Biscayne Bay finally delivered on time on day 4 of the Sailing World Cup Miami, with the Finn fleet sailing three very different races to try and catch up with the schedule. Oliver Tweddell (AUS) has retaken the lead he held on Monday after an outstanding display in tough conditions. Giles Scott (GBR) drops to second while race 6 winner, and current World Champion, Jorge Zarif (BRA) climbs to third.
After Wednesday was a complete washout with no races sailed, the fleet were eager to get going. Oliver Tweddell (AUS) described the day before, "Yesterday was certainly an interesting day, it had a stormy feel to it and not much wind. We sat on the water for a few hours in torrential rain waiting for breeze which didn't end up coming."
Thursday looked more promising with moderate breeze forecast later in the day. However racing started on time for the first time this week, and despite a short postponement between races 4 and 5 to wait for the breeze to fill from a new direction, the fleet sailed three races in 6-9 knots and is now just one race behind schedule.
Tweddell returned to the front in race 4, favouring the left after starting just down from the boat and leading round the top mark from Michele Paoletti (ITA) and Bruno Prada (BRA). On the run he edged out a small lead while Lauri Väinsalu (EST) found a way through from fifth to second by the gate. While Tweddell, Väinsalu and Paoletti rounded the right hand gate, Jorge Zarif (BRA) rounded the opposite gate mark and headed right. Tweddell and Väinsalu tried the left, but when the Brazilian tacked he had made clear gains and rounded the top mark just behind Tweddell and Väinsalu.
Tweddell maintained his lead on the final downwind to cross the finish line clear ahead of Väinsalu, Zarif, and Greg Douglas (CAN). However Väinsalu was OCS, along along with five other boats, so Zarif took second and Douglas third. Regatta leader Giles Scott (GBR) gained a few places on the final downwind, and benefited from the OCS ahead of him to take fifth, but Tweddell had retaken the overall lead.
The same faces were up the front again in race 5, along with some old ones. Sailing World Cup Melbourne winner, Björn Allansson (SWE) finally found the front to record his first win of the series. Allansson rounded first from Tweddell, Douglas and Zarif.
Allansson described the race, "In the second start the fleet was spread out over the line but with the pin clearly favoured. By winning the start at the pin end I put myself in a good position and was two minutes after the start able to tack and cross the fleet. I rounded the top mark first and then extended on the downwind."
"On the second beat it was more or less a fight between the four of us. Jorge went out hard on the right which turned out to be bad. Oli, Greg and I went a bit more to the left. Greg went a bit further to the right from me and managed to catch a bit of extra wind and at the top mark he just managed to take a narrow lead."
"After the mark Greg headed downwind for a few seconds which was enough for me to retake the first position on the reach to the outer loop. I managed to keep the lead on the last downwind where the wind started to shift to left as some rain came in over the racecourse."
Again there were many premature starters, with seven boats pulled out under the black flag, including second across the finish line, Greg Douglas, who had moved up from sixth round the top mark to sail a great race for no result. Fourth across the line was the 1974 Finn Gold Cup winner, Henry Sprague (USA), ahead of 2011 winner Scott, who picked up a second fifth place for the day and was starting to let Tweddell run away with the points lead.
Into race 6 and this time it was Paoletti who rounded ahead with a nice lead from Tweddell and Zarif. Paoletti still held a narrow lead from Zarif at the gate while Jake Lilley (AUS) had moved into third. Zarif had closed on Paoletti by the final top mark and then passed him on the final downwind to take the race win. Tweddell also caught Paoletti and they crossed the line less than a second ahead.
Tweddell, who now moves into a nine point lead, described his day, "Today we had an earlier start with a much better breeze forecast, it was also more around into the North, so more off the land making it a lot shifter. The racing was dominated by rain clouds coming through and changing the breeze. It was key to be in the pressure while on the lifted tack."
"In the second race the breeze was in a right hand phase off the line and then the breeze went about 20 degrees to the left, so everyone at the pin end came out well. Then there were a lot of rain clouds swinging the breeze all over the place."
"I'm happy with my performances so far, but I'm not taking anything for granted. This is an extremely tough fleet in some very difficult conditions, so I will just stick to my processes and see what happens."
The second best scoreline of the day went to current world champion, Jorge Zarif. "It was a very hard day in Miami. It was important to cross at the right time. I tried to do that and it worked well. My speed is medium. Playing the shifts was more important than boat speed. I hope tomorow will be like this."
Last year's winner, and the ISAF ranked world No. 1, Caleb Paine (USA) has been struggling so far, and didn't get off to the best start today with an OCS in race 4, but ended the day with an 11th to be within striking distance of the medal race with three races still to sail.
Another sailor who didn't get off to the best start is the Melbourne winner, Allansson, but a good scorecard today, including that race 5 win has lifted him to seventh overall and close enough to the top three to make a second podium appearance a distinct possibility.
The Swede fended off Tweddell to win in Melbourne and was hoping for further success in Miami, but on Biscayne Bay, Tweddell seems to have the advantage over the whole fleet in both speed and tactics.
He said, "Today we finally had a bit of hiking, but the wind never picked up enough for the O flag to come up [for free pumping]."
"Winning the second race felt great. I've been fighting all week with putting together a solid race, and I feel that I'm learning and improving the whole time, so it was just great to get a bullet today."
"I will take one race at a time tomorrow, and hopefully manage to qualify for the medal race and maybe even have a chance on the podium."
The final three races of the opening series are scheduled for Friday before the medal race for the top 10 will be sailed on Saturday. Racing can be followed online with 2D and 3D tracking options through the event website.
Results after six races
1 AUS 261 Oliver Tweddell 8
2 GBR 41 Giles Scott 17
3 BRA 109 Jorge João Zarif 19
4 ITA 146 Michele Paoletti 29
5 RUS 1 Alexey Selivanov 35
6 CAN 5 Gregory Douglas 36
7 SWE 6 Björn Allansson 38
8 USA 40 Luke Lawrence 39
9 ITA 66 Enrico Voltolini 49
10 EST 11 Lauri Väinsalu 52
Live tracking: http://www.sailing.org/worldcup/multimedia/tracking.php
More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ussailing/sets/72157640189186216/