Disaster for Wright

As Railey pulls ahead once again going into the final day of the Finn Gold Cup

Friday July 10th 2009, Author: Robert Deaves/Sailing Intelligenc, Location: United Kingdom
Zach Railey returned to the top of the leaderboard after a tough day at the Finn Gold Cup in Vallensbaek, Denmark. After leading the first race on Friday from start to finish he placed seventh in race 10 to go in into Saturday's medal race with a narrow three point lead over Jonas Høgh Christensen. Race ten was won by Giles Scott, who completes the top three places, a further two points back. The day's biggest loser was Thursday's leader, Ed Wright, who was black flagged in race nine, removing any chance of the world title for him, as he now has to carry a 46th from the first race.

Fourth placed Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) is just two points further back and all four sailors have a realistic chance of taking one of dinghy sailing toughest titles in the double points medal race to be sailed just outside the marina at 11.00 Saturday.

Friday's racing was the toughest yet, with a cold south-westerly in place, raining most of the day with winds up to 25 knots and a short choppy seaway running.

Race nine winner Zach Railey (USA) takes up the story “I started down at the pin end and a left shift came in with about a minute to go and it took maybe 35 or 40 seconds before everyone tacked over to port before I could get over. But once I tacked it looked pretty good and I crossed all the way across the race course. I took one tack on starboard and got to the port layline and took one more shift and then myself and Bryan Boyd [USA] were 1, 2 round the top mark, so that was pretty cool.”

The Americans were followed round by Daniel Birgmark (SWE), Mark Andrews (GBR), Tapio Nirkko (FIN), Oleksiy Borysov (UKR) and Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN).

Railey continued, “Daniel Birgmark and I had a really good fight on the first downwind leg and then on the second upwind, the left came in again and I was just a little to the left of Daniel and Jonas.” Railey led down the reaches to the finish, though Høgh Christensen closed the gap to finish second ahead of Birgmark, Pieter Jan Postma (NED) and Nirkko.

Though the wind and waves made for great, if tough sailing, the cold rain made for a dismal wait between races. After several false starts, it finally got away in a slightly reduced breeze. The pin end was favoured again and very crowded with a number of boats, including Railey and Høgh Christensen bailing out and restarting.

Giles Scott (GBR) won his second race of the series. He said, “In the second race I nailed the pin end tacked after about a minute or two and just cleared the fleet. Then I caught a big lift on starboard and went over the fleet again and had quite a lengthy lead round the first mark. It went right half way up and I was about the only boat to get into it.”

Railey added, “The pin end was really favoured and I didn't want to risk being OCS which would have blown the regatta for me so I held back from the line. We had to bail out and I found a lane to get out to the left side and worked my way through the fleet.” Høgh Christensen was thinking alike, “I could have pushed it harder and maybe gotten in there but I didn't want to take the risk and get an OCS on the board. I just wanted to stay clear of any trouble and decided to play it little safer today.”

Scott was followed round the top mark by Railey, Rafael Trujillo (ESP), Birgmark, Wright and Høgh Christensen. Scott continued, “I was pretty annoyed to see them [Railey and Høgh Christensen] there. I saw Zach had bit of difficultly at the start but he caught up nicely.”

Railey said, “We had a really good fight on the downwind but it got a little shiftier and lighter on the second upwind and I didn't want to take too many chances going to one side or the other and finished seventh so now have a good position going into the medal race.”

Scott extended on the downwind and went on to take the race win, while Wright caught up to second. Birgmark finished a steady day with another third place.

Scott said, “It's nice to have the fleet racing over. It's been quite a stressful week with the breeze being up and down. Today was better actually but there was till boats coming in from both corners, but it was just normally racing today. But it was so cold between races.”

Railey said, “The points are really close for tomorrow. It's all up for grabs and will be very tough. The medal race is supposed to be very exciting and I think we will have an exciting one tomorrow. There are four guys who can win and it will be interesting to see what happens. All you can really ask for is to be in a position to finish on the podium at the end of the day.”

