Experience won over youth today on the fourth day of the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia in Palma, as regatta leader Ben Ainslie (GBR) stamped his authority over the fleet with two more race wins on a day when very few could find any consistency and many of the front runners picked up what turned out to be their discards. Giles Scott (GBR) remains in second and despite a shocker in race seven Thomas Le Breton (FRA) hangs onto third.
The day opened with a blue, clear sky, and bright sunshine over the glassy water, with not a breath of wind all morning. A soft sea breeze gradually moved in but the wind rarely exceeded 8 knots and sometimes a lot less. The fleet was split into gold and silver divisions today which meant that the competition at the top got even harder, with all the top sailors now in one fleet.
By the time of the start of race seven, the wind was about 4-7 knots from the south-east with several large shifts coming through to separate the fleet. This is most markedly seen in the results from the gold fleet which are all over the place. The favoured side kept shifting from one upwind to the next, so much so that the first gold fleet race was abandoned after a major shift came through.
Once it was finally restarted, Ben Ainslie (GBR) won race seven from Caleb Paine (USA) – the top junior at last year's Finn Gold Cup – and Giles Scott (GBR), and then went on to record his fifth win of the series in race eight, crossing ahead of Giorgio Poggi (ITA) and Rafal Szukiel (POL).
This meant Ainslie has extended his lead over Scott to nine points, and with Scott a further 15 points ahead of third placed Le Breton, the British pair are pulling away from the fleet. Dan Slater (NZL) drops to fourth after 5, 12 while Zach Railey (USA) hangs onto fifth with a 25 (later a DSQ), 9. Meanwhile current world champion Ed Wright (GBR) posted a fourth place – after a DNC for a second yellow flag penalty in race seven – to move up to sixth overall, and within striking distance of the medals for the first time this week
There were, in fact, a lot of high scores for the top 20 boats – 9 out of the top 20 picked up their discard so far, many with results in the 20s and 30s.
Starting after the gold fleet, the silver fleet also got two light wind races in. Tauras Rymonis (LTU) won race seven from Johal Nachhatar (IND) and Andre Budzien (GER) after the first boat across the line Christoph Froh (GER) scored OCS. Race eight for the silver fleet was won by Florian Raudaschl (AUT) from Alejandro Aranzueque (ESP) and Felix Denikaev (RUS). This leaves Raudaschl with a seven point lead over Julian Massler (GER) and Thomas Vika (CZE) going into Friday's final races.
With just 20 points separating seventh to 17th, there is still all to play for on the final day for the gold and silver fleets on Friday, before the medal race for the top 10 on Saturday.
Results after 8 races:
1 GBR 3 Ben AINSLIE 14
2 GBR 41 Giles SCOTT 23
3 FRA 29 Thomas Le BRETON 38
4 NZL 1 Dan SLATER 43
5 USA 4 Zach RAILEY 44
6 GBR 11 Ed WRIGHT 45
7 ESP 100 Rafael TRUJILLO 48
8 ITA 146 Michele PAOLETTI 49
9 SLO 5 Gasper VINCEC 55
10 ITA 117 Giorgio POGGI 59
Full results: www.trofeoprincesasofia.org/result.php?miclase=FINN
Event website: www.trofeoprincesasofia.org
Photos: Nico Martinez
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