Pieter Jan Postma (NED) dominated the Finn class on the second day of the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011 with two great race wins in very challenging conditions. However Ben Ainslie (GBR) continues to lead the regatta after four races, with Jonathan Lobert (FRA) on equal points in second. After his double win Postma climbs to third overall, three points off the leaders.
It was a big day all round with big winds and big seas. The day started with strong winds that stayed in for the duration, peaking at around 25 knots during the second race. However the threatened thunderstorms failed to appear.
Race three eventually started with the black flag up following a general recall in 18-20 knots of southerly wind. Most boats started near the committee boat and headed up the right hand side of the course to make the best of the current. Dan Slater (NZL) led round the top mark from Pieter Jan Postma (NED), Rafa Trujillo (ESP) and Ben Ainslie (GBR). By the first leeward gate, Postma had worked his way in front and then extended on each remaining leg for a big win. Trujillo held on for second with Lobert climbing to third. Ainslie lost out downwind going too low on the first run to finish sixth, giving the regatta lead, ever so briefly to Lobert.
The wind had increased slightly for race four but the seas had got a lot rougher with big waves now coming down the race course. Again most favoured the right side, though the left side was also good as the current slackened. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) led round the top mark from Slater, Brendan Casey (AUS) and Postma. There followed a spray filled fast reach to the wing mark before a breakneck downwind leg, which took a few casualties, including Ainslie.
Despite suffering from illness, Slater maintained his lead to the final windward mark, but the offwind speed of Postma took charge again, sliding through to lead into the finish for his second bullet of the day. Slater crossed in second with Kljakovic Gaspic in third.
A clearly below par Slater said, “I've been suffering the last few days. Not sure what it is but I have no energy. But today I got the hang of what was going on out there, so I sailed tactically well anyway. The breeze was shifting about a bit so you had to sail the averages, otherwise you were just tacking too much. I just hung in upwind and tried to survive the downwind, but Postma managed to stay high and in the pressure and he was just gone in the first race.”
Postma, “We had a different course from yesterday, with less current, but there was less in near the shore , so you had to go a little bit to the right upwind and the other side on the downwind. In the second race you could play the shifts a bit more. Both times I started at the boat and went to the right and it played out well. I was fast downwind, but it was tricky actually because the waves were coming from the side, so it was tricky to be faster and keep the speed up. If you are just a bit faster than the others all the time it makes a big difference.
“I am very happy to have my speed back again, I am a year back in the boat after a a break and so it's nice that everything is falling in place more and more, but this is only one day, anything can happen in the rest of the week.”
Speaking about his funding issues, Postma said, “I don't get any financial support from my federation at the moment, so I hope this shows again that I am a medal contender for the Games next year. I don't have any money for new gear but I hope if I can get a good result here that I can also attract some more sponsors and be able to train all the time and that would be great. I am really happy with the guys who sponsor me now and am really proud to get their help, but there is still a piece missing and I hope I don't have to make any more hard choices on my financial programme.”
After a capsize in the first race of the day resulting in a 26th, Zach Railey (USA) was facing a second bad result in a row in race four. “We had a plan for the second race. We wanted to be on the left hand side. I won the pin end, leading the fleet out to the left hand side, but there was a big right hand shift and I rounded the top mark with only two or three boats behind me. The wind is very localised on the course so we able to make gains on the fleet.” Both Railey and Ainslie, recovered well to cross in eighth and fifth respectively. “It was an exceptional comeback. We were both happy when we crossed the finish line.”
Ainslie commented, “I had a bit of a rough day today. There were a few errors and it wasn't great to capsize but sometimes that happens and the results weren't too bad. You have to be able to cope with all conditions, but it's a good challenge and good fun.”
The Finn fleet has two more races scheduled for Monday before the first of two lay days on the Tuesday. Monday's forecast is for more strong winds, so the reserve day on Tuesday will be a welcome break for most.
The Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011 is the test event for the sailing events of the London 2012 Olympic Games, as part of the London Prepares series. The Finns are scheduled to have 10 races from Saturday 6 August to Thursday 11 August, with reserve days on Tuesday and Friday. The medal race for the top 10 is scheduled to take place on Saturday 13 August There are five course areas (three offshore, one in Portland Harbour and one under the Nothe) and the fleet will race on all the courses over the week.
Results after four races
2 FRA Jonathan Lobert 14
3 NED Pieter Jan Postma 17
4 CRO Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 19
5 EST Deniss Karpak 30
6 NZL Dan Slater 36
7 ESP Rafa Trujillo 36
8 FIN Tapio Nirkko 38
9 SLO Gasper Vincec 43
10 USA Zach Railey 48
Event website: http://www.sailing.org/london2012/2011-test-event.php
Full Results: http://www.sailing.org/uploads/WPIR2011/Finn_Results.pdf
Finn class on Facebook with photo galleries: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Finn-Class/110408332633
Finn class on-the-water with Twitter: http://twitter.com/Finn_Class
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