Høgh Christensen agreed, “It's going to be be a fantastically tight race. All four of us are within a few points and anyone can take it, so I'm expecting a really tight and a good fun race.”

Scott was more bullish, “It's going to be tight tomorrow, but bring it on!”

So the medal race line up looks like this:

Zach Railey - USA
2008 Olympic silver medalist, but yet to medal at a major championship. But sailing cooler and cleverer than ever, so this could be his year.

Jonas Høgh-Christensen - DEN
World Champion in 2006 and placed sixth at last year's Olympics. Hasn't raced since then and is here 'for fun', but his relaxed attitude is showing with the best scoreline of any sailor in the second half of the regatta,

Giles Scott - GBR
Fast improving young pretender who won last year's Junior Worlds in Melbourne. Won race three and ten here and has put together an impressive series. Placed second at the Delta Lloyd after leading all week and losing on the medal race to Wright.

Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic – CRO
Had an impressive series this year and been consistent this week, but hasn't won a race yet. Won Hyeres this year, and twice been runner up at the Europeans in 2007 and 2008.

Dan Slater – NZL
Only really just returned since taking a beak after the Olympics and has a few rusty areas, but a great competitor. Can take silver if things go his way,

Daniel Birgmark – SWE
A typical performance from Birgmark this week. Very steady. Could just take the bronze, but it's a long shot.

Marin Misura – CRO
Won a race this week, but too far adrift to take a medal. Made the top ten at the 2007 Gold Cup, but lost out on Olympic selection to Kljakovic Gaspic.

Rafael Trujillo – ESP
2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2007 World Champion. Made life hard for himself this week with too many high scores and no possibility of a medal.

Edward Wright - GBR
European Champion in 2006, and third in the Finn Gold Cup that year. So far this year he has won two ISAF Sailing World Cup events, won three of the medal races and has taken an unassailable lead in that series to take the title before the final event in Weymouth. But today's black flag has cost him dearly.

Andrew Mills - GBR
Sailed a great series here for his best ever Gold Cup result. A lot of work to do to move up from 10th, at 15 points adrift of Wright, but could easily be up the front.

The medal race is scheduled for 11.00 on Saturday, with the 11th race for the rest to follow immediately afterwards.

Results:

