The first day of the Finn Gold Cup at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships delivered more than it promised as the wind exceeded the forecast light winds, though the fleet did have to wait afloat for more than an hour for the sea breeze to develop enough to start a race.
Ben Ainslie (GBR) won both his heats to lead overnight, while solid performances from Rafa Trujillo (ESP) and Zach Railey (US) leave them in second and third overall.
Once the wind did fill in, race one got under way in 12-13 knots with Oscar flag flying for free pumping. Yellow fleet started first under a black flag, following one general recall, with Ainslie winning the pin and leading throughout to take the race win. Zach Railey crossed in second while Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) crossed third. Long time second placed Jonas Hoegh Christensen (DEN) ended up fourth.
The wind dropped half way through the race with the 'R' flag raised to limit pumping again, though Oscar was up again for the start of race two, as the breeze built to a solid 15 knots, providing for some great sailing conditions. This time, the defending world champion Ed Wright led round the top mark from Brendan Casey (AUS), Dan Slater (NZL), Railey and Ainslie. Ainslie took the lead on the first downwind to lead round the rest of the course for his second win of the day. Wright held on to second while Casey crossed in third.
In the blue fleet, starting second and sailing the inner trapezoid course, Rafa Trujillo (ESP), the 2004 Olympic Silver medalist, led all the way to win. He was followed over the finish by returning Olympian Chris Cook (CAN) who hasn't raced competitively for three years, with the current European Champion Giles Scott (GBR) in third.
Trujillo was again up the front in the second race, though Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) made the best of the first upwind to lead round and extend to win the race. Andrew Mills (GBR) rounded in second from Trujillo and Thomas Le Breton (FRA). Mills dropped back, while Le Breton and Trujillo battled for second, with the French sailor coming off best this time.
Postma said of his day, “I was not so consistent today.” He finished 20th in the first race. “But the racing was good. We had good lines and the courses were well set. The level is also very high and people were fighting all the time for places. So it was not so easy. It was quite shifty and the side changed a bit. But in the second race it was clear for me what to do and I wanted to go fully left so it was pin end start and out to the left.”
Second overall, Trujillo was really happy with his results, “I am happy with the first day with two good races as I think it is going to be a long week here. I was also happy to have such good conditions after the forecast we had earlier. The first race was pretty difficult, but my coach said to try the right so I went to the right and it paid off well. In the second race PJ got away, but I had a good fight with Thomas for second.”
Railey added, “Today was a great start for me. It's going to be a long regatta so it's nice to start with two solid races. I was a little disappointed on the fifth as I lost a boat right at the end when Jonathan Lobert just got past me. Otherwise in the first race I rounded about seventh and made up too second so, overall I gained more boats than I lost, mostly on the downwind. The fleets were so compact at the top mark, with about 10 or 15 boats all hitting the top mark pretty close, and there were some pretty big speed differences downwind.”
The defending champion Wright said, “I had a slow start, though did better than last year. But who said Perth was windy? I was surprised by the light weather conditions and I’m hoping for better winds for the rest of the week.”
Racing continues Tuesday with two more heats scheduled for each fleet. After Wednesday, there is a lay day before a gold and silver fleet split for Friday and Saturday and the medal race on Sunday.
Results after two races
Full results at: http://www.perth2011.com/competition/PERTH2011/SAM002000/results