It was back to school time for the 35-strong U23 Finn World Championship fleet in Aarhus, Denmark today as Nenad Bugarin (CRO) taught them all a perfect lesson in tactics and fleet management in the shifty, puffy conditions of the third day. He won all three races by comfortable margins to take an 11-point lead at the top. Phillip Kasueske (GER) moves back to second after a consistent day while defending champion Ondra Teply (CZE) is now up to third.
After the excesses of Wednesday, the wind had decreased to 9-14 knots for three more races on Thursday, but it was no less challenging and with free pumping on all the downwind legs, it was no less physical. Bugarin showed exceptional speed and the ability to always find the right shift and the right side of the course. He started well in all the races and looked to be in totally charge of the day. He led round the top mark first in the first and third races and was also fast downwind to pull away from the fleet.
Facundo Olezza (ARG) was also impressive up the first upwind, rounding the second race in the lead and building a nice gap by the gate. Bugarin rounded in fourth, but the shifty second beat cost Olezza the lead as he kept too far left, allowing Bugarin to pick the shifts to take the lead.
Kasueske again had trouble on the first upwinds but good downwind speed and clever sailing got him back into contention each time, and back up to second overall. The second best score of the day behind Bugarin, was former champion Arkadiy Kistanov (RUS), which leaves him close to the medal zone. Defending champion Ondra Teply (CZE) kept it simple and consistent as well, for three good races, when a lot of sailors were getting into trouble taking too much risk on the sides and missing the crucial shifts.
Kistanov, who was champion in 2011, is holding up the top six. “It was a pretty nice day with 10-14 knots. Nice racing and, for me, nice conditions. I hope it’s going to be windy the next two days so I can compete for the top three and gain some points.”
“I had problems as I only came here just two days before the regatta so I wasn’t training here and I did not understand what was going on the first day.”
“Today the wind overall went left but probably there was more pressure on the right especially in the first two races. Downwind was pretty tricky because the gusts were coming from one side and if you were just outside of it you immediately lost of a lot of places, so it was pretty easy to gain a lot and also to lose a lot on the downwind. The downwind was key today.”
He said the competition is very tough. “There are about 10 of us very close to everyone and only about 30 seconds between us at the finish. Only Nenad is faster upwind and downwind.”
Kasueske said, “The day was again really tricky, very similar to the last days. There were a lot of shifts, always coming with gusts, so the plan was to play the shifts and Nenad obviously played it the best. I struggled a little bit at the start but on the downwinds I had really good speed with free pumping, and that saved my races, because I gained four or five boats each time. So I managed three top four results, so I am very happy with that.”
“I am really trying to sort out my first beats. Maybe my starts are not that good, so I never have the opportunity to tack straight away and go for the shifts because there are always other boats to windward blocking me, or like in the second race I am getting a bad start. It limits my options.”
For the second day running Bugarin has dominated and now has an eleven-point lead over the very competitive fleet.
“I had a good day. It was a nice breeze but a bit shifty and gusty, so I managed to have good starts and I just wanted to be on positive shifts and control the situation when I was in front. I have good speed upwind and downwind so it was pretty fun. I really enjoyed today.”
“The key decisions were to be on positive shift all the time. I just wanted to sail my own race and when I had the chance to control the fleet I controlled it but otherwise I was just focussed on the shifts and puffs.”
After bronze in 2015 and silver in 2015, he is now the favourite to win the gold this year. “I just want to sail it race by race. Everything is possible in these conditions, so I just want to stay focussed and sail my own race. That’s the plan for the next two days.”
But he knows he needs to be careful, with a UFD starting penalty on the opening day. “I put a rope around my neck at the beginning of the regatta so that’s added some other pressure to handle. But it’s OK, but I am not worrying about it too much.”
Kasueske concluded, “Nothing is won yet and it is still very open.”
There are just four races left in the championship, with three more on Friday. Bugarin can’t be complacent yet, and the UFD from the first day means the event should go right down to the final race. The next five boats are within 14 points, with a 31 points gap below them, so the medals will probably come from this group.
Three more races are scheduled for Friday, with the final race on Saturday.
Results after nine races:
1 CRO 52 Nenad BUGARIN 19
2 GER 259 Phillip KASÜSKE 30
3 CZE 5 Ondrej TEPLY 33
4 GER 25 Max KOHLHOFF 36
5 ARG 48 Facundo OLEZZA 37
6 RUS 6 Arkadiy KISTANOV 44
7 GBR 71 Henry WETHERELL 75
8 GBR 96 Hector SIMPSON 78
9 DEN 24 André HØJEN CHRISTIANSEN 80
10 POL 16 Mikolaj LAHN 81