Sunny Palma laid on some of its best conditions for the third day of the 47th Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR as two more tightly fought races left Josh Junior (NZL) with a reduced lead in the Finn fleet. Giles Scott (GBR) is now just four points behind, with Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) remaining in third. Race wins went to Junior and Jake Lilley (AUS).
But it all started with a lengthy delay as a weak south-westerly eventually gave way to a moderate southerly with winds from 10-16 knots and great Finn sailing conditions.
Tapio Nirkko (FIN) was the early front runner in race 5, leading round the top but Junior took the lead on the downwind and never relinquished it, sailing away for a comfortable win. Scott rounded in the top five and moved up to second on the second upwind. Nirkko held on to third.
Jonathan Lobert (FRA) led round the top in the second race but on the second upwind Lilley held on further right and got through to take a comfortable lead around the second top mark. Scott also passed Lobert downwind to finish the day with two second places.
Scott said, “It was really good sailing and worth the wait. I was a little bit worried they were going to try and start us in that fickle south-wester. For two or three hours you could see the yachts sailing round in a good breeze 2 miles away in 10 knots. So it ended up being good.”
“It went a lot better today. Yesterday was a bit frustrating really. I got it all wrong, a concertina of errors, so it's great to get two solid results today and keep myself in there. A long hard day, lots of waiting, and when the wind did come in, it came in strong.”
Lilley is the only person to win two races so far this week. Is he surprised at that? “A little bit. It's been a tough few weeks, so coming here I am super motivated. I am training every day after racing, so staying fit and ticking all the boxes, trying to race well. Everything we have been working on with the new coach and equipment is obviously proving itself to be pretty good so I just have to get off the start line and keep racing well.”
“It was a really long day. We waited out there for ages. It seemed like a barrier in line with the coastline and the breeze just wasn't filling in. We waited for the bubble to burst and had a really nice day in the end. Really good conditions for racing.”
In the first race, “I got a little bit flushed out of the start by Giles rolling me. The objective was just to be top five at the top mark in both races and I just managed to do that, and then that chip away downwind. The first race was a bit of a soldier's course downwind, and I finished fourth. In the second I got Giles back off the start and managed to pinch him off and got fifth at the top and had a really good downwind. Jonathan slipped up at the mark and I skated through to leeward.”
“It had been really strong off the point all day but it was evident that it was about to switch, so I hitched right of Jonathan and Giles and attacked from there, positioning well to lead round the top and save some energy down the final run.” He led by around 80 metres at the final top mark for a comfortable victory. “When you get half way down the run and you are positioned well it's hard to be passed.”
Junior explained his day. “It ended up being a big left hand track so everyone came off the start line in a boat speed race. I just hung and kept with the top guys and second at he top and managed to get in the lead and won ahead of giles, which was really pleasing. The next race wasn't quite so easy. I think I ran out of energy and struggled a little bit more.”
“Definitely a power sailing day with the strong, fit guys getting out in front.”
There is still no breathing space for the nations competing here for the final European continental spot in Rio. Russia are now back on top, but only just. Egor Terpigorev (RUS) is 20th, with Alican Kaynar (TUR) in 21st, three points back and Frederico Melo in 22nd, another 11 points back. But with Spain in 24th and Czech Republic is 25th, it is a long way from over. Allan Julie (SEY) maintains his lead in the African selection over Karim Esseghir (TUN).
Racing in Palma continues to Saturday. The Finn fleet is scheduled to continue racing at 13.30 on Thursday.
Results after six races
1 NZL 24 Josh Junior 15
2 GBR 41 Giles Scott 19
3 NED 842 Pieter-Jan Postma 24
4 FIN 218 Tapio Nirkko 28
5 AUS 41 Jake Lilley 29
6 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 42
7 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 43
8 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 47
9 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 49
10 AUS 261 Oliver Tweddell 51