Giles Scott (GBR) lifted the Finn Gold Cup for the fourth time today in Gaeta, Italy, after a spectacular medal race sailed close to the shores of the impressive and historic old town. People from the town and local children crowded the shoreline to get a view of the Finn class strongman heroes as they battled hard against the beautiful backdrop of the medieval town. While Scott had done enough to secure the title, and the race for the silver was reasonably secure, the battle for the bronze was very hot. In the end Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) took the silver and Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) took the bronze. The medal race was won by Høgh-Christensen.
The medal race took place downwind of the town with the windward mark just off the shore. A local radio station entertained the crowds and immediately after racing the top three were take ashore for a medal ceremony under the town walls. A great initiative to involve a local school in the day included the three medalists presenting the winners of a painting competition started earlier in the week depicting the sailing at the Finn Gold Cup. It was a fantastic way to involve the local people and take sailing to the community that had hosted the event for the past week.
Giorgio Poggi (ITA) led the medal race from the first mark to half way down the final run when Høgh-Christsensen found a gust and sailed past. Postma stuck close to Ioannis Mitakis (GRE), but nearly lost to Jake Lilley (AUS) on the opposite side. In the end nothing changed, except Mitakis got a flag on the final leg to drop to sixth while Lilley and Poggi moved up one place.
It has been a challenging week in Gaeta, starting off with light and fickle winds and then a big day on Thursday with three races in big breeze that showcased the strong and tall gladiators to the max. Once again, Scott looks dominant, winning with a day to spare to take the Finn Gold Cup again, to go into the Olympics as the reigning world champion.
“Being World Champion is exactly where you want to be going into an Olympic Games. A lot of people will say that puts a target in your back but so be it. I think that having that target is a good thing and it's nice to know that what you are doing is working.”
“We've tried an awful lot of things this year, and maybe too much, but it's nice to know that the decisions we have cut to in this late stage are good ones. I am happy with where we are at. There are a few final tweaks to be made but we are nearing the final stages before getting into the Games.”
“I keep saying it but the Gold Cup is such a special event to all of us as Finn sailors and to be in a position to say that I've won four is a very privileged done to be in. I think there is an awful lot of talent in the Finn fleet at the moment and to be able to come out on top of that is great.”
Winner of the medal race, Høgh-Christensen, said, “I had a pretty decent start but of course my focus was on PJ as I had to keep him behind me. It was a tough job with the big shifts. On the last run I got some breeze and managed to get round Giorgio so I was pretty happy with that.”
“The Gold Cup is one of the most of the most important regattas in the Finn calendar. I really came here to try and do a good job and it came out all right. Of course I'd love to have won my third Gold Cup but Giles sailed a good regatta, and I am really happy with the silver and things are looking good for Rio.”
Does he think Giles is beatable in Rio? “I do think Giles is beatable in Rio. When I decided to come back I looked at the fleet and there is no doubt that Giles is very strong and will be one to beat in Rio, but if I didn't think I could beat him I would have come back.”
Postma was very pleased with himself to win the bronze. “It was an exciting medal race. It was tough because the Greek and the Australian were breathing down my neck and it was close. In these conditions anything can happen. I had a great first beat. And I was second. On the second beat Ioannis went left and and Jake went right, so what to do? But it worked out fine.”
“Actually I came here to get a shot for the gold but half way it didn't come together so we had to change the tune, and then we went for a medal and it worked out so I am proud of that.”
On the final prepeartions for Rio. “Only two and a half months to go and the material is fine, the techniques sorts itself out, some training in Rio and it feels solid. A base to build on.”
Scott also spoke of the medal race. “The race was in a pretty tricky spot as the wind rolls off Gaeta town and gave us some pretty shifty conditions. The top three didn't change so you can't really complain and we are pretty happy with the venue.”
He was enthused by the welcome on shore after the race “It was really nice to get the locals involved in the Finn Gold Cup. The Finn Gold Cup is a really big thing in our sailing world but they don't necessarily reach out to small towns and places that we go, like here in Gaeta so to get the school kids involved and the people in Gaeta to see what is going on is a really important part of where I think our sport should be going.”
With four Finn Gold Cups under his belt he is now has the second highest number of titles, only headed by Ben Ainslie (GBR) who has six. When will be his next Gold Cup? “I don't think I am able to answer that. I wouldn't be able to say I'd be able to do another one. I hope I do, but I don't know, it depends what the next few years bring. I am certainly not going to can Finn sailing completely after the Games but I'll certainly take a step away from it.”
The final race, before the medal race, went to one of Thursday's star performers Oli Tweddell (AUS) who moved up to 11th overall. The junior prize went to the stand out performer of the week Phillip Kasueske (GER). Second junior was the current Junior World Champion Ondra Teply (CZE) while third was Arkadiy Kistanov (RUS).
The last word went to PJ Postma, “Last but not least thank you Gaeta, it was wonderful.”
Results after medal race (medal race in brackets)
1 GBR41 Giles Scott 23 (3)
2 DEN2 Jonas Hogh-Christensen 40 (1)
3 NED842 Pieter-Jan Postma 62 (5)
4 AUS41 Jake Lilley 67 (4)
5 ITA117 Giorgio Poggi 68 (2)
6 GRE77 Ioannis Mitakis 75 (10)
7 FRA17 Fabian Pic 82 (8)
8 CAN18 Tom Ramshaw 85 (6)
9 GBR11 Ed Wright 88 (7)
10 GER259 Phillip Kasueske 93 (9)
Full results here.