilley (AUS) and Ioannis Mitakis (GRE). Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) won the opening race.
It was all change again in Miami with wind back in the east at 13-15 knots all day. But the same faces were out in front, with the current World and European Champion Scott picking up the best score of the day with a 3, 1 to double his lead.
Starting at the earlier time of 10.00, Kljakovic Gaspic led the fleet in race 7, where the leaders came out of the right for a very congested top mark rounding. He had Björn Allansson (SWE) and Jorge Zarif (BRA) right on his tail, but sailed down the middle of the course and extended slightly. Scott rounded in ninth before breaking free of the group he was in and the chase was on. He was up to second by the gate, while Mitakis also showed some pace moving from 11th at the top to third.
Kljakovic Gaspic led the fleet back to the right with Scott leading another group closer to the middle, but also heading right. However Mitakis went further right and got past Scott and after the next downwind that was the order they finished.
The Croatian then sailed away for his first win of the week, while Scott and Mitakis kept everyone guessing. In the end Mitakis took second by a boat length from Scott, followed by Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) and Ed Wright (GBR).
The wind seemed much more settled for race 8, with little of the big places changes seen so far. Zarif rounded first from Scott, Michele Paoletti (ITA) and Lilley, again all coming from the right.
Scott had found his form again and was soon in the lead never to be headed. Zarif, the 2013 World Champion, was always there but could not get past and afterwards found out he was over the line at the start. Behind them nothing much changed. With Zarif out with a UFD (U flag disqualification) Lilley took second with Piotr Kula (POL) third, Oliver Tweddell (AUS) fourth and Paoletti fifth.
Wright summed up the day, "We had shifty conditions again today, and I didn't really make the most of it. If I was left it went right and if I was right it went left. It's a shame I picked up a RTD earlier in the week or I would be looking good now. However I am quite excited going into the last day of qualification tomorrow."
Kljakovic Gaspic described his race win. "At the first start I got clear lane after the start and kept on the right hand side. At some moments it didn't look so nice but patience paid in the end and I rounded the top mark just ahead of the fleet. On the downwind I got a bit of distance on the pack and then just controlled until the finish."
"But it was another tricky day in Miami. In the second race went to do the same but a big lefty came in and I rounded the top mark badly. Later I sailed fast and got back to the top again, finishing sixth."
Piotr Kula had a great day to move up to eighth. "Today's racing finally wasn't that big lottery as previous days, so it was more predictable. I had just good starts and tried to play with people around me. That worked out well, plus huge effort pumping downwind gave me consistant places in top. I reduced loss to guys in front of me in overall standings so it's gonna be nice fight next races."
Scott said, "The right was stronger than the left but there were routes out of the left. It was an oscillating day today with bands of pressure. It was a shift and position day, just trying to look where the breeze is and joining up the gusts. I was happy with the way today went."
Racing in Miami continues on Friday when the opening series will conclude. The medal race for the top 10 will then be sailed on Saturday. The cut to make the top 10 is very close, with four boats on similar points and another group within striking range.
The first start for Finns on Friday is scheduled for 10.00.
Results after eight races
1 GBR 41 Giles Scott 16
2 AUS 41 Jake Lilley 26
3 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 34
4 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 41
5 GBR 11 Edward Wright 46
6 AUS 261 Oliver Tweddell 48
7 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 52
8 POL 17 Piotr Kula 53
9 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 73
10 ITA 146 Michele Paoletti 74
Event website: http://miami.ussailing.org
Live tracking at: www.sailing.org/worldcup/multimedia/tracking.php