Today's winner Sander Willems
 

Today's winner Sander Willems

Dutch move ahead

Robert Deaves reports on day two of the Finn Gold Cup

Tuesday February 17th 2004, Author: Robert Deaves, Location: United States
Consistency is something that few here in Rio are managing to find. One person who did find it today was Dutch sailor Sander Willems who scored a second in race two and then won race three in very tricky conditions to lead the championship overnight. Second overnight is Denmark's Jonas Hoegh-Christensen who scored a 10th and a 9th, while lying third is reigning champion Ben Ainslie (GBR) who scored a 17th and a third.

Speed was the crucial element today, at least speed in the right direction. For many it was just a drag race to the corner and those who didn't come in drag ended up looking at far too many transoms. Today's races were sailed outside Rio Harbour with a magnificent view (when the cloud cleared for long enough) from Sugar Loaf Mountain down the coast along Copacabana Beach and onto Ipanema, and proved a testing time for all concerned with light and variable winds and a strong current across the course that caught many out. The windward leeward loop course was used.

Race two started after a postponement in 3-5 knots of breeze. Most of the fleet favoured the left on the first beat, although in general the leaders emerged from the right. It was a long slow beat against the tide, with many again fouling the weather mark. First round the weather mark was Gasper Vincec (SLO) followed by Richard Clarke (CAN), Guillaume Florent (FRA) and Karlo Kuret (CRO).

On the run the fleet went left, with Denmark's Jonas Hoegh-Christensen leading a group to the right. However the left was paying and Florent lead round the bottom mark followed by Holland's Sander Willems, who had moved up from 6th at the top mark, and a group of others tightly bunched including Belgium ace Sebastien Godefroid. By now the wind was up to 8 to 10 knots and virtually everyone was following the right hand side of the course and Florent maintained his lead to win the race on the following run followed by Willems and Godefroid.

The tide was even stronger for race three but the breeze had gone back to a fitful 4 to 6 knots, and in spite of an adverse tidal set on the start line, there were still two general recalls before the race got underway. Poland's Waclaw Szukiel made the best of the start to tack away immediately to the right and to round the first mark just behind Sander Willems, the UK's own Matt Howard and Othmar Mueller van Blumencron from Switzerland. Waclaw took the lead on the run to lead through the downwind gate.

On the final upwind leg, everyone headed inshore out of the tide, but an increase in pressure and backing in direction left those inshore scuppered. Willems regained the lead and led to the downwind finish to score an impressive win. The race was overly lengthened due to the wind gradually decreasing and the strong tide and made for some very frustrating racing for some.

Proceedings were slightly livened up by a bulk carrier deciding to cross the course area. The Chairman of the Jury Ralph Roberts tried showing it the yellow flag in an attempt to keep it off the course, but after a 360 degree turn, the captain decided to come through anyway!

It was certainly a tricky day's sailing with patchy and fitful breezes and a strong tide to content with. Many big names are well down the results list and very few people are finishing any sort of consistency. Only Jonas Hoegh-Christensen has managed to score all top 10 results and most of those inside the top ten have a high scoring race.

Winner of race two Guillaume Florent commented, "in the first race there was a bit more breeze and I was sailing fast in the right direction. I went right on the first beat and centre right on the second and it paid both times. Then for some reason I tried something completely different in the second race today, and it didn't work at all." Florent had a shocker in race three, finishing 53rd.

Defending Champion Ben Ainslie was relatively pleased with his day. A 17th in race two was out down to having the wrong rig settings after the breeze increased, but the speed returned for race three when he finished third. He commented: "a good day overall, as most people are having trouble here, so to get a third is good, but perhaps I didn't go hard enough right. In the first race today, apart from lack of speed, I kept getting forced left when the right paid and there wasn't much I could do about it. It was a very tough day out there."

Team mate Andrews Simpson, who finished third in Cadiz today scored a 36th and 16th, concurred: "boy it was hard out there. Even when you thought you were going the right way, things could turn against you. Just look at the results and see how many big names were finishing way down. But there's always tomorrow."

And tomorrow the racing continues with two more races and a better wind forecast.

More photos on the following pages

Results:

Pos Skipper Nat R1 R2 R3 Tot With disc
1 Sander E. Willems NED 17 2 1 20 3
2 Jonas Hogh-Christensen DEN 4 10 9 23 13
3 Ben Ainslie GBR 5 17 3 25 8
4 Mateuzs Kuzsneirewicz POL 3 16 7 26 10
5 Charlie Cumbley GBR 8 11 12 31 19
6 Richard Clarke CAN 11 4 19 34 15
7 Karlo Kuret CRO 6 13 17 36 19
8 Jaap Zielhuis NED 2 8 29 39 10
9 Michael Maier CZE 1 28 14 43 15
10 Marin Misura CRO 37 6 2 45 8
11 Sebastian Godefroid BEL 24 3 20 47 23
12 Soren Holm DEN 15 9 25 49 24
13 João Signorini BRA 21 21 8 50 29
14 David Burrows IRL 33 7 11 51 18
15 Stefan de Vries NED 9 20 24 53 29
16 Waclaw Szukiel POL 27 23 4 54 27
17 Bruno Prada BRA 7 40 15 62 22
18 Matt Howard GBR 25 25 13 63 38
19 Anthony Nossites AUS 30 14 23 67 37
20 Othmar Mueller Von Blumenvon SUI 28 39 5 72 33
21 Andrew Simpson GBR 20 36 16 72 36
22 Guillaume Florent FRA 19 1 53 73 20
23 Gasper Vincec SLO 44 12 18 74 30
24 Emilios Papathanasiou GRE 16 31 27 74 43
25 Ali Enves Adakan TUR 18 34 22 74 40
26 Johan Tillander SWE 14 35 28 77 42
27 Dean Barker NZL 32 5 44 81 37
28 Babicky Roman CZE 38 19 26 83 45
29 Bruger Christoph SUI 31 24 30 85 54
30 Rafael Trujillo Uillar ESP 45 37 6 88 43
31 Michele Marchesine ITA 12 43 33 88 45
32 Agustin Juarez Narrero ESP 29 29 32 90 58
33 Alejandro Colla ARG 41 41 10 92 51
34 Tapio Nirkko FIN 51 22 21 94 43
35 Bruno Ismael FRA 26 33 36 95 59
36 Tibor Pallay HUN 34 30 31 95 61
37 Balazs Hajdu HUN 23 38 38 99 61
38 Aaron O`Grady IRL 13 46 42 101 55
39 Luca Devoti ITA 39 27 35 101 62
40 Jorge Zarif BRA 10 47 48 105 57
41 Michael Fellmann GER 22 44 39 105 61
42 Youen Jacob IRL 46 15 45 106 60
43 Mike Milner CAN 43 26 40 109 66
44 Christopher Cook CAN DNF 18 37 55 18
45 Maurício Bueno BRA 36 45 34 115 70
46 Nenad Viali CRO 49 32 41 122 73
47 Henry Raul Boening BRA 40 42 46 128 82
48 Jorge Rodrigues BRA 35 50 47 132 82
49 Marco Aurélio de Sá Ribeiro BRA 42 52 43 137 85
50 Michael Ellen GER 47 49 50 146 96
51 Philippe Kahn USA 50 51 49 150 99
52 Robert Deaves GBR 48 53 51 152 99
53 Rodrick Casander NED RAF 48 52 100 48
54 Gustavo Pereira Vaitsman BRA 52 54 54 160 106

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