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in the bag

Without racing a Finn seriously since the Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth,UK, last June it would seem that Giles Scott has lost none of his ability to dominate an international fleet, as the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa SofĂ­a MAPFRE in Palma de Mallorca drew to a close on Saturday.

Having been denied a place at the London 2012 Olympics by his team mate, and some time training partner, Ben Ainslie, Scott took it hard and distracted himself with some different sailing ambitions, which ultimately led to his current position on the Luna Rossa America’s Cup team.

However, his ultimate goal of Finn gold in Rio in 2016 is never far from his thoughts and the Princesa Sofia regatta this past week was as good an indication as was needed that Scott is still at the top of his game and the one that everyone else needs to beat

He wasn’t totally dominant in Palma with 2012 leather medalist Pieter-Jan Postma scoring a slightly better final series than the 2011 world and European champion. However Scott did enough to convince himself that he is on track and not losing his affinity with the boat that many others would have done after a 10 month absence.

Postma’s inadvertent capsize in the final medal race gave the event to Scott on a plate but Scott claims he had the win in the bag before that happened. In fact Postma was Scott’s only real challenger by mid-week taking it right down to the final race.

London bronze medalist Jonathan Lobert was showing good form early on, and led after the first day, but faded mid week and could only manage fourth overall. The bronze eventually went to Vasilij Zbogar who has been putting on a lot of hours at Luca Devoti’s Valencia based Dinghy Academy. While Scott and Postma shared most of the race wins, Scott’s team mates Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews were also up the front on several occasions despite a degree of lack of training, and won a medal race apiece.

Due to America’s Cup commitments Scott is only able to sail a couple of Finn regattas this side of August, after which he plans to sail Finns full time again. Great Britain has won the past four Olympic Finn gold medals and based on current form it would be hard to argue against it being the favourite nation for a fifth gold in 2016.

The week in Palma also tested a fairly radical new scoring system which in effect reduced the value of the opening races and heavily weighted the two double-points medal races. It raises the possibility that a sailor could discard the first three days, produce an average performance in the finals series and then win gold by sailing a blinder in the medal races. Sailors are repeatedly asking for a scoring system that rewards consistency over the whole regatta, reflects changing weather patterns and doesn’t weight the whole event on one day. The trialled system falls short in a number of these areas, even though, this time, the overall results probably reflected the performance of the sailors. But it is not hard to imagine a very different outcome. The jury is still out on this particular format but all sailors who provided feedback provided negative feedback.

The sailors now have two weeks off before the final event in the 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup takes place in Hyeres, France. – Robert Deaves.