It was another long day with no reward on Biscayne Bay on day 5 of the Sailing World Cup Miami. The Finns were scheduled to have three races from 10.00, but after waiting afloat in vain for nearly seven hours, the plug was finally pulled and Thursday's overall results decided who sails the medal race on Saturday.
The week has been very heavy in line infringement with a a total of 19 letter scores for premature starters. More surprisingly three boats have had their places reinstated after requests for redress were posted, including two from Thursday. As fate would have it one of these was Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) who moved up over 10 places and therefore ended the day in fifth place. Unfortunately that knocked Lauri Väinsalu (EST) out of the top ten. As there was no racing on Friday, Väinsalu had no chance to regain a medal race place.
With the scores from Thursday holding, Oliver Tweddell (AUS) takes a nine point lead into the medal race from Giles Scott (GBR) and 11 points from Jorge Zarif (BRA). So as long as he is within four boats of these two his first World Cup win is safe. But that's not an easy task in this very competitive fleet.
However Tweddell is assured a medal of some colour while to secure theirs, Scott and Zarif will have to fend off fourth placed Michele Paoletti (ITA) and fifth placed Kljakovic Gaspic, who though 14 points outside the medals, can never be written off.
Tweddell described the day. "It was a very long day on the water. We must have sat around for about 7 hours in total waiting for wind to fill in. I would say the most amount of wind was 3 knots towards the end of the day when the haze broke up, I can see why we were held for so long. It was just unfortunate for the Race Committee that more breeze didn't eventuate. We were never really close to getting a race off as the conditions were pretty poor all day."
On the medal race, "I'm guaranteed a medal tomorrow, and I have a 9pt and 11pt lead over Giles and Jorge, so the plan is to just sail clean and keep an eye on them throughout the race."
Kljakovic Gaspic explained about the redress in race 4. "Yesterday's first race was a general recall and I was over like 85 per cent of the fleet. On the next start I was making sure not to be over because the of the strong current pushing us over. So I was well behind the line and just 10 sec before the gun had one boat squeezing into a gap to leeward. Thus I was blocked and started from the second row. Later when coming home I checked results and found the OCS which was a surprise and immediately went to appeal request for redress. It has turned out that RC got a wrong list from the first start that was general recalled and by their mistake I got OCS."
And tomorrow? "I just want to get into a nice medal race and have a good race, that's all."
Scott spoke on his week, "The week has gone OK and I feel I've been sailing fast. I just didn't approach yesterdays three races correctly, which has been costly with so few races having been sailed. I had some very poor windward mark roundings, and I had a bit on turning them around into counters in all honesty."
And on the medal race? "We'll just have to see what tomorrow brings wind wise and I'll make a call on how to approach it. For sure I'll be doing all I can to try for the win, but Oli sailed well yesterday and has a bit of a margin on me."
The medal race line-up looks like this
Oliver Tweddell (AUS) – Has been improving year on year since first making his mark at the 2010 Silver Cup with the bronze medal. He had made a major improvement over the last year and won a race at last year's Finn Gold Cup, but Miami this year has been his best performance to date. Whatever happens in the medal race, Tweddell is a name to watch for in the future.
Giles Scott (GBR) – The 2011 world and European champion took most of 2013 off to sail in the America's Cup. He came back late last year to win the final EUROSAF event at La Rochelle and many thought it was back to business as usual, but this week has shown that he is not infallible, often struggling in the light winds. He has won several high pressure medal races in the last few years though, so has an even chance of stealing a last minute victory.
Jorge João Zarif (BRA) – The surprise winner of last year's Finn Gold Cup has had a steady week in Miami and showed some of the form that made him one of the youngest Finn world champions ever. He is lacking in big competition practice, and has little experience of medal races, but has a 10 point margin to fourth place, so may just play it safe.
Michele Paoletti (ITA) – Just missed out on the 2012 Italian Olympic place and after a year off came back in 2013 to place sixth in the light wind Finn Gold Cup in Tallinn, and initially led the medal race there. He has been one of the few consistent sailors here this week and clearly likes the lighter winds.
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) – European Champion in 2009 and 2010 and has won several Sailing World Cup gold medals over the years. Easily the most experienced sailor I the medal race, he had a slow year in 2013, but is back and aiming to put himself back at the front.
Alexey Selivanov (RUS) – Won the opening race this week and apart from a slip up on Thursday has been sailing well. One of a growing number of young Russian Finn sailors starting to make their mark internationally. He can mathematically win a medal here, but has to win with Zarif last to stand a chance.
Gregory Douglas (CAN) – Placed 15th in the 2012 Olympics and making steady progress, having juggled sailing with studies. Big, strong sailor who can handle light winds as well as big breeze. On the same points as Selivanov, so a medal is unlikely.
Björn Allansson (SWE) – Won the Sailing World Cup Melbourne at the end of last year and just made the medal race on Thursday, helped by wining the fifth race. Generally goes better in a breeze, but improving all the time and very focussed.
Luke Lawrence (USA) – Miami marks his return to proper Finn sailing, with hopes of making the US team and making a viable challenge. If this week is anything to go by there is a lot of potential still to come. First appeared in the Finn in 2010, where he went on to win the Silver Cup, the Junior World Championship, in San Francisco.
Enrico Voltolini (ITA) – First World Cup medal race and largely unproven in the Finn, though has has great success in the Star class, including European Championship winning crew in 2011. Has had a reasonable consistent week here.
The medal race is scheduled for 12.00 on Saturday, with the forecast predicting south-easterly light to moderate winds. 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 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 33
6 RUS 1 Alexey Selivanov 36
7 CAN 5 Gregory Douglas 36
8 SWE 6 Björn Allansson 39
9 USA 40 Luke Lawrence 41
10 ITA 66 Enrico Voltolini 51
Live tracking: http://www.sailing.org/worldcup/multimedia/tracking.php
More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ussailing/sets/72157640189186216/