Photo credits: Thom Touw (www.thomtouw.com)
Giles Scott (GBR), the 2011 world champion, secured a last minute victory in the Finn class as the Sailing World Cup Miami came to a close on Saturday with the medal race. Trailing by nine points going into the final double scoring medal race, he had a lot to do, but a second, place compared to an eighth place for overnight leader Oliver Tweddell (AUS) was just enough to win the gold here for a second time, after previously winning in 2011. Tweddell had to settle for the silver, while current world champion Jorge Zarif (BRA) repeated his result of last year to take the bronze.
With light winds again dominating the racing, the medal race was all about the left hand corner. The pin end of the start line belonged to Luke Lawrence (USA) and this, plus his control over the fleet to the left hand corner on the first upwind won him the race. The boats that started at the committee boat end were in trouble from the beginning and that included regatta leader Oliver Tweddell (AUS) and third placed Jorge Zarif (BRA).
Lawrence had a useful lead round the top mark from Michele Paoletti (ITA), Greg Douglas (CAN) and Giles Scott (GBR). Tweddell and Zarif were struggling near the back over a minute behind the leaders after just a nine minute leg.
Lawrence kept his lead down to the gate but had lost ground on both Paoletti and Douglas. Further back Tweddell and Zarif had both made gains on Scott and now had just one boat between them. For a moment, the gold looked like it was heading to Australia, but it was not to be.
On the final upwind, Lawrence again favoured the left but now protected his lead with an earlier tack. Scott, however, sailed slightly further left, and make a substantial gain. While Lawrence had maintained his lead, Douglas had moved up to second but Scott was now right behind him in third. Meanwhile Tweddell had tried the middle, was back in eighth and in trouble again.
Tweddell still had it all to do on the final downwind. Scott tried the left while Lawrence was furthest to the right. Douglas was in the middle. Tweddell needed to pass just one more boat to get the gold. He almost succeeded in what must have been a nerve wracking last leg, but Scott had other plans, and passed Douglas just before the finish line to take second and snatch the gold out of Tweddell's grasp. Zarif crossed in sixth to take the bronze.
So Scott wins another event while Tweddell will go home with yet another World Cup silver medal. Zarif must be content with third in such a high profile fleet with the least competitions under his belt in the last year. Race winner Luke Lawrence cemented his comeback to the class with two races wins a world class fleet and will go home a happy man.
Tweddell said afterwards, "The medal race was extremely tough. We had about 3-4 knots and a lot of chop, so it was extremely difficult. There was a bit more pressure on the left and I really struggled with my upwind speed. Even though I'm extremely disappointed with losing the Gold, I'm still stoked with how I sailed all week. It's been a massive learning experience and has highlighted some key points for me to work on. I am now looking forward to training hard in the lead up to Palma.
It is a shame that the conditions weren't better, especially as the Finn class attracted a quality fleet of 37 boats from 10 nations. The light winds caused two days to be lost but the sailors were still upbeat about their decision to come to Miami.
Scott said, "I went left as there was more pressure that way. Then I managed to slow Oli down a bit when he was approaching the final windward mark, with him on port and me on starboard, which I think helped me a lot given how close he was to getting inside the top 7."
"I am generally happy with where I'm at at the moment. It's all about the big events later in the season, and it's great to come here and do some good racing, even if the weather has been a little against us. I'll certainly take a few lessons away from this regatta forward into the rest of the season."
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) ended the week in seventh place, but is looking forward to the season with a renewed energy. "It's been a bit odd sailing with an older boat and mast I haven't used in past. The equipment has had some faults but the guys from the US Finn association have been really helpful and together with them I managed to fix all the issues. Other than that I need some time to get back into racing mode and for sure I am not at top of the game right now but the season is just starting and I will be ready when the time comes."
He recently joined the Team Fantastica and is very enthusiastic about that. "The relationship is amazing and I have been really lucky to be a part of this great team. Special thanks to Mr Cirillo who is helping us all. For me it came quite surprisingly from one training camp we had in Split last November. We started a cooperation that was related to the development of OneSails and then it turned out to be great opportunity for me. I really hope to get all I've been missing in the past and to have some great racing."
Many of the Finn sailors here are now heading over to Fort Lauderdale for the traditional Finn Midwinters Championship, before travelling back to Europe for the start of the European circuit at the next Sailing World Cup event in Palma.
Results after medal race (medal race result in brackets)
1 GBR 41 Giles Scott 21 (2)
2 AUS 261 Oliver Tweddell 24 (8)
3 BRA 109 Jorge João Zarif 31 (6)
4 ITA 146 Michele Paoletti 37 (4)
5 CAN 5 Gregory Douglas 42 (3)
6 USA 40 Luke Lawrence 43 (1)
7 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 43 (5)
8 SWE 6 Björn Allansson 53 (7)
9 RUS 1 Alexey Selivanov 56 (10)
10 ITA 66 Enrico Voltolini 69 (9)
Live tracking: http://www.sailing.org/worldcup/multimedia/tracking.php
More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ussailing/sets/72157640189186216/