The chips are down at the 2009 Finn Gold Cup in Vallensbaek, Denmark after day four with eight races on the board. Two more will be sailed Friday, before the medal race on Saturday. Thursday proved to be the toughest day so far in the series. Until now the sailors have been fighting large shifts and pressure changes across the coarse area. On Thursday that changed with a solid 15 to 25 knots causing new challenges for the 89 boat fleet.
The day started with New Zealand’s Dan Slater sharing the lead with USA’s Zach Railey. However neither managed to hang onto a top three slot. Slater posted a 12th and 14th to drop to sixth claiming, "My lack of sailing since the Games probably got found out a bit today. Low and slow was the story of my day." Railey a posted a 7th and 13th to drop to fourth, but just two points off the silver medal position.
The day belonged to local favorite Jonas Høgh Christensen and Britain’s Ed Wright. Both posted a win and a fourth place, but a collection of early series high scores is keeping Høgh Christensen off the top, though he is clearly the best of the past three days and the only sailor so far to win more than one race. Having effectively retired, perhaps temporarily, from Finn sailing since the Olympics last year, he is happy with his lot.
"I would be happy with a top ten here but also when it’s on, I’ll do anything to win and today I gave myself that opportunity. There’s still a good way to go and Ed has a good lead. If the forecast is right we are going to have a lot of breeze tomorrow and Ed usually doesn’t make mistakes in that so he’s going to be a hard guy to beat, it’s going to be tight."
Wright, the winner of the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup took the overall lead, just seven points ahead of his team mate Giles Scott, winner of race three of Tuesday. Third place is occupied by Croatia’s Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic after placing third in both Thursday’s windy races. The Croatian said, "It was a great day. The wind was was good, but still very shifty. You just have to get used to these conditions and use them the best you can. In the first two days I was expecting them to cancel the race, but that didn’t happen so you just have to keep going and make the best of what you have."
Wright is one of the favorites to win and is traditionally stronger at the close of a regatta than the start. However, in this high scoring series in Copenhagen’s shifting winds, and like all the other front runners, he already has a high score on the board, and with only one discard allowed any more mistakes will be severely punished. Racing continues at 11.00 Friday Follow the race live, thanks to TracTrac at: www.tractrac.com/fgc Follow the event live on the Twitter feed and Finn Class Blog at: http://finnclass.blogspot.com.
Photos thanks to Richard Langdon, www.oceanimages.co.uk.