Split's city lights were coming on as sailors returned home after day four at the Finn European Championships, but it didn't matter, as two late races meant that it is now a valid championship, something that earlier in the day looked highly unlikely. Race three winner Daniel Birgmark (SWE) takes the overall lead from Jonathan Lobert (FRA) and defending champion Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO). The second race of the day was was won by Rafa Trujillo (ESP).
Held on shore again due to light winds and thunderstorms earlier in the day until 12.30the fleet set out to wait under a hot sun and in no wind for more than four hours. The locals predicted the 'Jugo' wind would arrive at around 17.00 and at 16.55 the breeze started to build and the 97 Finns were rewarded with two great races in 10-14 knots of breeze.
The wind was up to 10 knots by the start of race three, which was set to the south of Split close by the dramatic shoreline. The left hand side was always going to pay. Marc Allain des Beauvais (FRA) went furthest to the left, picked up a nice angle to the mark and rounded the top mark clear ahead of Birgmark, Marin Misura (CRO), Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) and Klakovic Gaspic.
The wind started to increase as Birgmark led the fleet back to the left on the second upwind leg. Kljakovic Gaspic moved into second with Zbogar in third. The Oscar flag for free pumping was raised at the second windward mark with the fleet finally enjoying fantastic conditions down to the finish.
Birgmark battled hard with Kljakovic Gaspic, but crossed the line first with Kljakovic Gaspic in second and Misura climbing to third.
Birgmark said, “The current was with the wind today and not everyone was up on the line. I had a good transit and I had a really good start, I used the left side and that paid off really well. There were a couple of other guys who went further, such as FRA 99 [Allain des Beauvais] but that really paid off, and he got a really good lift to the mark.”
“I liked the downwinds a lot with the free pumping. That was definitely a lot of fun. It felt really good to win the race, and I had a big battle with Bambi as he's always very fast on the downwind so I'm happy that I could beat him”
The race office was clearly eager to complete the next race before sunset while there was wind and started race four almost immediately, with Oscar flying for free pumping downwind. Again the fleet got away first time and again most favoured the left hand side closer to the shore. However this time it didn't pay to go that far with Trujillo emerging ahead just beneath the pack on the left to round first from Tomas Vika (CZE), Misura and Mate Arapov (CRO).
By the leeward gate Lobert had moved up to second with Birgmark in third. These positions remained the same throughout the second upwind, while Ed Wright (GBR) was moving through the fleet. He rounded the top mark in fourth place and then made his move downwind to finally place second behind Trujillo, who won by 25 seconds. Romeo flag was removed at the second windward mark to limit pumping as the wind started to drop away Birgmark finished third and Lobert fourth.
Trujillo said, “I've rounded the first mark three times in fours races and finally I have won one. In the first race I started at the committee boat as I wanted to be on the right, but it didn't pay and I finished 17th, so I was really motivated in the second to try and come back and get a good result. So I gave it 100 per cent and was lucky that I was on the right side and took the lead and extended from there.”
“I had a feeling the wind was dying but I had more pressure to come through the fleet. Then towards the end of the race I was thinking with the luck that I have had this week they would cancel the race because the sun was going down.” But they didn't and Trujillo took his first win of the week.
The sun had already set as the fleet headed back to Split harbour with the lights around the harbour twinkling in welcome after nearly eight hours on the water.
The defending champion is Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic. With a 2-6 today he moved up to third overall. He said, “It was a long wait and you have to stay fresh, you have to keep your mind fresh all the time. I was hoping for the wind, but it wasn't easy to wait for hours in sun and light winds. In the end I did a good job.”
“The first race was really good for me, but in the second I wasn't looking so good after the first beat. I was a little bit on the right and I lost a lot of places, so I had a lot of work to do on the downwind, but I performed well, especially on the first downwind. Free pumping was on and we were pumping hard, which worked out really well and after this it became easier for me as I had more pressure on the right and also on the second downwind.” He finally moved up to sixth by the finish.
All sailors were complimentary about the race team, waiting patiently to get the races in. Trujillo said, “I want to congratulate the race committee, they were great conditions and they did a good job today. We now have four good races so are on the way to saving the championship.”
Kljakovic Gaspic said “I think they made a really great effort to get us sailing. The races were really fair, in really nice conditions and I can just say thanks to them because they really did a great job and it paid off.”
After four races, Birgmark has a four point margin from Lobert and seven point from Kljakovic Gaspic. The final qualification races will take place on Saturday and one more is required to have the medal race on Sunday.
Top 10 after two races
1 SWE 11 Daniel Birgmark 22
2 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 26
3 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 29
4 GBR 41 Giles Scott 31
5 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 34
6 GBR 11 Edward Wright 34
7 FRA 115 Thomas Le Breton 36
8 CRO 25 Marin Misura 37
9 CRO 2 Mate Arapov 44
10 NOR 1 Peer Moberg 44