Giles Scott (GBR) retained the ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca title he won last year after a drama filled medal race, but one that ultimately didn't change any of the podium positions. Thomas Le Breton (FRA) took the silver and Jonathan Lobert (FRA) the bronze.
With a forecast all day of an average wind speed of 4 knots, it was never going to be an easy day for sailors or organisers and with some early postponements, the amended schedule had to be amended again as everyone waited for the breeze. Eventually it arrived and racing commerced an just over an hour and a half later than originally scheduled in 8 knots of wind.. Race winner Andrew Mills (GBR) said, "It was a classic Palma sea breeze day so the left was strong with pressure and potential left handers."
Regatta leader Giles Scott GBR) had one thing on his mind today, and that was second placed Thomas le Breton (FRA). Only these two could take gold. With the committee boat end favoured Scott forced Le Breton down to the pin while Scott made a conservative start in the middle.
Meanwhile third placed Jonathan Lobert (FRA) had to defend his medal from Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (FRA) and Tapio Nirkko (FIN), though Nirkko had only an outside chance. Lobert's life was made easier when Kljakovic Gaspic was OCS out of the start, along with Deniss Karpak (EST) so as long as Nirkko didn't win with Lobert last, the bronze was his.
As with the previous medal races everyone headed left, most going all the way to the layline before coming back. At the first mark it was Mills, Piotr Kula (POL), Kljakovic Gaspic and and Ed Wright (GBR).The top three overall were back in sixth, eighth and ninth. It didn't look there were going to any major upsets.
With Kljakovic Gaspic out, and the main threat to Lobert gone, the main interest for the rest of the race was whether le Breton could get four boats between himself and Scott to take the gold. Mills led down the right side on the first downwind and led round the gate from Kula while further back, Scott stuck close to le Breton. Mills pulled clear on the second and final beat while Scott slipped into last after picking up the first of two yellow flags.
At the final top mark it was still Mills, Kljakovic Gaspic, Kula and Karpak. Le Breton was up to seventh and Scott was at the back. As he tried to break away and gain two more boats on the final downwind the French sailor tried the left while most were on the right. Scott and Lobert followed at the back, and for a while Le Breton got tantalisingly close to getting enough boats between them, but as the fleet converged on the finish line, boats from the right passed ahead. Kula maintained second while Vasilij Žbogar (SLO) came in from the right in third and Wright came in from the left for fourth.
At one point Le Breton was just 10 metres and one boat away from the gold but got passed by two boats coming into the finish and ran out of track. In the end he finished just one boat ahead of Scott.
So Giles Scott takes the gold, Thomas Le Breton the silver and Jonathan Lobert the bronze.
Scott describe the race, "It was a starboard bias line with a left track. I did a good job on the start and up the first beat forcing him to the wrong end of the line. I covered him into the last upwind. I then got flagged which put him one place in front, I rounded the last upwind in ninth and Thomas in about seventh. I then received a second yellow, which was annoying to say the least. The OCSs didn't matter in the end as they were both in front of Thomas and I."
"I was pleased with the way the race started but annoyed with the yellow."
One of the big gains of the day was Kula, moving from ninth to fifth after placing second in the medal arce.
He said, "I had a lot to gain and not to much to lose. So the plan was simple: sail the best I can and beat the most guys. During warm up I saw that the shifts were pretty regular, going left and right. Before the start we had a little left shift, so I expected next one to be right. I used that in my favour, and on first mark I was second, and that was my finish place."
"Conditions were not easy. Despite the light wind, we had pretty big wawes, so we had to be really precise to keep our speed. What's maybe not so important from sport point of view, it was sunny and warm... really nice classic Mallorcan weather. I enjoyed today's sailing very much. Days like this make me happy."
"I am glad with my result. We had wide spectrum of conditions and fifth place is my best in World Cup regatta. Good kick for another load of work."
Race winner, Mills said, "I got a great start near the committee boat and led to the left and tackled almost on layline. From here I led throughout and always protected the left, both up and downwind."
"To sum up my week, a few things didn't go my way and I didn't really perform as I should in the breeze but to keep plugging away and get the fourth is pleasing for a regatta that didn't go that smoothly for me. Also it was good to get that result in a fleet that has all the major players in it."
The fleet now has a few weeks off before gathering again in Hyeres, France for the final leg of this year's ISAF sailing World Cup. Today's medal race, as all the races since Wednesday was tracked live through the ISAF website in both 2D and 3D. You can find the tracking at: http://www.sailing.org/worldcup/multimedia/tracking.php
Results after medal race (medal race in brackets)
1 GBR 41 Giles SCOTT 36 (8)
2 FRA 29 Thomas le BRETON 42 (7)
3 FRA 112 Jonathan LOBERT 50 (5)
4 GBR 85 Andrew MILLS 62 (1)
5 POL 17 Piotr KULA 67 (2)
6 SLO 573 Vasilij ZBOGAR 68 (3)
7 FIN 218 Tapio NIRKKO 69 (6)
8 GBR 11 Edward WRIGHT 74 (4)
9 CRO 524 Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC 75 (OCS)
10 EST 2 Deniss KARPAK 83 (OCS)
Further photos (free of rights for editorial use) from earlier days available at: www.flickr.com/finnclassphotos
I had a lot to gain and not to much to loose. So the plan was simple: sail the best I can and beat the most guys. During warm up I saw that shifts were pretty regular, going left and right . Before start we had a little left shift, so I expected next one to be right. I used that in my favour, and on first mark I was second, and that was my finish place.
Conditions were not easy. Despite light wind, we had preety big wawes, so we had to be really precise to keep our speed. Whats maybe not so important from sport point of view, it was sunny and warm... really nice classic Mallorcan weather. I enjoyed todays sailing very much. Days like this make me happy!
I am glad with my result. We had wide spectrum of conditions and fifth place is mz best in World Cup regatta. Good kick for another load of work!