A first and a second for Jonathan Lobert (FRA) in the Finn fleet on day one at Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth gives him a clear lead over team mate Thomas Le Breton (FRA) in second and European Champion Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) in third, after most of the fleet had a very mixed day.
Following a postponement wait for the wind to build to 10-12 knots the Finn class got in its first two races in great sailing conditions, though a bit grey at times.
After winning races in Miami, Palma and Hyeres, Jonathan Lobert (FRA) continued his good form by taking the opening race in Weymouth, moving into the lead on the first downwind.” Lobert continues to improve almost visibly regatta by regatta and it can’t be long before he takes a major regatta or title. Dan Slater (NZL) who has been having a part-time season in the Finn took second place while another part-timer Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) placed third.
The home sailors had it more their own way in race two, held in slightly more wind, with Andrew Mills (GBR) taking the race win from Lobert. Ed Wright (GBR) crossed in third with Ben Ainslie GBR in fourth.
Lobert said, “Today it was a great day of sailing for me I really enjoyed the downwind. On the first race I had a good start on the pin and I was mostly sailing on the left side of the course. At the end of the first beat I let few boats go more left and they were in front of me at the top mark. I had a wonderful run so I took the lead and managed to keep it until the end of the race.”
“The second race was almost the same but this time I finished second. I am very happy - it's the first time for me that I am leading the fleet overall.”
Many eyes were of course on double Finn Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie (GBR). He has been saying he would be happy with top 10 here and after a 13th in race one came back to place fourth in race two to end the day in fourth overall. Anything other than a win here would be his first defeat in the Finn since the Europeans championships in 2004.
He said, “It was hard work, but I was pleased. They were tough conditions for me – a little bit too much wind because of my lack of weight and lack of time in the boat, but I’m happy with how it went, all things considered. I really enjoyed the racing and got better through the day. It was really shifty and difficult and very hard to read so I was down in the fleet a little bit at both the windward marks but I managed to pull through a bit in both races which was good. It’s heading in the right direction.”
Race two winner Mills commented on Ainslie's return, “I think having him here makes everyone up their game a little bit – it’s nice to have him back. It feels like everyone’s here!”
The 2008 Silver medalist Zach Railey (USA) is in seventh place. He said, “Today went OK and I was happy with the first race, but I made a mistake in the second race on the first upwind. I went too far to the right of fleet but was able to get back for a decent result.”
“I am really glad to be in Weymouth and we have a really good forecast for the week so we will see how it goes.”
Eight more races are scheduled before Friday and the medal race for the top 10 will be sailed on Saturday.
Results after 2 races:
1 FRA 112 Lobert JONATHAN 3
2 FRA 115 Thomas LE BRETON 11
3 CRO 524 Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC 15
4 GBR 3 Ben AINSLIE 17
5 EST 2 Deniss KARPAK 17
6 NED 842 Pieter-jan POSTMA 18
7 USA 4 Zach RAILEY 18
8 NZL 1 Dan SLATER 19
9 GBR 11 Edward WRIGHT 19
10 GBR 41 Giles SCOTT 20
Full results at http://www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk/results/Finn.htm