Pos Helm Nat R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 Total Net
1 Zach Railey USA 10 6 6 6 -29 4 7 13 1 7 89 60
2 Jonas Høgh-Christensen DEN 20 -35 17 1 5 7 4 1 2 6 98 63
3 Giles Scott GBR 6 16 1 13 -20 8 5 2 13 1 85 65
4 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic CRO -31 3 21 2 6 13 3 3 12 4 98 67
5 Dan Slater NZL -33 1 3 5 3 20 12 14 15 8 114 81
6 Daniel Birgmark SWE 17 2 13 -20 8 5 20 12 3 3 103 83
7 Marin Misura CRO 3 -21 10 11 21 1 6 10 10 16 109 88
8 Rafael Trujillo ESP 22 19 16 4 4 -31 2 6 7 11 122 91
9 Edward Wright GBR 46 4 2 9 18 6 1 4 (88.0 BFD) 2 180 92
10 Andrew Mills GBR 7 5 -32 16 2 16 13 16 22 10 139 107
11 Mark Andrews GBR 16 -52 4 8 13 21 8 31 8 12 173 121
12 Peer Moberg NOR 2 13 15 22 22 17 17 -24 14 5 151 127
13 Michael Maier CZE 28 -47 7 18 19 10 14 5 17 13 178 131
14 Pieter Jan Postma NED 13 -56 27 14 39 9 9 9 4 9 189 133
15 Tapio Nirkko FIN 12 34 -47 3 9 18 19 21 5 14 182 135
16 Thomas Le Breton FRA 5 18 18 25 12 14 26 8 18 -27 171 144
17 Deniss Karpak EST 9 28 5 15 (88.0 DNF) 25 22 7 23 19 241 153
18 Florian Raudaschl AUT 27 23 14 10 10 27 16 -30 6 20 183 153
19 Rafal Szukiel POL 4 7 25 -33 15 30 29 15 16 21 195 162
20 Jonathan Lobert FRA -57 9 19 35 53 2 10 11 11 17 224 167
21 Eduard Skornyakov RUS 32 8 35 17 1 29 15 (88.0 DSQ) 19 15 259 171
22 Alejandro Muscat ESP -37 32 8 23 11 12 18 22 21 25 209 172
23 Giorgio Poggi ITA 19 26 28 7 14 15 (88.0 DSQ) 34 28 22 281 193
24 Piotr Kula POL 8 29 12 28 31 -45 11 17 25 33 239 194
25 Björn Allansson SWE 29 42 -44 19 28 3 21 27 24 18 255 211
26 Riccardo Cordovani ITA 24 22 9 31 17 26 38 44 33 -63 307 244
27 Bryan Boyd USA 1 30 24 29 7 54 27 26 (88.0 DNF) 51 337 249
28 Tomas Vika (J) CZE 34 40 11 26 26 42 -50 19 41 32 321 271
29 Jorge Zarif (J) BRA 26 10 23 41 -60 11 39 41 39 43 333 273
30 Wietze Zetzema NED 18 39 50 24 -51 22 24 38 40 29 335 284
31 Alexandros Dragoutsis GRE 41 -57 22 48 24 36 37 23 26 28 342 285
32 John Romanko CAN 38 -59 30 34 27 41 30 28 32 34 353 294
33 Frederico Melo POR 56 -60 29 37 36 23 23 50 20 26 360 300
34 Timo Hagoort NED 30 12 37 21 30 47 41 52 -55 40 365 310
35 Filippo Baldassari (J) ITA -65 53 26 38 54 34 34 29 27 31 391 326
36 Henry Bagnall GBR 53 43 -70 39 32 46 35 25 44 23 410 340
37 Nanno Schuttrups NED 23 14 51 42 55 (88.0 BFD) 36 45 36 42 432 344
38 Karel van Hellemond NED 49 33 39 30 -65 49 28 59 29 30 411 346
39 Egor Larionov (J) RUS 48 27 38 43 -74 35 25 62 31 38 421 347
40 Kaspar Andresen DEN 39 24 20 -59 45 32 49 53 50 44 415 356
41 Thomas Mørup-Petersen DEN 54 25 42 46 (88.0 BFD) 40 31 42 43 48 459 371
42 Oleksiy Borysov UKR 66 (88.0 DNC) 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 16 19 43 20 9 24 461 373
43 Nachhatar Johal IND -64 15 31 49 50 44 53 54 38 41 439 375
44 Alex Selivanov RUS 15 11 45 62 23 -73 55 39 69 68 460 387
45 Gaszton Pal HUN -85 41 36 51 34 38 66 65 34 35 485 400
46 Andrew Casey USA 50 -67 59 27 35 59 33 49 51 47 477 410
47 Mihail Kopanov BUL -69 46 41 54 33 51 52 37 45 52 480 411
48 Lauri Väinsalu (J) EST 25 38 54 (88.0 DNF) 47 58 40 70 46 36 502 414
49 Timothy Castles AUS -87 58 63 32 76 33 54 18 35 56 512 425
