Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) has taken a six point lead going into the final qualification day of the 2013 Finn European Championship in Warnemünde, Germany, after winning the only race sailed on day four. Ed Wright (GBR) moves up to second while Josh Junior (NZL) is up to third.
The patience of the sailors was tested yet again on day four of the championship as the fleet was held on shore all morning following an overnight change in the weather that brought rain and cloud to the area. Finally just as everyone was giving up hope the cloud cleared the sun came out and a light sea breeze began to establish itself. The AP flag was removed at 14.30 and the 100 boat fleet set out for a first start at 15.50 in around 6-8 knots of wind.
Race seven turned into a game of snakes and ladders with some large shifts and tricky conditions. Someone good at finding ladders was championship leader Vasilij Zbogar (SLO). Rounding the top mark in fourth he took the lead on the first downwind and then proceeded to sail away from the fleet for a big win.
Oliver Tweddell (AUS) rounded the top mark first from Mark Andrews (GBR), Michael Jodlowski (POL) and Zbogar. Jodlowski and Tweddell managed to stay out of trouble to finish in third and fifth, while Andrews missed the big shift on the second beat to finish in 16th. Jonathan Lobert (FRA), fifth at the top also had problems on the second beat and dropped to 19th at the finish. However his team mate Thomas Le Breton (FRA) after rounding the gate in 37th, struck out to the right, found the new wind and made big gains to finish in second.
However Zbogar was long gone and finished several minutes ahead of the fleet and crossed the line even before Le Breton had rounded the downwind mark before the reach to the finish. Tweddell crossed third and Ed Wright (GBR) finished fourth.
Le Breton said: “I had a very bad start and some trouble with a German guy and but I kept fighting and on the second upwind I had a good right shift. I was following my wind but I think I had more wind than the other side, so I came back very well. It was good but a bit lucky for sure, but unlucky for others.”
Wright, who won the Europeans in 2006, has now moved up to second overall. “Today was a really tricky day out there, but it managed to pull me into second place overall which is good going into the last day of qualifying. The biggest part was the second beat. A lot of the top guys all sailed on a right hand shift which sailed us a long way out of it but luckily I was far enough ahead, and rounded the top mark ahead the group but which gave me a nice cushion.”
The race team tried valiantly to start race eight, but after around half a dozen attempts with the sea breeze starting to clock round they hoisted AP over A and sent the fleet back to harbour. It was 18.00 and the sailors were tired and hungry.
In the Junior Championship, the points gap has closed with Peter McCoy (GBR) still leading, but by only 30 points from Jake Liley (AUS), who had a better result today. Lennart Luttkus (GER) has moved into third. McCoy said, “I had a good start, oscillating shifts on the first beat and I had a good downwind and then on the second upwind it went right pretty hard and I was stuck on the left hand side so I lost a few boats. I was happy how I was going earlier in the week and hope to get some good races in tomorrow.
“I've just come back from the Junior Worlds on Lake Garda where we had a really good event. I finished just outside the medals in fourth but sailing here against the seniors is taking it up to the next level, so it's pretty tricky but it's good to be up amongst them have have some good racing.”
Zbogar now has a six point jump on the fleet going into the final races. On today he said: “I didn't get the best start but about 10-15 seconds after the start I was able to tack and had free wind. The boat speed was extremely good today and I was gaining all the time on the rest of the fleet. I rounded the mark conservatively in fourth place and had a very good run and the was first at the bottom and then had a nice lead which was extending until the finish. I was just by myself so nobody near me and it was very easy to play the waves."
With a smile he said, “It was good to finish in one piece.” He has suffered from gear failure twice this week already. “When I had the big lead I was saying to myself 'what will break today?' I was a little big unlucky this week with the materials but I am enjoying it. I enjoy racing and think I am racing quite good and hope for the top. Tomorrow is a big day. Maybe we have three races so everything to play for but after today's win I am quite confident.”
Racing continues Friday at 12.00 with three races scheduled before the final race and medal race for the top 10 on Saturday.
Full results here