Giles Scott takes the lead in the Finns
Weymouth threw up yet more variety with the conditions for day four of Skandia Sail for Gold with a beautiful morning giving way to murky autumnal 10-15 knot conditions for the afternoon. It was a long, long day with the Laser Gold fleet only getting ashore at 20:30.
Today the fleets were separated into gold and silver and in some cases bronze.
For Skandia Team GBR the big story is that of talented 23 year old Finn sailor Giles Scott who in the last five races has posted a 1-1-4-3-2 and has now taken the lead by a point from France’s Jonathan Lobert. Ed Wright is now into third, followed by last year’s winner, Croat Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic with Ben Ainslie into fifth. The Brits have four sailors in the top 10.
“It’s great but I’ve got to be quite careful with that as I’ve got an OCS still so I can’t afford to have any mistakes tomorrow,” said Scott. “Hopefully I’ll be able to do the same as today. There is a bit of pressure on but hopefully I’ll be able to take it in my stride.”
Scott relishes the strong British competition in the Finn fleet. “It’s great. We’re all such good friends as well, we all train together, so I think we push each other quite hard and normally it ends up with us all somewhere around the top ten which is great.
“It is frustrating that only one of us will get to go to the Games, but the good thing about being such a strong nation is that if you do gain selection then you are going to a strong favourite going into the Olympics. You’ve got the best sort of people to train with.”
Scott insists he’s not phased by Ainslie’s Olympic pedigree. “I get asked that quite a lot – I try and ignore it as he’s just another Finn sailor to me!”
In the Star class, Ireland’s Peter O’Leary and Frithjof Kleen continue to dominate, but the former Finn sailor contingent are closing in with Swedes Freddie Loof and Johan Tillander only three points behind and reigning World Champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in fourth, 17 points from the leader, despite having lost their jib pole in the second race. Today’s two races were won by France’s Guillaume Florent and Pascal Rambeau and Brazilian Olympic veteran Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada.
Aboard the Elliott 6s in the Women’s Match Racing Australia’s Nicky Souter won the Gold Round Robins with three teams – those of Lucy Macgregor, Clare Leroy and Renee Groeneveld - tied in second. They have now moved into the quarter finals, where Macgregor and her team of Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor are on the back foot with Laser Radial gold medallist Anna Tunnicliffe’s American crew of Molly Vandemer and Debbie Capozzi - 2-0 down in the first-to-three tie, with Macgregor receiving a -0.75 penalty for damage following a collision. Victory for either would put the other out of the running for the ISAF Sailing World Cup title.
“Positionally they were strong but we felt pretty good against them round the course so we’re gutted to have come away 2-0 down,” Macgregor explained. “The first match I think we were unlucky on two penalties and although we were sailing quickly around the course we couldn’t get rid of the last one.
“Then the second race just got really wacky. Again, we felt like we were sailing really well but got out of place in a couple of the shifts and just couldn’t quite catch them by the finish line. The matches are really crucial from here so we’ll be putting everything into it, having a good night’s rest and coming back fighting.”
In the 470 Men the top three boats have put some distance on those behind – recently crowned Australian World Champions Matt Belcher and Malcolm Page are a point ahead of France’s Pierre LeBoucher and Vincent Garos, with talented up and coming Brits Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell third, seven points off the lead. These three are now looking good for the podium with Nic Asher and Elliott Willis in fourth having won today’s second race, but some 24 points adrift of their young team mates following their dismasting earlier in the week. Another young British team are doing well in Ben Saxton and David Kohler who won today’s first race.
In the women’s class it is turning into a high scoring regatta with the young Spaniards Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos taking the lead, two points ahead of Japan’s Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata, the Dutch double World Champions Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout now down to third, four points from second. It was a good day for 2008 US World Champions Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving who scored two bullets today elevating them to sixth. Sadly Italy’s reigning European champions Guilia Conti and Giovanna Micol are out of the competition as Micol is ill.
The 49er is also seeing the podium beginning to take shape with the consistent French Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis continuing to hold pole now two points ahead of Australian Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen with Britain’s Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes a further six points behind but now with an 11 point cushion over the Italian Sibello brothers (who were DNF in today’s final race). It was a good day for the Austrian 2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup winners Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch, who scored bullets in today’s first two races, pulling them up to 8th overall.
Paul Goodison lost his overall lead in the Laser after Australian Tom Slingsby had his false start penalty from Wednesday’s racing overturned. The reigning Olympic and World Champion also had a disappointing day on the water posting a 21-16, admitting “if there was a prize for the number of boats passed then it would be mine for sure today. It was one of those days when it was all judged by one shift off the startline, and I was on the wrong side of the line.”
Slingsby is looking good for a repeat performance from last year when he dominated the Laser - he is now 31 points ahead of second placed Canadian Michael Leigh, the biggest lead in all the classes. In eight races Slingsby has scored five bullets.
In contrast the Laser Radial podium is still fully up for grabs with the top six boats within 10 points of lead. After today’s racing it is a France 1-2. Sarah Steyaert leads, two points ahead of team mate, Sophie de Turckheim, who would have been holding first were it not for an OCS in today’s final race. Newly crowned World Champion Marit Bouwmeester from Holland has been relegated to third, just a point from second after she sailed a terrible first race today coming home 26th.
Skandia Team GBR’s Nick Dempsey is demonstrating his love of Weymouth, leading the RS:X men by four points from France’s Julien Bontemps.“It was a really tough day today,” explained Dempsey. “Normally gold fleet racing is pretty tough but then you throw in some new conditions and it was really difficult. The race officer set a pretty difficult startline so it puts a bit more risk into it all and makes it hard to get off the line with a safe start. It was a solid day, I’m pretty happy. When it’s like that, it’s just a case of limiting the losses a little bit. You’ve just got to be patient.”
“I was hoping for some light winds to mix it up a little bit,” Dempsey continued, “but it doesn’t matter what you want – it’s what you get and you have to do it in whatever you get. That’s what we strive to do.”
In the RS:X Women there hasn’t been much change with Spain’s Blanca Manchon looking good, in pole a comfortable nine points ahead of France’s Charline Picon with Britain’s Bryony Shaw fourth, 15 points off the lead.
Three other classes finish their regatta tomorrow without the complication of a medal race. So we really are at the business end of the regatta for the Skud-18s, where the Australian pair of Daniel Fitzgibbon and Rachael Cox have been battling with GBR’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrel. The pair had traded first and second places until the final race of today, when Rickham and Birrel had a rudder problem and were forced to retire. It’s given the Aussies a four point advantage going into the final day.
In the Sonar class, the Dutch high-fliers, Udo Hessels and Mischa Rossen once again had their wings clipped by the British team of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stevie Thomas. The Brits had a great day with two thirds and a win, and are now just one point off the lead.
In the 2.4mR, France’s Damien Seguin and the Netherlands Thierry Schmitter continued their week long battle. Schmitter had got the advantage going into the final race, but then slipped to fifth, allowing Seguin to take back the overnight lead – this one looks like it will be settled in the final beat of the final race.
Full results here