The light winds continued on day three in Palma, though promised more early in the day with 8 to 10 knots for the first race. However by the time race six was underway the breeze was down to a scant six knots. It was testing conditions for patience and nerves.
Continuing his good form this week, Zach Railey (USA) took race five from the overnight leader Ben Ainslie (GBR). Another 2008 Olympian, Chris Cook (CAN), who returned to the campaign trail in November last year, crossed in third while the leader after day one, Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN) was fourth.
Railey said, “ It was such a difficult day to predict the wind again. But I was able to extend at the top of the second beat and hold the lead to the finish. In the second race we really felt that the right was going to be the side to play and it went left. I got back the best I could to finish ninth which was much better than where I was at the first weather mark.”
On his week so far, he commented, “I am happy with the way things are going. It’s been a hard few days to predict the breeze and I've been correct sometimes and wrong others but overall we are happy with where I am at right now.”
In race six, Ainslie was at the front again, winning his second race this week from a very consistent Daniel Birgmark (SWE) and Matt Coutts (NZL).
Ainslie said, “It was a very difficult day today. The wind was quite light this morning and changing a lot so it was very hard to read and there were lots of ups and downs in the fleet but for me I had a good day. I managed to pick it just about right to be up with the top guys and I had some good speed so I’m pretty happy with the day.”
On his return to competition after an operation on his back, "The body is holding together very well, but having said that it’s been pretty light winds. But considering where I was two months ago, I couldn’t be happier to be here and to be racing and to be back on the programme, in tune and racing well. That’s a massive step for me."
Ainslie now has a string of five places in the top two to hold a useful 11 point buffer at the top from Birgmark. Both Railey and Høgh Christensen picked up relatively high scores in race six, but still have built a gap of 13 points over the rest of the fleet.
In the sixth overall is race rwo winner Andrew Mills (GBR) who placed 17 and 11 today. He commented on the conditions, "Not really sure how to describe the racing. I never worked out which side was paying down or upwind. It is proving very hard to predict and constantly seems to be a case of damage limitation. The pressure is very localised and hard to work out where it is going to land."
In seventh overall placed 19th in race six after his earlier third, Chris Cook said, “The conditions today were light and variable again, like yesterday, but with the left side of the course paying. Unfortunately, like yesterday we started at 11 again and didn't get a chance to sail in the afternoon sea breeze, which came in as we were sailing home."
On his training, “The training since Perth has been going well. Canada now has seven Finns training and working together, so our future looks very bright. I've been working hard to balance my sailing and home life so there have been some days I would have liked to spend on the water but have had other commitments to take care of. Other than that I feel I'm on the right track with still some work to do on the downwind and fitness.”
Cook coached the young Canadian squad before training himself in the run up to Perth. “I'm still working with our team as best I can while competing against them. My goal coming into this has always been to raise the level of competitiveness of the team as well as learn a few things myself.” What has changed since his last campaign in 2008, “For sure the fitness levels of all the top guys has improved dramatically, but I would expect that after the 2008 Games being in such a light venue. The young guys are also coming on strong with their fitness.”
There are four more opening series race scheduled over the next two days before the medal race for the top 10 on Saturday. Last year Ainslie not only dominated and won the Finn fleet, he also took the overall trophy for the best performance of the week. On his current form, who would bet against him repeating this feat for the second year running.
1 GBR 3 Ben Ainslie 8
3 USA 4 Zach Railey 24
4 DEN 2 Jonas Høgh-Christensen 27
5 NZL 1 Dan Slater 40
6 GBR 85 Andrew Mills 43
8 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 49
9 POL 17 Piotr Kula 62
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