World Cup Series Final, Marseille, 5-10 June, 2018 - Jorge Zarif, from Brazil, took out the 2018 World Cup Series Final in Marseille last week after leading the fleet all week. It was his second World Cup win in a row, after stealing the win at Hyères six weeks ago. The Kiwi pair of Josh Junior and Andy Maloney took the silver and bronze.
The small fleet of 13 Finns had some very close and competitive racing, with six boats winning individual races. Marseille produced a mix bag of conditions for the first big event in the 2024 Olympic sailing venue.
Nenad Bugarin led after the opening day, but then Zarif took on the yellow jersey and held on to it right through to the end. Thursday was lost with no wind and rain and then the fleet sailed three races on Friday and Saturday to complete the opening series.
It remained really close at the top with Zarif taking a one-point lead over Junior into the medal race, though any of five sailors were capable of winning the title.
However, realistically, the battle was always be between Zarif Junior on 32 and 33 points. They had a small advantage over Alican Kaynar, from Turkey, in third on 39 points, Maloney on 41 and Jonathan Lobert, from France, on 47.
Zarif did not get off to a good start in the medal race, getting held up in the middle of the pack behind his main rivals. He tacked away to the right of the course as his rivals stayed left and, fortunately for the Brazilian, he found good compass numbers and was lifted up to the first mark. He admitted to not being sure of what the conditions would bring, but the bad start forced him to sail to the right.
"This time I was lucky."
He grabbed the lead and, despite being under pressure from both Ioannis Mitakis, from Greece, and Josip Olujic, from Croatia, was not about to surrender it. He went on to win the race and clinch gold.
“It feels amazing. I won in Hyères too, so it's a great feeling. I have kept the yellow jersey on for four or five days which is unique. It's like having a target on your back and everyone is trying to shoot it.”
Junior finished well down the pack in ninth place but held on to silver. Maloney was batting throughout to get enough places on Kaynar and Lobert and edged out Kaynar by a boat length at the finish to pick up bronze.
“The breeze came in better than expected and we had a great race but we just got unlucky up the first beat and that made the race pretty tough,” said Junior. “But I’m pretty stoked to end up second overall and it’s awesome to have two Kiwis on the podium.”
Maloney started the day in fourth, two points behind Kaynar, and seemed to have bronze under control until Kaynar caught Maloney on the final downwind. To complicate matters, Maloney also needed to finish within two places of Lobert.
Lobert was fifth, Maloney seventh and Kaynar 10 metres behind in eighth.
“It was pretty tense in those final moments on the final run,” Maloney said. “We were all giving it 100 percent and it was coming down to overlaps at the bottom gate for the reach to the finish line. I was pretty happy to beat Alican in the race and stay within enough of the French guy.”
“It’s really pleasing to come away with third overall but I think the most pleasing thing overall is just what we have been trying to work on all week and how that is playing out. We have made some good improvements since we have been in Europe and that’s pretty cool to see.”
The pair went into the regatta not putting too much onus on results as they searched for more race practice following their return to Olympic class sailing after helping Emirates Team New Zealand win the America's Cup. They sailed consistently well all week, claiming three race wins between them, and never sat outside the top four overall.
The fleet now heads to Kiel Week in Germany, which will be one of the biggest regattas on the circuit this year, which has pulled in 77 entries, which is probably the largest attendance since before the days of the World Cup events. Most of the fleet are using Kiel as final preparation for the Sailing World Championship in Aarhus in eight weeks time where the first eight places are up for grabs for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Results (medal race in brackets)
1 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 34 (1)
2 NZL 24 Josh Junior 51 (9)
3 NZL 61 Andy Maloney 55 (7)
4 TUR 21 Alican Kaynar 55 (8)
5 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 57 (5)
6 CRO 1 Josip Olujic 61 (3)
7 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 71 (2)
8 CRO 52 Nenad Bugarin 74 (4)
9 CAN 18 Tom Ramshaw 77 (6)
10 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 86 (10)
Full results here.