Day two of Skandia Sail for Gold opened on a much more positive note than day one with winds up to 20 knots and two tough but thrilling races for the Finn fleet. Dan Slater (NZL) won the opening race before Ben Ainslie (GBR) struck back to win the second and take the overnight lead from Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) in second and Slater in third.
The weather had changed overnight bringing cloud, lots of breeze and a chilly start to the day with the sun trying to break through. The start was delayed slightly as the wind shifted about a bit but race two finally got away at 11.30
Monday’s race winner Dan Slater (NZL) got off to a great start as the fleet spread out up the first beat. Slater led round the top mark from Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN) and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO). And with the wind pushing 15 knots and Oscar flag flying the fleet enjoyed the free pumping downwind legs. Kljakovic Gaspic moved up to second by the first leeward rounding, with Giles Scott (GBR) climbing up to third, andHøgh Christensen in fourth. Following a poor start Ben Ainslie (GBR) was also moving through the fleet and finally ended up seventh.
After a series of wind shifts and general recalls, race three got underway at 14.20 in 14 to 17 knots and produced a new race leader. Pieter Jan Postma (NED) lead from Gasper Vincec (SLO) and Ainslie. However it didn’t last long as Ainslie soon came past to lead to the finish, while Vincec held on for third. World Champion Ed Wright (GBR) put a bad result in the morning behind him to finish fourth while regatta leader Slater crossed in 10th to lose the overall lead to Ainslie and Kljakovic Gaspic, both tied on 10 points.
The race committee was still hoping to catch up the one race lost on Monday, but after rumours that another race might be held, the fleet was sent in for the day with winds gusting 25 knots.
Ainslie said, “The first race was a bit strange. On the first beat I thought the right side of the course had the best conditions but I didn’t read it very well and ended up well behind the leaders. I started to catch up from there and finished strong to get seventh place. In the second race the wind came up a bit more which made it difficult to read the best side of the course to take. Luckily I took the best side and at the first mark I was third and I then I slowly pulled through to win the race.”
Slater explained his day, “I had a great start and first beat in the first race and from then on it was a bit of a one way track which was dictated by the current. The breeze built all day and we finished the day with 20 knots but it seemed to take for ever to get the races started and going which is really due to the deep water and current which makes it hard to set a start line that is square.”
Kljakovic Gaspic said, “I am sailing well, having clear starts and keeping the sailing simple. My boat speed is good so I can keep with fast guys and then it comes to some good tactics, which I keep doing well for now. Today, the starts were important and the right hand side was much better, so keeping right was a good way to go. Also choosing the right moment for crossing was important as we had quite big pressure differences. It was pretty close at the front but winning is still winning.”
The forecast for Wednesday is for much more wind. Assuming sailing is possible, is he looking forward to that? “Sure, I came here for training and I want to do as much sailing as possible as I don't often have the chance to sail in such conditions.”
In what is undoubtedly the most competitive fleet so far this year, Ainslie takes a very small margin into day three. If the fleet gets to race in the very strong winds forecast it could be make or break day. It's worth noting that of the current top ten, three have won world championships, three have won European championships, and seven have won major events.
Three races are scheduled for Wednesday. Racing continues until Friday with the medal race for the top 10 on Saturday 11th June.
Results after three races:
2 CRO 524 Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC 10
3 NZL 1 Dan SLATER 12
4 GBR 41 Giles SCOTT 18
5 DEN 2 Jonas HØGH-CHRISTENSEN 20
6 GBR 88 Mark ANDREWS 25
7 GBR 85 Andrew MILLS 26
8 SLO 573 Vasilij ZBOGAR 30
9 GBR 11 Ed WRIGHT 31
10 SLO 5 Gasper VINCEC 35
Event website: www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk
Full results: http://www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk/_1729/Results