Monday 6 September 2010

Finn Gold Cup: Wright puts wrong to right at the Finn Gold Cup

Ed Wright (GBR) wins the Finn Gold Cup. Image copyright Robert Deaves.

by Robert Deaves

Ed Wright (GBR) put a wrong to right today in winning the Finn Gold Cup in San Francisco. It has been an enigma of the class that the former world number one had never won a world title. He had come close on a number of occasions, but this week in San Francisco, he put together an incredibly consistent and winning performance to take the Finn world title in the best possible way by dominating and winning the medal race. Rafa Trujillo (ESP) took the Silver while Giles Scott (GBR) took the Bronze.

The final day started with race 11 for the rest of the fleet with Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) leading round the top mark from Daniel Birgmark (SWE) and Alejandro Muscat (ESP). Birgmark took the lead on the first downwind and led round the remainder of the course to take his second race win of the week to finish 12th overall. Bjorn Allansson (SWE) sailed well to place second while third place for Marin Misura (CRO) kept him in 11th overall.

Oscar flag for free pumping downwind was raised on the first downwind and stayed up for the rest of the day with the wind reaching 17 knots during the medal race for the top 10, which followed soon after race 11 was completed. This meant that Oscar had been raised on each and every downwind leg of the championship, giving the Jury very little to do.

Medal race start. Image copyright Robert Deaves.

The big question for the medal race was whether second placed Rafa Trujillo (ESP) would go for gold or protect silver. It was obvious within minutes what his strategy would be as he stuck to third placed Giles Scott (GBR) like glue and covered his wind all the way round the course. Scott was faster downwind and broke through twice but he couldn't gain enough boats to take the silver medal from the Spaniard.

Meanwhile, the regatta leader by 13 points, Ed Wright (GBR), won the pin end start and powered away, never headed during the entire race. He initially headed to the left and then crossed back to the middle without ducking a single transom. He rounded the top mark just ahead of Gasper Vincec (SLO), Zach Railey (USA), Thomas Le Breton (FRA), Brendan Casey (AUS), Mark Andrews (GBR), Andrew Mills (GBR), Trujillo, Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) and Scott. With Scott in last place Trujillo had done his work well.

Scott immediately went low and passed three boats leaving Trujillo at the back. With Wright sailing away from the fleet, the fight was now on for silver. Trujillo rounded the gate just behind Scott, but within a few tacks was back in control and taking Scott to the left hand side, which he thought was not favoured. Also going this way were Railey and Mills and they crossed back in second and third. Trujillo and Scott also came back into the fleet closer than Trujillo has planned and again Scott passed Trujillo downwind. But he needed to take two boats to take the silver from Trujillo.

It was a nervous last downwind for the Spaniard as Scott sailed away and he was left behind. Scott caught up the pack ahead but could not take any boats and finished ninth to take bronze, with Trujillo crossing in tenth to take the silver.

Wright leads Vincec. Image copyright Robert Deaves.

A clearly happy Wright said, “I am so excited. It's something I have been working on for a while. Last year I got close, but this year I did it. The last couple of days have been the best of the regatta. Really windy and really difficult sailing, but I am really so happy. I am tired, but it doesn't matter. It's over now.
Wright is renowned for being the fittest sailor in the fleet but commented, “I was surprised how fit the others guys were out there. But it does make a difference. It's nice to feel fresh each morning. I have put a lot of effort into this year did quite a lot of training over the summer and changed my body shape. Everything was gearing up towards this event. I am really happy.
“It was brutal at times. Just great sailing. The boat is a powerful boat and it's so taxing sailing here. I loved every minute of the week. Rafa has been training hard as well and was sailing fast. But it was good to actually get out there on the track and actually do some real sailing. I only had to get seventh in the final race and I managed to win it, which was even better so I am really happy with that.
“I just needed to stay near Giles and Rafa and it was apparent straight after the start that they were messing around with each other so I could just sail my own race. I just kept a loose cover on them and it made life a lot easier. To win the last race is great. I feel like I am sailing fast and really excited going forward to the next event.”

Fourth placed Railey commented, “It was a good race and very intense. I went in in fourth and very close with Thomas but I had a shot at third. So I wanted to try and push Giles back as much as I could, as he had to be last and I had to win the race, it was a tall order and I ended up second but he sailed very well after that.
“But I'll take fourth at a world championship, though it is disappointing not to be on the podium. That was the goal. I think I averaged a fifth and that was part of the goal coming in as we thought that would be enough for the podium, but there were three other sailors here who just sailed a little bit better than me. Ed, Rafa and Giles were the three best sailors here this week.
“It's probably the best regatta I have sailed this year and if I can build on that this winter and work on stuff, then we'll get ready for the 2011 season.
Silver medalist Trujillo talked about his race strategy. “This morning I did my planning with my coach and we had two options. Either try to win the Gold Cup depending on the wind conditions or protect the silver. After we saw the weather conditions, we realised it would have been impossible to catch Ed and he made a fantastic start, so I tried to slow down Giles as I thought I was faster upwind though he was clearly faster downwind.
“I made a pretty good job of that and we had a nice fight with each other. I took him to the left and thought it was all over but we had more pressure and better shift and he made a fantastic job of the downwind. He was just flying and I was really worried he would catch up enough boats to take the Silver. But congratulations to Ed and Giles and all the other Finn sailors here because I think we have had a really tough week.
“Now I have promised myself one or two months with no hiking! I think we have hiked enough in the last month. I am now 34 years old and this is my third Olympic campaign and I need to take care of myself. This kind of event is not good for me. There are a lot of juniors here at 1.95 metres and they were pushing us really hard.”

At the prizegiving tonight at the St Francis Yacht Club, under the shadow of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Ed Wright received the Finn Gold Cup, first presented in 1956 at Burnham-on-Crouch in the UK. This famous trophy is full of the names of legends of the class and now one more legend has been added to this list. It is what all Finn sailors aspire to and what all sailors everyone recognise as an outstanding accomplishment.

Top ten. Image copyright Robert Deaves.

Final results (top 10 from 87)
1 GBR 11 Edward Wright 22
2 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 53
3 GBR 41 Giles Scott 56
4 USA 4 Zach Railey 59
5 FRA 115 Thomas le Breton 72
6 SLO 5 Gasper Vincec 94
7 GBR 85 Andrew Mills 107
8 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 107
9 GBR 88 Mark Andrews 110
10 AUS 1 Brendan Casey 112

Finn Gold Cup