On Saturday afternoon in Tallinn, Estonia, Jorge Zarif (BRA) completed the task he began on Friday and won the 2013 Finn Gold Cup. A ninth place in the medal race was enough for him to become Brazil's first Finn world champion since the late Jorg Bruder in 1972. Ed Wright (GBR) placed third to keep the silver, while Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) won the race to take the bronze.
The sailors in the medal race launched on schedule for the first time all week but still, the wind died almost straight away and they sat and waited until past 14.00 until finally a stable breeze of around 6-8 knots became established and the race could start.
Jorge Zarif (BRA) had a 19 point lead and all he had to do was finish the race. He started safely and stayed out of trouble to cross in ninth to take the title. Ahead of him a fascinating race full of drama was played out.
Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) had promised to give it his all and he got a great start and controlled the lane to the favoured left side. However, Michele Paoletti (ITA) had managed to come up just enough to tack and cross ahead of the group to lead round the top mark from Ioannis Mitakis (GRE), Postma and Ed Wright (GBR).
Postma briefly passed Paoletti downwind but the Italian led through the gate and the leading four led the fleet back to the left side of the course. The wind started getting lighter and shiftier, which allowed Postma into the lead from Zsombor Berecz (HUN) on the final upwind. Wright rounded in third, just ahead of Milan Vujasinovic (CRO).
Postma and Berecz extended on the fleet downwind, but Postma needed one more place between himself and Wright to take the silver, and he almost got it. Wright picked up a penalty, did turns, and Vujasinovic closed the gap. Wright then found a lane away from the chasing boats and sailed back into a safe third to secure the silver, while Postma led Berecz across the line to take the bronze.
In taking the bronze a clearly elated Postma has broken a run a fourth places and adds to his two silvers from 2007 and 2011. He said, “I am very, very happy with this. I had quite a difficult week. I had a couple of good races but I was totally wrong a few times, and then it's hard to focus until the end, as I had two bad results making it really hard to get the gold, which is what I wanted. But then you have to be strong and fight to the end, so I am very happy with that. It was a good race.”
“It's been very light this week. Normally I am not that strong with the light winds as I am 5 or 6 kg more than the others. So I wished for more breeze and then in the light I also performed so I am happy.”
“It's nice to have a strategy and a plan and even it you are not 100 per cent sure, make a plan and go for it. I had to focus all the race but it came together today.”
Wright has now been on the podium for the past four years and was also really pleased with his silver medal. “It’s been a really, really tricky week without much wind, so just keeping focus with all the waiting around has been very important so that you’re ready to race when you do go out there.”
“The medal racing today was pretty stressful and not that enjoyable. It was all pretty close. My goal here was a top three finish and of course you would always prefer to win, but I’m happy with silver after the week we’ve had. Things would have been a lot closer with the Brazilian if I hadn’t had my OCS yesterday.”
“This week has been really good for me as I’m mainly known for my strengths in the strong winds, and this week has been really light. I’ve lost weight and trimmed down a lot of my equipment for this season to be more competitive in the light winds, which we expect more of in Rio, so it’s great that that seems to be paying off and that I’m back showing more of the light wind form that I had when I first came into the class."
The new Finn world champion, Zarif, said “It's feel great, fantastic. I couldn't be happier. I tried to stay outside the action but it was hard sometimes. I tried to start a little bit after the guys and played the right because you can come back with rights, and in the end everything went quite well.” “I am surprised we actually raced. Three or four times we had some puffs because of the clouds, so I thought when the wind came it was just another puff, but it got a little bit stronger and was sailable.”
“I think this will have a big effect back in Brazil. There is much more money around because of the Olympic Games so I hope with a world title they can support me a little bit more.”
“I had no idea that I would win the Finn Gold Cup. I want to thank everyone who helped with this championship, the competitors and organisers. We didn't have the best wind we could have but the organisation and the hospitality was fantastic here in Tallinn, so I would just like to thank everybody.”
At the prizegiving Saturday evening, the prizes and the Finn Gold Cup were presented by Esko Rechardt (FIN) who won the Olympic Gold medal during the 1980 Olympics in Tallinn.
Zarif also won the juniors. The top five were Zarif, Jake Lilley (AUS), Arcadiy Kistanov (RUS), Peter McCoy (GBR) and Riccardo Bevilacqua (ITA) - see photo.
In winning the 2013 Finn Gold Cup Jorge Zarif, who turns 21 next month, is one the youngest Finn world champions ever and he is definitely the only sailor to hold the Silver and Gold Cups at the same time.
After finishing 20th in the London 2012 Olympics Zarif went back to Brazil to recover and think about his next move. The removal of the Star class was instrumental in him teaming up with multiple world champion and Olympic medalist Bruno Prada (BRA). Prada asked if Zarif wanted to just take part at the next Games or win a medal. Zarif said he wanted to win a medal, so they started training together. They employed the services of former world champion and 2004 Olympic Silver medalist Rafa Trujillo (ESP) and the training began. Trujillo thought his young apprentice could could place top ten this week, but it seems Zarif didn't want to wait and had all but confirmed the title before the final race. The medal race was a mere formality.
Zarif won the Junior Finn World Championship, the Jorg Bruder Silver Cup, in 2009 and 2013. His father Jorge Zarif Neto (BRA) sailed two Olympic Games in 1984 and 1988 but passed away in 2008 at the age of just 50. But as the young Jorge has said many times this week it was his father winning a race at the 2004 Finn Gold Cup in Rio that inspired him down this path to top level Finn sailing. You get the feeling it is only just beginning.