With neither sailor giving an inch in the unforgiving Weymouth conditions, Giles Scott (GBR) will go into Sunday's medal race with a six point advantage over Josh Junior (NZL). Andrew Murdoch (NZL) is in third place a further nine points behind. Race wins on Saturday went to Junior and Scott, who took the final two races.
After Friday's racing was lost with no wind the Finn fleet sailed three races to catch up one of those lost. A late start at 14.00 combined with moderate south-westerlies of 12-18 knots combined to make a long, tough day, but for half of the fleet it was the final as only 10 go through to Sunday's medal race.
The first race led initially by Max Salminen (SWE), starting mid line and then favouring the right side. However Junior was round in second and took the lead on the first downwind never to be headed. Scott moved into second at the top of the second upwind, but Salminen hung onto third on the final downwind.
Scott owned the second race, leading all the way round, but Junior was there again, passing Jake Lilley (AUS) on the first downwind to hold second to the finish, and the only sailor really pushing Scott in this race. Salminen was having another great race to cross in third.
The final race was a battle between Scott and Salminen. Scott led at the top again, but Salminen then led for the next two marks before Scott got through downwind for his second win of the day. Murdoch monopolised third place, while Junior crossed fourth to set up a medal race thrilling.
Only Scott, Junior or Murdoch can now take the title, with Jonathan Lobert (FRA) and Salminen also in with a chance of a medal.
It has been a good week for Salminen. He has some previous history here after wining gold in the Star class alongside Fredrik Lööf (SWE). “It felt like I was really in tune with both the waves downwind and the shifts going upwind, so it must have paid off, four years sailing here. The sailing conditions are perfect. With the whole Olympics we had days like today with good waves, sun and good sailing.”
On his week, “A good part of the week happened today since we didn't get any racing yesterday. It was a good day to do good. It was the first day that we had normal conditions as I remember Weymouth. I've been going well here. Obviously it's been a breezy regatta and the small fleet reminds me of what we are going to have in the Olympics, so it's been really good training. The race committee have done a great job.”
Just making the medal race cut, Jake Lilley (AUS) described his week. “It's been a pretty tough week. I have some really good speed upwind and good starts, with some good top mark roundings, but I just haven't been able to get to the bottom mark so well. So I have some downwind speed to work on going away from here.”
“I sailed here in 2012 here in the Laser and it wasn't such a good regatta for me from memory, but it's nice to come back and it feels a bit like a repeat with a few people from the Olympics so that's kind of cool. But to make the medal race here in such a quality fleet is pleasing.”
Murdoch said, “Overall I am pretty happy with how things have gone so far. This season I have struggled a little bit in the breeze, but now I am getting a little bit more speed both upwind and downwind so really happy about that. Things are starting to come together but obviously the main goal this year is Gold Cup in New Zealand, so we are working towards that.”
On the medal race, “Tomorrow is going to be a good battle. The points are not super close, but it might be a bit lighter so anything can happen.”
On the event, “We've certainly had more breeze here than the rest of the events in Europe that I have done. And we had nor-easterlies on two days and we haven't really seen that in all the time I spent training here in the lead up to the London Games but it was good racing. We have a bit more of typical day today with 15-18 knots with great waves downwind. It was awesome sailing."
Junior said, “It's been a very good week. I had three good races today. In the first two I had some really good battles with Giles, we were neck and neck the whole race, extending on the fleet. It's good to be so close to the lead again.”
On the medal race, “Anything can still happen, so I'll just try to have a good race and see what happens.”
With Kiwis in second and third, does he feel they are making good progress. “I think we are now getting the gear right and are starting to go really fast. Doc has been a great sailor for many years and I've sailed pretty well and we are both starting to move towards the front, so hopefully that continues and we can do this more regularly.”
On the event, “The race management here has been fantastic. They have run an awesome event and we've been lucky to have solid conditions of 10-20 knots. It's been great racing, so thanks to Weymouth for putting on an awesome event.”
The medal race will be held in Portland Harbour on Sunday at 12.30. It will be broadcast live on Youtube.
Results after seven races (1 drop)
1 GBR 41 Giles Scott 8
2 NZL 24 Josh Junior 14
3 NZL-16 Andrew Murdoch 23
4 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 31
5 SWE 33 Max Salminen 35
6 GBR 91 Ben Cornish 48
7 GBR-11 Edward Wright 53
8 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 55
9 AUS 41 Jake Lilley 55
10 FIN 218 Tapio Nirkko 57
ISAF YouTube Channel - www.youtube.com/isafchannel/
Live medal races: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQ8hlJyeqxk