Pieter Jan Postma (NED) takes a one point lead in the Finns after three testing races at the Finn Gold Cup at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships. Giles Scott (GBR), who won two races, sits one point back, while previous regatta leader Ben Ainslie (GBR) is in third and three third places on Wednesday.
The story of the day was the disqualification of a large number of sailors who picked up black flags in the blue fleet at the start of race three. These included several of the regatta favourites including Ed Wright (GBR), Rafa Trujillo (ESP), Zach Railey (USA) and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO).
ITO, Peter Reggio, explained, “It was a very trying day. But the conditions were fantastic. The left was favoured and this is probably why the guys were so eager to take this side and push the start which ended up in several recalls and disqualification. In the first race, four boats were disqualified in the first group and 11 in the second over three attempts to start. Tomorrow, we are starting the finals with a race at 2pm.”
It was always going to be a tough day off Fremantle and as the sea breeze filled in and built during the day. The breeze peaking at around 22 -23 knots with a substantial sea forming, and took its toll on the sailors, who spent nearly eight hours on the water and returned exhausted, though happy with a great day's sailing.
In the yellow group, Giles Scott (GBR) immediately took the advantage of the stronger wind and won races three and four. He led most of race five as well, but got overtaken in the closing stages by Postma. Postma picked up two second places in the first races to end the day one point down on Scott, but it was enough to take the overall lead. Overnight leader Ben Ainslie (GBR) didn't look as dominating as he was in Monday's races and picked up three third places to end the day in third overall.
In the blue group, Jonathan Lobert (FRA) took advantage of the disqualified sailors to record a big win in the first race of the day, followed by Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) and Thomas Le Breton (FRA), and followed that up with a third and second in the races to end the day in fourth overall. Defending world champion Ed Wright (GBR) responded to his black flag disqualification by emphatically winning the next two races by significant margins, with Rafa Trujillo (ESP) picking up a second place and Deniss Karpak (EST) continuing his excellent week with a third.
The sailors didn't get back to the marina until past 18.30, after a very long day on the water, and are glad to have just one race on Thursday.
Though Scott had the best day, he sits in second overnight. “Everything went well today except on the last race when I rounded the wrong mark at the bottom gate and lost a place to second. I had good speed and was able to put some pressure on the early leaders. The first day of racing was frustrating, I had the speed but didn't sail smart. It was good to be fighting it off with PJ.”
Postma added, “I had three good races so I am of course really happy, my speed is improving, I got more into the rhythm. I made a mistake on the first race [on Monday] so I have no way out. I have to be careful and watch out. Ben and Giles have no bad races. Tomorrow is the start of the final, but I will do my business as usual, try to take good start, good speed...I am really looking forward to it!”
Winner of race three in the blue group, Lobert said, “I won the first race from start to finish. It was a real opportunity for me that most of the top guys in my fleet were disqualified at the start. I lead to the top mark after winning the start at the pin end and just increased my lead. It is the first time I have won a race in a Finn Gold Cup. It is so exhilarating.”
“The left side paid again on the second race. I had Ed and Rafa in front and with the big waves downwind, I couldn't get any advantage. On the upwind legs they are both really fast so I had to keep my third place. I was not really in the regatta the first day, now I am in the game.”
Oliver Tweddell (AUS), has been putting in the hours and is currently lying in 25th place after a good start to the regatta. “I have improved since the last Finn Gold Cup in San Francisco. I am pushing myself hard and have bettered my downwind technique. Before I used to lose between 10 and 15 places on the downwind legs. I did lots of training in Melbourne with wind and waves in the sea breeze. I am still learning here, especially the tactics by watching the top guys, and it also makes me realise how much I still have to learn. My objective in this regatta is top 20.”
Wright explain his race wins , “In the second race I came in from the right in the end. I got a couple of shifts out to the right and everyone was defending the left so I was quite lucky there. Downwind I extended, so I was happy with that, but I was struggling with the reaching, heading for the wrong mark.”
On being careful in the rest of the regatta with an BFD on the scorecard, “We're used it it really. We always have bad ones at some point, so this is no different.”
Another young sailor making his mark is Greg Douglas (CAN), currently in 21st place overall, after two top ten places today. “I had a really good first race today with a fifth. It was windy and that's the way I like it.”
Douglas has been coached by 2008 Olympian Chris Cook (CAN), who is currently in 16th place just seven points ahead of Douglas. “Having him coach was me great. He got me started in the right direction straight away. Since last year I have really improved my fitness and my downwind sailing. Being able to pass boats downwind is a huge advantage.”
“The goal for the week is to beat Chris, but our trials go on to next year, so basically I will try to keep it close and sail my best. But it's really tough out there and with three races it was a long day.”
With five races now completed, the fleet has been split into gold and silver heats for the remaining races. One race will be sailed on Thursday to catch up with the schedule before four more races on Friday and Saturday will decide the top ten to go into Sunday's medal race.
Follow the Finn racing on the class blog at: http://www.finngoldcup.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2&Itemid=6 which includes the Twitter feeds of many of the sailors racing in Perth. All you need to know in one place.
Results after five races:
Full results so far at: http://www.perth2011.com/competition/PERTH2011/SAM002000/results