Following a stellar day for Jake Lilley (AUS) on Thursday his lead at the top of the Finn fleet at the Sailing World Cup Hyeres has vanished in the light French airs as he struggled all day on Friday and now goes into the final day of the opening series on equal points with Oliver Tweddell (AUS). Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) moves up to third while the two race wins went to Jorge Zarif (BRA) and Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN).
You couldn’t make it up; what a difference a day makes; it’s never over until it’s over...clichés are inadequate to describe the battle going on at the top of the Finn fleet in Hyeres. Olympic trials always bring out the best in sailors, even more so when it gets to the pointy end of the selections. But who could have predicted that Lilley and Tweddell would have upped their game so much that they top out a fleet of the calibre that is present in Hyeres, and on equal points, and an almost equal discard.
Another new set of conditions tested the sailors on the third day in Hyeres, and with no more than 8 knots of breeze all day, the patchy winds caught out the unwary.
After Lilley’s double bullets yesterday, he could only manage a 13, 19 today, while Tweddell, who is normally better in light winds, posted a 4, 11. Not great scores by any means but on a day like it was in Hyeres, it was good enough, with the light shifty winds bringing a pile of new boats to the front.
The first race of the day was a huge win for the 2013 World Champion, Jorge Zarif (BRA), crossing the line more than a minute ahead of second place Anders Pedersen (NOR). A third place for Kljakovic Gaspic moved him up to third overall, with a fourth for Tweddell moved him back up to second. The regatta leader Lilley, fairly badly, crossing in 13th, but not as badly as Josh Junior (NZL) who picked up an OCS for starting too early and dropped out of the top three for the first time.
Zarif, who won the Sailing World Cup Miami this year, led most of the way. “It was light but not so shifty. I started in the middle, waiting for a good line of pressure and fortunately a good one came, so I rounded first. The downwind was OK, but on the second beat I made a mess and lost a lot of metres to the right. Luckily in the last 200 metres a good righty with pressure came in, so I was able to be close to Anders. On the last downwind, I had a little bit more breeze than him and passed.”
Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) pulled out all the stops in race 6 to lead all the way from Björn Allansson (SWE). Third place belonged to Italy with first Enrico Voltolini (ITA) and then Giorgio Poggi (ITA) coming through on the second upwind.
The Dane said, “Tricky day, very light and shifty. I won the pin and wanted to go left as I thought there was more wind. I got lifted out of the start so initially it did not look too good but luckily I am so old that it takes me some time to figure out when to tack. Luckily when I came around to it the wind had shifted back with pressure. From there it was a case of consolidating and covering.”
Tweddell said, “Today was very light and tricky with lots of holes around the race course, and big oscillations making it extremely difficult for us.”
On his ongoing trials he said, “I've just been trying to focus on my own races, and perform as best I can. We have had a bit of everything so far this week, and I'm sure tomorrow will be just as tough. I'm obviously very pleased with how the week is progressing, but with the shorter racing format we have two very important races tomorrow, and I look forward to seeing what the day brings.”
Høgh-Christensen commented on the final day of qualifcation. “It looks pretty open at the top of the regatta and a good day tomorrow can put you in a position to win.”
But there is still a long way to go and nothing can be taken for granted. The leading sailors today added more than 20 points to their score, and there are only 19 points separating the top 10 going into the final opening series races. Two races are scheduled for Saturday to decide the top 10 for Sunday’s medal race.
Results after six races
1 AUS 41 Jake Lilley 27
2 AUS 261 Oliver Tweddell 27
3 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 29
4 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 31
5 NZL 24 Josh Junior 34
6 DEN 2 Jonas Hogh-Christensen 36
7 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 37
8 USA 6 Caleb Paine 43
9 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 45
10 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 46
Full results here.