50 Rudolf Lidarik CZE 44 50 34 45 41 39 58 -60 56 58 485 425
51 Henry Boening BRA -82 74 49 40 40 61 47 48 30 37 508 426
52 Márton Beliczay HUN 35 54 -74 53 25 72 48 43 52 46 502 428
53 Caleb Paine (J) USA 14 64 48 44 -67 24 65 56 59 62 503 436
54 Gert van der Heijden NED 45 37 -64 57 44 52 59 51 42 49 500 436
55 Kenneth Bøggild DEN -76 20 40 70 48 55 62 47 47 50 515 439
56 Adam Nicholson CAN 59 51 67 47 49 -68 42 35 37 53 508 440
57 Anton Sadchykov (J) UKR 40 44 -66 58 61 66 44 33 57 39 508 442
58 Akif Muslubas TUR 11 55 33 52 73 37 56 63 67 (88.0 BFD) 535 447
59 Ian Cook (J) USA 52 49 55 50 43 28 60 58 (88.0 DNF) 88.0 DNC 571 483
60 Dirk Meid GER 60 -73 56 56 64 60 46 40 49 55 559 486
61 Dennis de Ruiter NED 63 -71 52 67 69 53 32 36 61 61 565 494
62 Jørgen Svendsen DEN 47 69 43 61 46 -75 68 55 62 60 586 511
63 Hartmut Duisberg GER 55 70 69 -73 57 43 51 46 63 59 586 513
64 R. Phillip Ramming USA -86 36 61 74 72 48 61 61 54 57 610 524
65 Peter Haidekker HUN 58 45 46 77 42 77 67 (88.0 DNC) 64 65 629 541
66 Marco Buglielli ITA 67 31 -79 63 71 74 63 66 58 54 626 547
67 Thomas Gautschi SUI 62 65 -76 75 37 65 64 67 60 64 635 559
68 Olof Lundqvist SWE 75 76 75 72 38 62 (88.0 DNF) 69 48 45 648 560
69 Harles Liiv EST 73 48 (88.0 DNC) 36 68 88.0 DNC 45 32 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 654 566
70 Henk de Jager NED 78 62 53 64 63 50 57 57 (88.0 DNF) 88.0 DNF 660 572
71 Gasper Vincec SLO 21 17 (88.0 DNF) 12 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 666 578
72 Jesper Petersen DEN 70 79 68 69 59 67 (88.0 DNC) 71 53 69 693 605
73 Panagiotis Davourlis GRE 36 68 65 65 81 70 69 64 (88.0 DNC) 88.0 DNC 694 606
74 Nikolai Ratzlaff DEN 79 66 (88.0 DNC) 76 79 57 72 68 65 66 716 628
75 Patrik Deutcher (J) CZE 71 80 57 71 82 64 71 (88.0 DNF) 66 67 717 629
76 Claudio Bosetti ITA 42 78 62 66 52 71 (88.0 DNF) 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 723 635
77 Carlo Recchi (J) ITA 51 75 58 55 56 (88.0 DNC) 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 735 647
78 Elemer Haidekker (J) HUN 43 83 81 81 66 56 73 (88.0 DNC) 88.0 DNF 88.0 DNC 747 659
79 Lars Hall DEN 61 63 72 60 58 (88.0 DNF) 88.0 DNF 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNF 88.0 DNC 754 666
80 Peter Corbett GER 77 82 71 80 78 63 70 (88.0 DNC) 68 88.0 DNC 765 677
81 Uwe Barthel GER 72 72 73 79 62 81 (88.0 DNC) 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 791 703
82 Sverker Härd SWE 84 61 78 (88.0 DNC) 70 79 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 812 724
83 Matthias Bohn GER 74 (88.0 DNF) 60 68 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 818 730
84 Charles Heimler USA 83 84 77 78 77 69 (88.0 DNC) 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 820 732
85 Christian Qvist DEN 81 77 80 82 75 76 (88.0 DNF) 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNF 88.0 DNC 823 735
86 Richard Hart GBR 80 81 (88.0 DNF) 88.0 DNC 80 78 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 847 759
87 Richard Hirschler (J) HUN 68 (88.0 DNF) 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 BFD 80 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 88.0 DNC 852 764

