Saturday, 4 September 2010
Ed Wright. Image copyright Robert Deaves.
by Robert Deaves
After another two windy races, the top five at the Finn Gold Cup in San Francisco maintain their relative positions but Rafa Trujillo (ESP) who scored 1-2 and Ed Wright (GBR) who scored 2-5 increased their lead over the rest of the fleet. Giles Scott (GBR) hangs onto third place after placing 3-6, but it is fast turning into a battle for supremacy between Wright and Trujillo.
The big winds and close competition is also proving something of a hit on the internet with more than 9,000 internet users enjoying the live video stream provided by SailGroove this week.
Race seven got underway under black flag on the third attempt and again turned into a drag race to the right. Rafa Trujillo (ESP) made the best of the upwind to round just ahead of regatta leader Ed Wright (GBR), Andrew Mills (GBR), Marin Misura (CRO) and Thomas Le Breton (FRA). Wright chose the left side downwind and found more pressure to move past Trujillo but the Spaniard chose more middle ground in the second upwind to retake the lead when Wright went further right. Le Breton moved up to third, but then suffered gear failure on the reaches to the finish to drop to 10th while Giles Scott (GBR) took advantage of that to take third.
Trujillo again led to the top mark in race eight followed by defending champion Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN), Zach Railey (USA), Wright and Jonathan Lobert (FRA). With the winds topping 22 knots and a very nasty sea running it was probably the toughest race so far, but also according to Trujillo the most fun.
Høgh Christensen (DEN) took the lead on the second beat and the Dane led until the final thrilling stages of the fast spray filled second reach. He rounded the wing mark still in the lead and with the line in sight dug deep to maintain speed and stamina for the final few hundred metres. But coming from behind was Daniel Birgmark (SWE). He had already take Trujillo to leeward and catching a few waves better than Høgh Christensen, surfed through his lee to take the race win by a couple of boatlengths. It was the closest and most exciting finish of the week.
Birgmark said, “I am really enjoying sailing here in San Francisco though I think I am not the fastest upwind. There are about 10-15 boats that are much faster than me upwind, but now in the last race when there was a little bit more shifty conditions I was able to take advantage of that and I was faster on the reaches.
Birgmark. Image copyright Robert Deaves.
“The last reach was a lot of fun. I like these broad reaches as it's quite tactical. You have to choose your track and take your chances to go down to get a good position to increase your speed. It's quite challenging. I passed both Rafa and Jonas to leeward and I managed to catch some really good waves to get good speed and I had a good track into the finish.”
“I don't remember winning a race at the worlds before, so I am very happy. Coming into the championship my goal was to be top three, but I had a cold at the beginning of the week and I didn't sail as well as I could have. I have still a lot of work to do but I hope to be top 10. ”
Trujillo said, “We had two really different races today. The first race was a really typical San Francisco race planning your start and trying to go as fast as you can to the right side. The second race was the most fun race of the week we had a lot of shifty conditions and you needed to play the middle. It was completely different and I enjoyed the second one much more than the first one, even though I didn't do as well. The first one was really hard for me with a hard fight with Ed.”
“I realised that the second race would be a key race because it would be easy to pick up a lot of points. I was leading but finished third, but that's OK as the objective for the day was two top 10s . I have a 35th and I cannot make any more mistakes. The legs were 1.8 miles long and Ed went to the left on the downwind and I stayed in the middle and he got better pressure and a shift into the gate and passed me. So I used this information on the second beat and passed him.”
“In the second race we had a lot more options and it was more fun, playing the shifts, looking forward, avoiding the holes. It was really fun.”
For the first time in more years than anyone can remember there is a substantial entry from Australia. An unprecedented eight Australians are competing this week, which is a reflection on the huge growth currently underway in the Australian Finn fleet.
As is often the case, the growth comes down to the enthusiasm drive and commitment of one person, in the case an ex-pat British Finn sailor, Rob McMillan (AUS).
McMillan, a three time British National Champion in the Finn is currently lying in 45th position after a 33 and 23 today, his best results so far this week.
“It's my first year back in the class. I had a 10 year break but the objective is steady sailing this year and back to full time sailing next year. But just to be out there competing and racing against these guys is for me an enormous privilege and I wouldn't miss it for the world.”
“We are currently building a really good fleet of Finns in Australia. I am importing Finns down there and we are certainly finding, especially with the Masters, that there is a real niche for the boat and encouragingly for people like Oliver Tweedell, at 19, at his first Gold Cup having come third at the Silver Cup last week and sailing really well in 35th place this week. It's great to see some Australian kids get into the boat.”
“There is a lot of fleet building going on. We have sold around 20-30 boats this year. Some of those are upgrades but some are new people and from a real diverse spectrum and I think we've certainly got the opportunity to sell another 25-30 this year alone. I am hoping we are going to see a Nationals this year with 40-50 boats which will be a massive step change from recent years.”
Greg Douglas. Image copyright Robert Deaves.
What keeps him coming back to the Finn, “Well, look, I have sailed the boat for so many years now. My first regatta in the Finn was at Hayling Island in the UK in 1983; I think it was the UK Nationals. There is no other boat like it. The evolution of the boat has been sensibly controlled. The advent of free pumping brings a level of athleticism that is unique to the Finn and the boat today is just such a pleasure to sail. You can still compete as long as you are reasonably fit, so what else would you want to be doing at the weekend or a couple of nights a week, but go sail a Finn. Sounds pretty good to me.”
The final two qualification races are scheduled for Friday before Saturday's medal race. The top five boats have created a 32 point cushion over the rest of the fleet, with just eight points separating the next five boats. Both Wright and Trujillo have a high score they will want to avoid counting so Friday's two races will be crucial for both of them, and with another 10 boats or so looking to make the cut into the top 10, it's going to be an exciting day.
Results after 8 races:
1 GBR 11 Edward Wright 16
2 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 26
3 GBR 41 Giles Scott 33
4 FRA 115 Thomas le Breton 38
5 USA 4 Zach Railey 38
6 SLO 5 Gasper Vincec 70
7 CRO 25 Marin Misura 72
8 GBR 85 Andrew Mills 73
9 GBR 88 Mark Andrews 75
10 AUS 1 Brendan Casey 78
Finn Gold Cup