Giles Scott (GBR) has assured himself his first victory of the year after two more races were sailed Friday in the lightest winds of the week at the Sailing World Cup Miami. He now sits 23 points ahead of Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO), who had the best day to rise from fourth to second. Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) is third, just one point further back.
Friday in Miami brought the lightest winds of the week, starting out at 7-8 knots and dropping to 3-4 by the end of the second race. There were some high scores throughout the fleet and some big gaps appearing as some got it more right than others.
Some in the top 10 – Jake Lilley (AUS), Ed Wright (GBR) and Oliver Twedell (AUS) – had their worst scoring day so far but managed to survive into the medal race. One who was not so lucky was Anders Pedersen (NOR) who dropped to 14th. But it was a tough day for everyone.
Race 9 got underway in a northerly 9 knots. Scott Hoffmann (USA) went furthest left before crossing back in front of the whole fleet to round first next to Wright with Jorge Zarif (BRA) close behind.
Scott rounded sixth but was soon on the transom of Zarif who had quickly taken the lead. The Brazilian rounded the gate just ahead of Scott and Kljakovic Gaspic, but Scott was the first to break out to the right and took the lead. Near the top Giorgio Poggi (ITA) got the best of the last shift to tack in front of Scott and lead round the top.
But it wasn't over just yet. Scott moved back into the lead down the run and held on to win by less than three boat lengths while Kljakovic Gaspic almost passed Zarif just before the finish. A fifth for Caleb Paine (USA) boosted his chances of making the medal race, while early race leader, Hoffmann, ended up 19th.
The tenth race was make or break for many sailors, with the lighter winds throwing a new ingredient into the mix. Controlling the fleet on the left Kljakovic Gaspic rounded the top mark next to Mitakis, but with a nice gap on the fleet. Cem Gozen (TUR) and Scott led the chasing pack.
By the gate the two leaders were a good 100 metres from the fleet and Kljakovic Gaspic was all over Mitakis's wind up the second beat to keep firm control of the race. As the wind dropped to 4 knots Scott slipped back a few places and Greg Douglas moved up to third.
On the final run Kljakovic Gaspic extended to win by 200 metres with Mitakis in second. Greg Douglas (CAN) was leading the pack another 300 metres behind, but was caught on the finish line by Poggi, with Hoffmann making amends for the first race of the day with a fifth place finish. Scott made a slight recovery to cross sixth, but it was all academic as his closest rival, Lilley ended up far too deep, being unable to recover from after a poor first rounding.
Klakovic Gaspic said, "Today was not so nice a day for sailing, but it was nice for me."
"I did a great job sailing smart both races and gaining some points on the fleet. In the second race I had a clear start on the pin end and as soon as I got a chance I covered the fleet but just enough to be in front. Until the top mark I continued my own pace, which proved to be fast. After that I made some distance on the downwind and after that was just extending. Simple race once you are that much ahead..."
Mitakis added, "The weather was really tricky today, light, shifty and patchy – too difficult."
On the medal race he said, "Tomorrow the forecast predicts 17 knots, so my plan is just to go sailing and have some fun, as always."
While Scott is assured the win, the real fight is on for silver between Kljakovic Gaspic and Mitakis. If the forecast is correct, the smart money will be on Kljakovic Gaspic, but with Lilley 11 points pack, Mitakis may have his own battle on to retain the bronze. Everyone else is too far adrift to take a medal.
So the medal race line up looks like this:
Giles Scott (GBR): Clearly the best Finn sailor in the world at the present time. World Champion 2011, 2014, European Champion 2011, 2014, World Junior Champion 2008
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO): European Champion in 2009 and 2010, Junior European Champion in 2005 and Junior World Champion in 2005.
Ioannis Mitakis (GRE): Junior European Champion 2009, 2010 and European Champion 2012. This is undoubtedly his best performance since 2012. He was untouchable on Wednesday with two race wins.
Jake Lilley (AUS): One of the rising stars of the fleet having put in an exceptional performance this week in a tough fleet and a range of conditions. Current Junior European Champion.
Vasilij Zbogar (SLO): European Champion in 2013 and winner of the 2014 Sailing World Cup final in Abu Dhabi. Always a tough competitor, he tends to do better when the winds are lighter.
Piotr Kula (POL): The 2012 Olympic has put together a string of top results over the last few years but has yet to win a medal at a major Finn event.
Ed Wright (GBR): 2006 European Champion and 2010 World Champion. One of the most experienced sailors in the fleet, now in his 10th full season in the class.
Oliver Tweddell (AUS): Former world No. 1 and runner up here last year to Scott. Was always fastest in lighter winds, but has bulked up a bit to try and crack the stronger winds.
Caleb Paine (USA): Won here in Miami two years ago, recent World No. 1 and more recently took bronze at the Abu Dhabi World Cup final and seventh in the 2014 World Championship.
Michele Paoletti (ITA): Best result was sixth at the 2013 World Championship. Has had lots of top mark rounding this week but has struggled to stay with the pack downwind.
If you have been counting, these 10 sailors have 15 titles between them. Whatever happens tomorrow, they are in good company.
Results after 10 races
1 GBR 41 Giles Scott 23
2 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 46
3 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 47
4 AUS 41 Jake Lilley 58
5 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 70
6 POL 17 Piotr Kula 81
7 GBR 11 Edward Wright 86
8 AUS 261 Oliver Tweddell 88
9 USA 6 Caleb Paine 92
10 ITA 146 Michele Paoletti 95
Event website: http://miami.ussailing.org
Live tracking at: www.sailing.org/worldcup/multimedia/tracking.php