The day started misty and calm and by 12.00 it was a beautiful sunny day with 5-6 knots on the race area. However the heavy mist rolling in through the Golden Gate was a foreteller of things to come later in the day with a cold breeze quickly building on the first leg to peak out at 22 knots.
Race three started after a general recall with most of the fleet immediately tacking onto port to head to the right hand side. This proved to be the best decision as half way up the beat it was apparent that a massive change was about to take place. While the left side was still experiencing light winds, on the right, it started to increase and when the boats tacked they easily cleared the left.
Emerging from the middle right, Alexey Selivanov (RUS) led round the top mark from Piotr Kula (POL) and Ed Wright (GBR) and Ioannis Mitakis (GRE). Oscar flag for free pumping was raised at the top mark as the wind had already increased from 6 knots to 12 knots. Wright flew down the run to round the gate in the lead from Selivanov, while Gasper Vincec (SLO) had climbed to third.
Again favouring the right hand side, Wright extended on the second upwind, while Vincec climbed to second and Thomas Le Breton climbed to third. The positions stayed the same down the final run as the wind kept increasing to 18-20 knots for some spectacular downwind sailing.
Several of the front runners had a bad race with regatta leader Rafa Trujillo (ESP) climbing from the 50s at the top mark to 35th at the finish, Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN) finishing 38th and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) in 37th.
After a second general recall race four started in 18-22 knots with the right side again being the most popular, though there were also big gains to be made on the left on the second upwind. Wright and Mark Andrews (GBR) led to the right hand corner, tacked and led round the top mark from Le Breton and Greg Douglas (CAN). Andrews got past Wright on the first downwind while Railey climbed to fourth.
Wright applied pressure to Andrews on the second beat and both passed him and created a useful gap. The final two reaches to the finish were fast and furious as the boats planed and surfed the choppy waves in balls of spray. Railey moved up to third, but Le Breton took it back on the reach to take his second third place finish of the day.
Le Breton summed his his day. “I have a good start. I am sailing well and it's nice. I had to stop sailing for about two months at the beginning of the summer as I got sick, but I am OK now. I am enjoying the sailing, so maybe that's the reason I am doing well.”
“I started sailing the Finn two years ago and Jonathan Lobert (FRA) and I have been training together in that time. For sure it's a good way to improve your speed. “
Railey said, “It has been a pretty good start to the regatta for me. I just kind of put myself in a good position after the first couple of days. I've been fortunate to four consistent results. I was very happy about the first race today. I rounded the first weather mark about 30th and got back up to seventh so that was for sure a key race for me.”
I think the regatta as far as the points being so close is going to continue. I think everyone is sailing really well and all the top guys are here, so if everyone carries on sailing the way they are the points are going to stay close the entire time. There are a few boats behind us now with a larger drops but also have some really good scores, so that will change things after the drop race comes in. But we still have a lot of sailing to go.”
“This is definitely the first windy regatta of the season. We have had some windy days before but for the most part it's been a very light airs season so we have been working hard in the gym and I came out here for three weeks training in July to prepare for this and really working on my fitness and pumping. This is a very hard venue because you have long times on one tack to one side. The right has mostly paid, but a few times the left has paid, but you are spending 8-10 minutes on one tack, so it's just about you pushing the boat as much as you can. Everyone is going really fast out there so if you let off a little bit you fade away.”
Wright said, “It was a great day today. Two bullets for me and my coach did his good deed for the day finding a Finn sail sinking on the right side in the second race. I had two good starts and didn't make any mistakes like yesterday. Mark Andrews pushed me hard on the second race by using his acrobatics on the first run and passing me. But I hope for more speed again tomorrow.”
The oldest sailor in the fleet is 75 year old Gus Miller (USA). He started his Finn career back in 1966 and has no intentions to give up just yet. Miller has seen the class evolve over more than four decades and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the boats and its sailors.
What keeps him coming back? “For me it has opened doors for me all over the world. The boat is a special boat. It is highly evolved but it's like having a little Maserati. It's so sensitive and such a good sea boat. As a kid up until I was 38 I sailed a hundred different types of boats, including 505 and oceans racers but when I sailed a Finn it was the best boat I had ever gotten in to.”
“It's a very powerful demanding boat and you need a lot of initiative and attitude that you're going to do it yourself. There are a lot of coaches out there now but basically you are out there on your own. And everyone realises the challenges is yourself not the other guys. The challenge is the boat and that understanding is the old idea “I love my competitor because he makes me better”. The guys here have enormous respect because the challenge of sailing the boat is so great. If one guy figures it out then the others guys are glad for him that he's been able to do it.”
“You see very talented new guys coming in and these guys are getting bigger and bigger. Nutrition has improved such that the Asians and others are getting bigger and stronger. And the Finn takes a big guy and a big smart guy and one of the characteristics of the Finn is that the Finn sailors has to be smart. If he's not smart big and strong then it's hopeless. You gotta have brains out there.”
How long does he think he will continue the sail the Finn. "Well I am staying on a yacht with a young Estonian and he was talking about having the Finn Gold Cup in Tallinn Bay and long ago I said I'd continue to sail the Finn until it was sailed in Tallinn Bay. So who knows. For a couple of decades now I have told my body, “just get me through one more regatta and I'll quit.” Well in the practice this week I came in one day and my body said to me, “You lied.” So as long as I can physically do it I will probably carry on."
The full video interview with Gus Miller is available on www.finngoldcup.com
Racing continues Wednesday with two more races and forecasts of slightly stronger winds coming through.
Follow it online at www.finngoldcup.com with live boat tracking from Kattack, live video feed from SailGroove, and live Twitter and blog updates from the Finn Class.
Results after 4 races:
1 FRA 115 Thomas le Breton 21
2 USA 4 Zach Railey 21
3 GBR 11 Edward Wright 23
4 GBR 41 Giles Scott 23
5 SLO 5 Gasper Vincec 25
6 GBR 88 Mark Andrew 35
7 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 48
8 CRO 25 Marin Misura 52
9 GBR 85 Andrew Mills 56
10 ITA 146 Michele Paoletti 57
Full results at http://www.yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=342
About the event
The Finn Gold Cup, the world championship of the Olympic Finn class runs from Monday 30 August to Saturday 4th September, with two races scheduled each day at 12.00 each day until Friday and the medal race for the top 10 and the final race for the rest on Saturday.
Class website: www.finnclass.org
Event website: www.finngoldcup.com
Class event blog: http://finnclass.blogspot.com
Class Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Finn-Class/110408332633
Class Twitter: http://twitter.com/Finn_Class