Saturday, 16 April 2011

Ainslie Again and Again in the Finns in Palma

Ainslie wins the Finns. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

by Robert Deaves

The Finn medal race of the 42 Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia in Palma followed a familiar pattern with Ben Ainslie (GBR)taking his seventh race win of the week and also taking the overall prize for the best performance across all classes. Below him not much changedwith Giles Scott (GBR) taking the silver and Thomas Le Breton (FRA) taking the bronze.

On another day of light winds and small choppy waves, Ainslie led from the top mark all the way. Rafa Trujillo (ESP)rounded in second as Ainslie sailed away from the fleet. His only threat, Giles Scott (GBR) was back in seventh. Ainslie increased his lead again onthe second upwind while the rest of fleet had a tough fight at the first downwind mark. Ainslie comfortably maintained his lead and won by more than150 metres (about 40 seconds), while Zach Railey (USA) had a great final downwind to move from fifth to second. The rest of the fleet came to finishin a close group and the final result for the rest was fixed during last few meters.

On his return to the class Ainslie said “At Miami, I learnt a huge amount and despite some issues in the regattafinished one point off the lead. Since then we have been working hard on the kit development and fitness and I'm happy that we made some good gains.I'm really pleased with the progress made but certainly have more improvements to make.”

On Palma, “It's a tricky venue here in Palma but I seem to be getting back the fleet racing tactical calls andhad good speed throughout a range of conditions.”

Does he feel if it had been a windy regatta it would have been a different story? “Who knows, it's not reality.The first day we had 25 knots plus and that was great fun and tough physically. We've had a good range of conditions at this event. It has been hardwork to come back because with the 10 knot rule you need to be really fit. I am working on my fitness and I need to get used to the boatagain.”

Scott, who finished fourth in the race but maintained his second overall, said, “I had the first beat wrong andit wasn't my best conditions. And Ben was very fast.”

Rafa Trujillo (ESP) closed his week with a third place in the medal race. He summed up his week, “I was sickbefore the regatta and spent three days in bed. I didn't read the weather and the field well this week. I have been coming too often here and got usedto the shifts going left so I didn't look and expected the wind to do the same. And of course it didn't. This week was my conditions with ten knotsand choppy but I was not feeling good. Also I had a flat sail and was slow. I will fix that. Now we are resting then some training with Ed and otherguys in Valencia and then to Hyères. There I expect the mistral!”

Last place in the medal race and 10th overall went to Johan Tillander (SWE), who is back in Finn after twoand half years sailing Stars with Fredrik Loof. “My objective was top ten so I am really happy. I was so happy with top ten that I was notreally concentrating today."

Start of the Finn medal race. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

Dan Slater had a chance to snatch the bronze from Le Breton but it didn't quite work out. “I rounded the firstmark in fifth, one place behind Le Breton. Down the first run not much changed then on the second beat I lost a little and then gained it back but Iwas still behind on the final run to the finish. Down that run I tried to work to the left of the three boats in front to try and beat them to thegybe and in doing so lost two more boats to the finish so it really was not a great race.”

“But overall I still finished fourth and am happy with the way the regatta went. I still have lots of things towork on that will improve my performance. The class is seeing some changes in rigs, sails and even boats and the guys who are doing development inthese areas have already moved forward. This regatta saw some new rig concepts that showed they were faster and higher than the standardrigs.”

Slater continued, “Ben and Giles have sailed well this week again. Their strength is downwind where they aremaking the gains. Ben has sailed well upwind as well, rounding the top mark in the first few most races.” Does Ainslie have a weakness?“To say he has a weakness in a class that he has been at the front of now for eight years is a big ask. but I'm sure if we had a windy regattamaybe it would be a bit different for us older boys.

Zach Railey was also happy with his week. “It was a very puffy race. Ben and I got off to a good start at thepin. He got some good pressure he rounded first at the top mark. I was fourth in a pack with Rafa, Ed and Thomas. It all stayed very close until thefinish with Dan and Ed in the mix. I had a great last downwind to finish second and secure fifth overall. I feel really good as a top five was ourgoal, but we also identified some stuff to correct so all in all a good week.”

Ainslie also increases his lead at the top of the ISAF Sailing World Cup rankings from Scott and Railey. The fleet havejust two weeks to rest and get ready for the next leg in Hyeres, starting April 22. We'll be back then with more Finn action.

Final Results (medal race in brackets)

1 GBR 3 Ben AINSLIE 22 (1)
2 GBR 41 Giles SCOTT 42 (4)
3 FRA 29 Thomas Le BRETON 54 (5)
4 NZL 1 Dan SLATER 70 (8)
5 USA 4 Zach RAILEY 77 (2)
6 ESP 100 Rafael TRUJILLO 88 (3)
7 GBR 11 Ed WRIGHT 88 (7)
8 SLO 573 Vasilij ZBOGAR 92 (6)
9 SLO 5 Gasper VINCEC 92 (9)
10 SWE 736 Johan TILLANDER 94 (10)

Finn Class
Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE