Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the British weather shows how wrong you can be. The atrocious weather so far at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta got a whole level worse on day four in Weymouth with stronger winds, torrential rain and limited visibility. However the stand out performer this week Giles Scott (GBR) was unfazed by the conditions to notch up a fifth race win in the only race possible. He now has a 12 point lead over Ben Ainslie and a 23 point lead over third placed Zach Railey (USA).
Strong winds restricted the Finns to the inner harbour course today as the event was lashed by heavy rain and simply horrible conditions. The Finn fleet was held on shore all morning while other classes got some races in and were released at just before midday. Race seven got away first time at 13.00.
Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) emerged through the gloomy murk to lead at the top mark from Rafael Trujillo (ESP) and Giles Scott (GBR). The conditions worsened through the race with winds up to 20 knots and increasingly bad visibility. Postma held onto his lead at the gate while Scott moved up to second and Brendan Casey (AUS) to third.
Scott made his move on the next downwind and Mark Andrews (GBR) also got past Postma up the second beat. Scott then sailed away to win by a sizeable margin while Daniel Birgmark (SWE) squeezed in third place just ahead of Postma.
The conditions had by then turned so bad that the race committee sent the fleet ashore for the day.
Scott now leads by regatta by 12 points with two days to go. He commented, “It was pretty miserable out there, rainy and wet but it wasn't too windy, maybe 20 knots. It only got windy when the clouds cleared and it came through at 35 knots – the racing was fine.”
“It was a good show from the British boys, we love the rain. I haven’t done a lot of Finn racing recently, but I’m still in shape and I’ve been doing a lot of America’s Cup sailing which is really physical. I’ve also been training with Ben and the other boys so I’m not racing fit, but I’m still physically fit and capable of sailing a Finn. I seem to be sailing quite fast, so more of the same tomorrow. It’s looking fresh so I think we might be on for an afternoon sail but I’m sure we will get a race in.”
Seventh in the race and now fifth overall, Jonathan Lobert (FRA) said, “Today was not as windy as expected with around 15 to 20 knots, but it was very shifty. I was pretty happy with my speed upwind and I could play with the top guys. I made some mistakes at the beginning of the second beat so I dropped a bit in the fleet but I managed to come back on the last downwind. So I am happy with my race.”
“It was good to get some southerly wind because it was the first time. As expected, to be good this summer in the Games I will have to be fast upwind and downwind. I think we all have a good example with Giles this week. For now I am happy with my position. I have been struggling this year to have any consistency in my sailing. So I am taking race by race and we will see at the end.”
It was a dramatic day for third placed Zach Railey (USA). While rounding the leeward gate, one of the boats behind tried to take a more direct route and barged at the mark, colliding with the American. He explained, “The race today was tough. In fact the whole day has been tough. We waited around with this weather system and we finally got out onto the water and I was doing pretty good in the race. I had just made up a bunch of boats on the downwind and was waiting to go around the leeward marks. It was very tight with the pack and there was a boat that came in without room and unfortunately tried to take room on a couple of us. There was a pretty big collision which threw me out of the boat and the boat got broken in the process. So I had to come in.”
Railey claimed for redress and was granted that to remain in third place overall, just one point ahead of Postma in fourth and now 10 points behind Ben Ainslie (GBR) in second.
The final opening series races are scheduled for Friday with the medal race on Saturday. However Friday's forecast doesn't dip much below 30 knots until mid-afternoon, so the race team will be hard pressed to get in any out of the maximum of three races possible. It will be another tough day at the Olympic venue.
Results after seven races
Photos: Thom Touw
Event website: http://www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk