Day five of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta brought lighter and more fickle winds in Weymouth Bay and a real mix of results in the Finn fleet. After two more races Giles Scott (GBR) takes a very useful points lead into Saturday's medal race against Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Jonathan Lobert (FRA). Race wins today went to Pieter Jan Postma (NED) and Daniel Birgmark (SWE).
Race nine was sailed in 10 knots and under and brought some new faces to the front of the fleet as well as sealing the fate of several sailors. Five boats were over at the start including sixth overall Dan Slater (NZL) and 11th placed Daniel Birgmark (SWE). On the downwind, the fleet spread out wide as the wind went very light. Eduard Skornyakov (RUS) held the lead for a while but lost it on the last lap to Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) and Junior World Champion Jorge Zarif (BRA). Slater had actually crossed the line in first but didn't get a gun.
A fourth place for overall leader Giles Scott (GBR) extended his lead to 10 points, while second placed Jonathan Lobert (FRA) slipped up with a 30th. Third overall Ben Ainslie (GBR) placed 10th.
The final qualification race was crucial for most of the top 10. After his OCS, Birgmark had slipped further away from the top 10 and needed to do something special in the final race to make the medal race and he did just that. Leading the fleet from the downwind leg he won his first race win of the week with fellow OCS'er from race nine Dan Slater following him across the line in second. Zach Railey (USA) also recovered well from his 29th in race nine to place third.
Postma described the first race. “We had a northerly wind again like yesterday and lots of current which had a big effect on the racing. I took a pin end start, and I was early so I went back and then I tacked again and had a nice gap through the starboard boats and took a long port. The right paid today, like the last few days, so I went into the cliffs, and played the shifts over that side.” Postma rounded the top mark in eighth. “I had a good downwind and caught a few boats. Then I played the extreme right again. The other boats stayed more to the middle, which paid off. I finished second over the water but Dan was OCS so I won the race.”
Skandia Sail for Gold marks Postma's - who won silver medals at the 2007 world championships and the Olympic test regatta - return to Finn sailing. “After Sail for Gold last year I took a year off, did Medemblik this year and now this regatta and in two weeks we have the worlds in San Francisco. For me this regatta was training and in two weeks we have the real stuff. This is a great venue. There are always a lot of things going on, a lot of different things. So everyone has their opportunities and chances. We've had flat water and waves and different wind conditions. So it's good.”
Birgmark said, “In the second race the pin end was really favoured and I was just up from the pin and then there was a really long port tack out to the right. I had good speed and rounded the top mark in third and had really good downwind speed to take the lead. On the second upwind I just tried to maintain a good position on the fleet. First there was a big left shift and then it came back right. I saw Dan Slater going off to the right so tried to close up the distance to the right, tried to sail fast and going lower just to cover all the boats on the right hand side.”
Slater said, “I rounded the leeward mark in about eighth in dirty air and could see what was happening with the Stars on the right so I eased the travelled and reached off to the right, losing about 100 metres on the boats above me. But when the shift arrived I tacked and headed to the top mark in third.” He overhauled Railey downwind to take second place.
So the medal race line-up looks like this
Giles Scott (GBR) - former World Junior Champion has a 16.4 point lead going into medal race. Has an inconsistent record in medal races so needs to focus to make sure of the win.
Ben Ainslie (GBR) – five times world champion, four time European champion two Olympic gold medals, two years away from racing and still in second overall with a chance of taking the win. Undefeated in the Finn since May 2004.
Jonathan Lobert (FRA) – led the regatta for the first four days before picking up some high scores. Still a good chance of a medal and still has a mathematical chance of victory, though he has to win the race.
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) – European Champion in 2009 and 2010 and has already won two SWC events this year. Prefers the lighter winds but in with a chance of a medal of any colour.
Ed Wright (GBR) – 2006 European Champion and winner of last year's Sailing World Cup. Has a habit of winning medal races though he can only win silver or bronze here
Dan Slater (NZL) – despite an OCS in the first race today, managed to stay inside the top 10 and still in with a chance of silver
Zach Railey (USA) – 2008 Olympic silver medalist. Too far adrift to realistically win a medal
Thomas Le Breton (FRA) – third in Hyeres this year but again too much to do to take a medal.
Brendan Casey (AUS) – recently returned to Finn sailing and won a race here and put together a respectable series.
Daniel Birgmark (SWE) – won the last race today after an OCS in race nine and has a record of sailing well in medal races.
The medal race is scheduled for 14.00 on Saturday with live coverage though the event website www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk
Results after 10 races:
1 GBR 41 Giles SCOTT 44
2 GBR 3 Ben AINSLIE 60.4
3 FRA 112 Jonathan LOBERT 61
4 CRO 524 Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC 62
5 GBR 11 Edward WRIGHT 64.3
6 NZL 1 Dan SLATER 67.1
7 USA 4 Zach RAILEY 81
8 FRA 115 Thomas LE BRETON 81
9 AUS 241 Brendan CASEY 85
10 SWE 11 Daniel BIRGMARK 88
1. Start - OnEditon
2. Giles Scott - © Skandia Team GBR/Richard Langdon
3. Ben Ainslie - © Skandia Team GBR/Richard Langdon
Full results at http://www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk/results/Finn.htm