It has been a week of extremes at the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Finn Gold Cup in Falmouth, UK and the final day was no different. Though a medal race was attempted, it was soon abandoned and an hour later racing was completely abandoned for the day as the wind disappeared. This left Ben Ainslie (GBR) as Finn World Champion for the sixth time. Ed Wright (GBR) took the silver while Jonas Hogh-Christesen (DEN) took the bronze.
The forecast for the day was never very encouraging but racing did look possible. After a short postponement, the medal race was started in 6-8 knots. However within five minutes it became clear that things were going wrong as the wind switched off on the left, leading to the race officer Peter Reggio pulling the plug. He waited another hour or so, but then sent the fleet in as the wind had all but gone and showed no sign of putting in a late appearance.
As far as Olympic selection goes Poland, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Turkey and China join he 18 nations that qualified in Perth and Great Britain as host. Many also have to satisfy national requirements so the final line up is not definite.
Ben Ainslie (GBR) was presented with the Finn Gold Cup for a record sixth time. He previously won the Finn crown in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008. “Winning this year is the most special [of all six titles] for me personally because it's where I grew up and learnt to sail and I have so much history here. And with the Olympics just around the corner it's a great time to go out and win a world championship.”
Is it his last Finn Gold Cup? “That's a good question. There's a chance it could be. I have had 10 fantastic years in the Finn and I'm not sure how much longer I can keep going at this level, but I haven't made any decisions yet on any future Finn racing. I will see how things go this summer and what else happens and make a decision then. But I would miss the Finn if I gave it up. It's a fantastic boat. It's a great fleet, great sailors, and great camaraderie. And I think it's a real true test of sailing, ability and fitness.”
Silver medalist Ed Wright (GBR) said, “It was a great week out there. I really had a lot of fun. The sailing was exceptional yesterday it was amazing; an epic day. And I really really enjoyed it. I am happy to come away with the silver but maybe a tad disappointed I didn't win but Ben has had a great week and is sailing really consistently – first, first, first, first, first … that's hard to beat really, just great great sailing from him.”
Bronze medalist Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) said, “ I think I had a decent, good week. I sailed parts of pretty much all the races quite well but I did make a lot of mistakes. I averaged about eighth so I am quite surprised to end up with the bronze. But my consistency gave me the extra to be ahead of the other guys. Ben and I were actually quite close together in most of the races but then I would make a mistake and he would go and win the race. That's pretty much how it happened all week. He sailed an almost flawless regatta; it's impressive.”
Fourth placed Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) said, “For me it was a pretty tough week and difficult from day one. I had a messy start and I was hoping to play it a bit better later but every day I had one good and one bad result so it wasn't the best week for me. But in the end a lot of guys made mistakes and I ended up fourth which is not too bad but you can see that Ben is sailing very consistently and he is keeping the game simple, fast and doesn't make any mistakes, which is normal when you have such good speed, so I would be surprised if anything else happened regarding his performance. Truly an impeccable week from him and a good job from him, but hopefully for us he is going to make some mistakes in the future.”
Fifth overall Tapio Nirkko (FIN) said, “It was a tricky week, but beautiful sailing condition. Yesterday was a really extreme day. With the waves, it was so much fun. During the downwind Zach and I were laughing and screaming. So I think everybody enjoyed it very much and it was great sailing. I managed to keep quite consistent tactics and was sailing quite consistently this week, which was one of my goals for this event and managed to avoid all the disaster races which is my weak point. I could finally sail on my level all regatta and I am really happy with my results here. Of course the medal was still available today, but maybe that's something for the Games. Ben was amazing. A good week for him, but perhaps a little bit unbelievable how he managed to put that kinds of series together in those conditions. But I still think he can be beaten at the end of July so we'll see what happens.”
Sixth placed Piotr Kula (POL) both qualified his country and himself for the Olympics this week. “This was the perfect week for me, but it was a really hard week. Last year I had an issue with my knee. That's why I didn't go to Perth, and actually it hurt badly this week so I was glad there was no racing on Wednesday. But the racing was tough, all the guys did their best, it's Olympic year and there are no excuses. I am happy because Rafal, my colleague from the team, was a hard and tough opponent. I am very happy to be going to the Olympics. I will do my best, but everyone will be fighting hard though. We are all friends on shore but on the water we fight hard. I am really excited. All my family believed I could do it, and they are also very happy.”
Seventh placed Mark Andrews (GBR) said, “This week was pretty good for me good to be in the top ten. I haven’t been in the top ten since 2010 so it's great to get into the medal race. I didn't particularly start the week very well, but made a really good comeback as the week went on. It's good to get seventh, but a shame not to race today. Ben sailed a brilliant week, though he wasn't the fastest out there he was definitely the cleverest. It's good for him on the build up to the games and a good confidence builder going into it.”
Eighth placed Andrew Mills (GBR) said, “The week went well for me at the start but I had a bit of shocker yesterday with some settings and things and I had no speed all day, which was the complete opposite to the first few days. I struggled as a result of that. I am a bit disappointed with the final result but it was a good call from Luigi not to sail today. Ben was going very well though it was annoying on some of the windy days not be set up a bit better and given him a run for his money. But he's sailing very well, fast and confident.”
Ninth placed Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) also met his national criteria for the Olympics this week, “It was a great week racing here in Falmouth. We did nine races but no medal race but it was a great week in a variety of conditions. For me the week was all right. I didn't have the feeling I could have, so I could do better. I qualified myself for the games this week so that is a relief. I had to meet the quota and its strict for us and only the absolute best will do. Ben did an amazing job and is in a different class to the rest of us. He sits in his boat, sails it really fast, looks comfortable, puts a lot of energy into it and makes the right decisions. Ed in second, without too much sailing this year also did a great job and Jonas in third is progressing and it will be exciting for the Olympics.”
Tenth placed Zach Railey (USA) said, “My performance for the week was very up and down. I never really put myself in a position to be successful on the race course. I was always digging myself out of holes. I was always deep at the first weather mark and never really got into a rhythm this week. But I trying really hard and always trying to get the best results I could. I just sneaked into the top ten, so it was a little bit of a success this week after the way it started when it didn’t look like I would be anywhere near the top ten. Overall I am disappointed, but our minds are focussed on the Olympic Games in two months and for me that's all that matters for me this year. Ben sailed fantastic. When someone goes out and sails like he did you have to compliment them. He did absolutely fantastic. He's always very hard to beat, we know he will be hard to beat, but you always look forward to the challenge. But this week he was very impressive.”
Final results after nine races (1 discard)
Full results: http://www.falmouthfinnfestival.com/goldcup-results/C1
Photos: Mark Lloyd