Europeans, Helsinki - Scott dominates but Kljakovic Gaspic still leads

Two race wins for Giles Scott (GBR) moves him up to within five points of the defending Finn European Champion, Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) at the Open Europeans Helsinki 2011, after eight races have been sailed. Andrew Mills (GBR) drops one to third, which a nice gap on the rest of the fleet going into Wednesday's final two qualification races.

Giles Scott
Pieter Jan Postma
Bjorn Allansson
Jonathan Lobert

Two race wins for Giles Scott (GBR) moves him up to within five points of the defending Finn European Champion, Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) at the Open Europeans Helsinki 2011, after eight races have been sailed. Andrew Mills (GBR) drops one to third, which a nice gap on the rest of the fleet going into Wednesday's final two qualification races.

Three races on Tuesday in moderately strong winds brings the 71 boat Finn fleet back on schedule, after losing its opening day on Saturday. The day started wet and windless and ended sunny and spectacular with 14-16 knots winds and fantastic surfing waves.

Race 6 finally started under black flag in 10-12 knots with Oscar flag for free pumping going up at the first mark and staying up for the rest of the day. Giles Scott rounded the top mark from Kljakovic Gaspic and Rafa Trujillo (ESP) and extended on each and every leg to take a great win. Johan Tillander (SWE) moved up to third by the second windward mark, but Kljakovic Gaspic put his foot down on the final downwind and crossed in third, just a few boatlengths ahead of the Swede.

Timo Haggort (NED) was the early leader in Race 7 from Trujillo and Daniel Birgmark (SWE). Trujillo rounded the gate ahead and looked to be heading for an easy win. However the wrong gybe at the last top mark allowed Scott and Giorgio Poggi (ITA) to sail past in more pressure for first and second.

Haggort said, “I benefited from a huge shift to the left, and after a reasonable start I managed to be first at the top mark, and finished sixth which is OK for me, my best result at a Europeans. I was pleased to be so fast on the downwind, but it is getting better and better. Rafa was just in front of me at the gate, so I was quite happy with that first downwind, but I think I need a little bit more aggression there. On the second downwind I went too deep at the start, so that was a big mistake and I dropped from second to sixth.”

Rafa, “I had a few issues downwind, today, but my starting was better. I also had a clear strategy today and after I had two good races, I had no energy left in the third, so I was very happy that the wind was shifting and it looked like we had one tack and one gybe. So I am pretty happy today, my goal today was three top 10 places and I got the three top six places and can keep fighting for another day.”

“In the second race I gybed at the top mark to take the last shift at the end of the upwind and I was heading to the finish thinking everything was OK, then Giles and Giorgio rounded and went the other way and when I realised this, they were already on top of me. Giles is clearly the fastest guy here downwind. My objective here is top five overall, which is quite difficult, as it's a pretty tough fleet, but if I make top five then I am automatically selected for the Olympic Games.”

The last race of the day, Race 8, was characterised by a large left shift on the first beat, with Pieter Jan Postma (NED) opening up a nice lead and extending throughout. Trujillo again rounded in second, but faded away to sixth, letting Andrew Mills (GBR) and Scott through to second and third.

Postma said, “The wind shifted before the start, 20 degrees to the left, so everybody was reaching into the pin end, but I was already there. Then the whole fleet tacked off to the mark and we could actually lay it in one, putting the bow down as fast as possible to the next shift. The wind stayed left all the race, except the last few minutes of the beat, then I could tack and was clear. After that it was a done deal. The downwind was a little bit of a low reach and on the second upwind it was more about covering the fleet.”

“But I am not happy with my performance today. I had a capsize in the first race downwind, so it wasn't the best day. I was good at times, but I have a bit to do tomorrow.”

Championship leader, Kljakovic Gaspic, picked up a consistent 3, 5, 4 today to stay in control, but Scott has narrowed his lead to just five points and is probably now the biggest threat to the Croatian retaining the title he has held for the past two years. Mills drops one to third overall after a 5, 10, 2 today.

In the Junior European Championship, things are very tight. Egor Terpigorev (RUS) has a scant one point lead over Josip Olujic (CRO), while Julian Massler (GER) has regained third spot from Milosz Wojewski (POL) after clearly liking the breezy conditions today with three good results.

Scott said of his great day, “I had a better day. It was kind of needed actually. In the first race I got to the top mark in the lead and in that kind of stuff I think it pays to have clear air and if you are out in front it's really easy to extend. The race was quite nice and comfortable for me, and stress free. I was also very much aware we had three races and I took it quite easy coming into the top mark and then just did enough to keep the lead over Rafa.”

“Rafa had a good lead in the second race. I caught up to him really quickly and then for half the run we were level, and then I got the better of him.”

“In the last race there was a massive left shift and then it went even more in the second beat, and I wasn't expecting that. And once it went I thought it can't go any more, then it went another 10-20 degrees by the second windward mark. I just got onto port immediately thinking it's got to come back, and I was going towards the starboard layline, and I was beginning to worry a bit, but I found one to come back in on. And I was fast downwind today, which was nice”

“It's put a bit of pressure on Ivan and hopefully my legs will be recovered by tomorrow and I will try and do the same again. But today was quite good fun as it was great sailing.”

Follow the racing as it happens at the event blog at: http://www.openeuropeans2011.com/eventsites/classpage_microsite.asp?eventid=65354&cid=78

This will be updated each day with the @Finn_Class Twitter feed from on the water, photos, blog entries and video links on the day's action.

Racing for the Finns continues with the final two full fleet races on Wednesday. The medal race for the top 10 and the final race for the rest on Thursday 14 July.

Results after eight races:

2 GBR 41 Giles SCOTT 25
3 GBR 85 Andrew MILLS 28
4 NED 842 Pieterjan POSTMA 46
5 FRA 29 Thomas LE BRETON 46
7 GBR 11 Ed WRIGHT 58
8 FRA 112 Jonathan LOBERT 62
9 SLO 573 Vasilij ZBOGAR 66
10 SWE 11 Daniel BIRGMARK 68


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