Clubbing together

Hosting a major event such as a World Championship is a major operation, especially when it is for an Olympic class like the Finn.

The organiser and the man who’s hair has been turning prematurely grey this week has been Jakob Nybroe, 37, who has been a member of southwest Copenhagen's Vallensbæk Sailing Club since he was introduced by his parents aged “around 10 years old”. Nybroe has previously worked on other major events his club has hosted. These have included the 49er Europeans in 2005, the Laser Europeans in 2002 and the Tornado World Championship back in 1999, together with numerous local regattas and Danish championships for all flavours of dinghies and keelboats.

Impressively, he and co-organiser Michel Bernfeld head a group of around 40 running and making this event happen and all, including he and Bernfeld, are unpaid volunteers. Nybroe, for example, has a ‘proper job’ working in strategic procurement for the Danish building insulation giant, Rockwool, who’s base is 20 minutes from Vallensbæk. “I have had a very flexible employer who has allowed me to spend some time on this and work some late hours,” Nybroe admits. From the bar to the boats, some of the club’s juniors are on hand daily to help tired skippers retrieve their boats from the water while some older members sort out the endless food demands.

The vital on-the-water race management has been faultless and Nybroe says this is one area he wasn’t worried about before his event started. “They have done this so many times, so they know how important it is to get the course right and when you have to change, it has to be as quick as possible. They are a great team.”

That the event has been running like clockwork this week, both on the water, despite the varied conditions – balmy and warm at the beginning of the week, to wet, cold and generally more Northern European today – and off the water, is testament to not only the skill of Nybroe and his team, but also to the experience of those at the club.

“We have the old guard participating here as volunteers, but there is also a large group of people who have never participated before - that’s everyone from the bartender and the caterers to people on the water, doing the results, etc,” says Nybroe. “They have all basically taken a week out and been spending their time down here.”

What is perhaps not evident, even to those attending the event, is that Denmark has a strong ‘volunteer culture’. Generous support from its members at clubs like this is common in Denmark, much more forthcoming than it is in other countries. In a recent study by the Sports For All Commission it was calculated that the value of volunteer work in Denmark equated to 4.7 billion Euros per annum or the equivalent of just under 54,000 full time jobs.

In Vallensbæk Sailing Club’s case Nybroe says they do it for the pride their club derives from holding such a prestigious event as the Finn Gold Cup, particularly with a class so closely tied to Denmark.

Holding major events also creates good will with the town of Vallensbæk, from whom the organisers receive considerable support. At the Finn Gold Cup this year for example, the town provided the large entertainment tent and much of the logistical support such as signs, water and electricity on the camp site, etc. “It means they can use us as an example of how wonderful it is to live in the town. So I have a lot of press clippings to send to the mayor and he will be very pleased to see those,” says Nybroe.

Local sponsorship has also played a part even though Denmark, like the rest of the world, is in the depths of a major economic crisis. In their case the local branch of the Nordea bank has stepped forward to offer support.

But the biggest benefactor this year has been Denmark’s Year of Sport. This backing has resulted in the Finn Gold Cup having been ramped up considerably in terms of its press and TV coverage. “We have really had a lot of journalists and photographers down this week, more than we usually see even for other bigger events,” says Nybroe. “That has been great, but it adds another dimension in terms of planning and organising.”

With the hardware supplied by TracTrac and the Danish Sailing Association now owning 150 GPS transponders with support from insurance company CODAN (part of Sun Alliance Group), ALL of the races at the Finn Gold Cup have been tracked, rather than just the final medal race. This is believed to be a first for any dinghy class. At today’s count 8,000 simultaneously watched the tracking on line. Many more are expected for tomorrow’s Top 10 grand finale at 1100 local time.

Nybroe is particularly proud of the facilities on offer ashore at the Finn Gold Cup. This has included discounted food, three meals a day for competitors as well as a free ‘wet bar’ issuing post-race pints of Tuborg to competitors, who instead prefer the free sandwiches setting upon them like locusts. “When we set out we wanted to make sure the onshore experience something would be a little bit extra for the sailors and I think we have succeeded,” says Nybroe.

As to future events Vallensbæk Sailing Club might host, Nybroe turns slightly ashen at the prospect. “We probably are, but to be honest, right now, I am focussed on this one! I’ll probably say never again but we’ll have to see what happens in a couple of year’s time.”

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