Ioannis Mitakis (GRE), the 2012 Finn European Champion, ruled the roost in Miami today with two emphatic race wins on day three of the Sailing World Cup Miami and moves up to third overall. Giles Scott (GBR) sailed his worst day so far, but still leads with a five point gap on Jake Lilley, and 12 points over Mitakis as the event reaches its half way stage.
With the winds back in the north and starting out at 18-20 knots, it was another tricky, shifty day with a lot of ups and downs through the fleet. No one was safe, apart from Mitakis that is, who could do no wrong.
The left was clearly favoured on the first beat with Mitakis leading the left and Lilley the right. When Lilley crossed back he was just behind Mitakis and that is how it stayed for the rest of the race. Martin Robitaillie (CAN) rounded third.
Mitakis initially extended downwind while Scott was moving through the fleet. At the gate it was Mitakis, Ben Cornish (GBR) and Lilley. Scott had moved from 11th to fourth.
The leaders immediately tried left again on the second beat with Mitakis protecting his lead. Ed Wright (GBR) showed good speed to move into second at the top splitting Mitakis and Lilley. Scott was still fourth
The final downwind was easy for Mitakis with the front three comfortably clear of the pack. Lilley found a way past Wright for second, and while Scott closed right up he couldn't get through Wright and had to settle for fourth. Cornish crossed in fifth.
The wind was down to 9-10 knots for race 6 but it was the same face at the front. Playing the shifts very close to the middle Mitakis rounded the top mark in second just behind Michele Paoletti (ITA), and ahead of Piotr Kula (POL).
Nothing changed on the first downwind but half way up the second beat Mitakis was closing on Paoletti who was further to the left. The Greek gained the advantage right at the top to round first from Oliver Tweddell (AUS), who had rounded the first mark 20th, Anders Pedersen (NOR), 22nd at the first mark, and Lilley. There were some big gains to be made if you got it right. Paoletti went the other way and ended up 12th.
Scott rounded eighth and as he has done so often this week, put his foot down and was soon taking places. Mitakis however was unfazed and cruised to a 100 metre lead, but the fight behind him was far from over. Ivan Klakovic Gaspic (CRO) and Vasili Zbogar (SLO) were making big gains on the right while Scott briefly moved up to second.
At the finish Mitakis was still clear ahead while second could have gone to any of five bats, all within three boat lengths of each other. In the end Kljakovic Gaspic poked his nose across the line in second from Zbogar in third. Tweddell crossed fourth with Kula fifth. Scott came home in sixth.
Mitakis was typically understated about his outstanding performance. "The wind, as everybody will tell you, was tricky again a bit more right to day but still tricky. My plan was to start in the middle and play the shifts and then in the last metres to decide where to go. I think today apart from the good rhythm of the shifts in upwind I was also lucky so I didn't want anything more."
"Downwind I think that if you round first the only thing you have the do is stay calm and play your side. So a good day for me today, but still three more days to go."
There have been a few standout performances so far this week and another one of them is Ben Cornish (GBR), currently in 11th, in only his second season in the class. He said, "It's been a steady start for my first trip to Miami. Day 1 was somewhat frustrating letting a solid counter fall away by capsizing on the final run. Yesterday was a nice day with some big shifts in the offshore breeze and I managed to cash in on sticking to my side until things came back."
"Today was one of the hardest days I have experienced in a while having been in touch with the race winner and then making some poor calls. It was a very difficult day to predict and I would imagine a high scoring average, so I am pleased to come away with a couple of countable results."
On his progress he said, "I am starting to get up to speed with the top guys, which has allowed me to start sailing with my head out of the boat a bit more. This is certainly crucial here."
"It looks like Miami is due to deliver some good wind for the final two days of racing which I look forward to."
After Mitakis, Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic has the next best day on the water with a 6, 2. He is in fifth overall. He said, "It was another tough and strange sailing day for all of us sailing out there. In both races I got out of rhythm right at the start and then it was survival mode for the rest of time. I was pushing hard and managed to come back into the game. For sure I had good speed but today it was all about wind and occasionally some luck."
Tweddell moves up two places to seventh after a similarly good day with a 7, 4. He said, "It was another good day for me today. I'm counting some bad results so had to sail quite conservative throughout today. I had good speed and was able to put together two good races, so I can't complain with that. The racing was extremely close today due to the extreme shiftiness of the conditions."
Jakes Lilley said, "Sailing in a northwesterly in Miami is easy, said no one! Fortunately I was able to string together a few shifts and stayed near the front all day. Positioning on the downwind legs is just as tactical as the upwind and it's easy to lose places in the puffy shifty conditions."
Regatta leader Scott summed up his day. "It was very, very shifty. The left was good then it would switch and right was good. A very tricky day." Despite scoring 4, 6 he said, "It wasn't really a bad day for me. For such an difficult day, you have to be happy with counters in those conditions."
Racing in Miami continues through to Friday for the opening series, with the medal race for the top 10 on Saturday. The first start for Finns on Thursday is scheduled for the earlier time of 10.00.
Results after six races
1 GBR 41 Giles Scott 12
2 AUS 41 Jake Lilley 17
3 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 24
4 GBR 11 Edward Wright 29
5 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 33
6 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 34
7 AUS 261 Oliver Tweddell 36
8 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 37
9 POL 17 Piotr Kula 44
10 USA 6 Caleb Paine 51
Event website: http://miami.ussailing.org
Live tracking at: www.sailing.org/worldcup/multimedia/tracking.php