The saying “it’s never over until it’s over” was never truer than the final qualification day for the Finn fleet at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia Iberostar in Palma. The fact that Giles Scott (GBR) managed to extend his lead with 20, 9 finishes really sums up the day it was. The landscape in the top 10 is dramatically different from this morning. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) is now up to second while Tapio Nirkko (FN) is back in third.
It was a very shifty day, perhaps the shiftiest so far this week. As Giles Scott (GBR) explained “There were big swings left to right and it was difficult to tell which shift would win into the top.” This brought a lot of new faces to the front and left many in the top 10 with some pretty high scores for the day.
In the first race there was more pressure on the right in one race, with an average of 8 to 10 knots, but different pressure across the course. The first race of the day was won by Caleb Paine (USA) from Ben Cornish (GBR) and Deniss Karpak (EST).
Regatta leader Scott recovered to 20th after a pood first beat, while second overall Josh Junior (NZL) didn’t recover from a deep first mark rounding to place 45th, a result he had to count. Junior then picked up a 50th in the second race to drop to eighth overall and outside any medal contention. He was philosophical about the situation. “I just sailed really badly. You win some you loose some, but I was really happy to be right up the top for as long as I was.”
The second race was won by Mikolaj Lahn (POL), from Thomas le Breton (FRA) and Nenad Bugarin (CRO). Even though Scott could only manage ninth in the second race he still extended his lead at the top. A lot of the top guys were having a much worse day.
Lahn said of his race, “I had a great start and good speed downwind, it is my first win and finally it shows that my training is coming together.”
Other big movers today included Milan Vujasinovic (CRO) who placed 8, 6 to move all the way up to sixth. Le Breton’s 5, 2 moved him from the low 20s up to tenth. Likewise several of the guys who had been sailing well all week dropped out of the top 10 for the first time. It was definitely a moving day for most of the sailors.
Barring major disasters or improbably scenarios, the top three should take the medals in Saturday’s medal race. Scott is assured a meal of some colour. Mathematically Paine in fourth and Jonathan Lobert (FRA) in fifth can take a medal but would need to win the race with either second overall, Ivan Klkajovic Gaspic (CRO), or third placed Tapio Nirkko (FIN), in last lace.
Scott commented, “It was very tricky today. I was a little off the pace in first race today. I really struggled upwind. Unfortunately for Josh he didn't get the best of it. It's a shame for him as he's sailed well this week. We rounded the first mark in race one close to one another, which was pretty deep.”
The Finn medal race is scheduled for 12.00.
Results after 10 races
1 GBR 41 Giles Scott 63.8
2 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 75
3 FIN 218 Tapio Nirkko 75
4 USA 6 Caleb Paine 93
5 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 93
6 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 127
7 NED 842 Pieter-Jan Postma 129
8 NZL 24 Josh Junior 131
9 SWE 6 Björn Allansson 133
10 FRA 29 Thomas Le Breton 133
Photos (from top): Giles Scott, Tapio Nirkko, Milan Vujasinovic, Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic