Saturday, 15 May 2010

Trujillo leads tight fleet into medal race

After two more late races at the Finn European Championship, the 2007 World
Champion Rafa Trujillo (ESP) goes into Sunday's medal race with a two point
margin over the 2006 European Champion Ed Wright (GBR). Daniel Birgmark
(SWE) who was leading going into Saturday, ended the day in third.

Mathematically nine boats can win after the medal race, but realistically it
will be one of the top five or six, though all nine have a good chance of
taking a medal, with just 15 points separating them.

Saturday started with thunderstorms, heavy wind and rain and a two hour
postponement. Race five was important to get in as five races were needed to
be able to hold a medal race.

Starting at the third attempt in 10 knots, the left side proved to be the
best with a 15 degree shift coming through about half way up. The 2009
Junior European Champion Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) made the best of the shift to
round the top mark ahead of Peer Moberg (NOR), Trujillo, Ed Wright (GBR),
Marko Kolic (ITA) and Dan Slater (NZL).

Moberg said, "It was really exciting. I had a good start and the wind turned
a bit to the left. I was in the middle left and come up to second and fought
with the Greek guy [Mitakis] all the way to round the top mark second."

"I was playing the shifts in the middle and suddenly I got the left shift
and just kept on going. Some guys overstood the mark, so I just tacked under

Mitakis said, "In the first race I went left and rounded first. I am a bit
slow downwind and Moberg passed me easily and then I got past him upwind and
he did the same downwind." Moberg went on to take the win followed by
Mitakis, Slater and Wright.

The second race looked doubtful for a while as the wind dropped and several
starts failed. Finally the fleet got away at 17.40. Wright and Ivan
Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) went hard right while others played the shifts on the
left. A late left shift cost Wright and Kljakovic Gaspic a lot of ground and
the top group rounded close together with Kljakovic Gaspic leading Mitakis,
Caleb Paine (USA), Wright, Tapio Nirkko (FIN) and Jonathan Lobert (FRA).

By the leeward gate, Andrew Mills (GBR) had taken the lead. He said, "I
started in the middle of the line, went left, which looked good for a bit
then everyone came in from the right. I rounded about 20th and had a nice
run. I went down the left and had more pressure and rounded the bottom in
first. I chose the other gate to Ivan and had good numbers out to the left
so kept going."

This time the left paid. "I went quite a long a long way and then tacked and
the wind picked up and I crossed ahead. I am quite fast in that stuff. And
the last run was quite good fun. I enjoyed it a lot, especially with that
much of a lead. Ivan was going quite quick, but it was too much of a gap for
him to catch up."

Oscar flag for free pumping was raised for the last downwind as a rainstorm
came through and the sailors enjoyed being able to stretch out and sail
hard. During the day storms had been passing on all sides of the course, but
until then the fleet had escaped.

Moberg didn't fair so well in the second race. He is using one of the new
North NZ Dacron sails, developed by Slater. "I thought it would be windy so
I changed sailed between races to my strong wind sail and it's a little flat
and it was too choppy. But I am testing equipment right now so that's OK.
The new Dacron sail is very good. I think it will last for a long time, so
the costs for sailors will come down."

He is very happy to make the top 10, "For me top 10 is everything so I can
get some funding for next year."

Mitakis has retained his Junior European title with a race to spare. "I am
happy to win the Juniors again and I am looking forward to the Silver Cup
[World Juniors] in San Francisco." Sunday's final race will decide silver
and bronze positions. Currently Luke Lawrence (USA) sits in 32nd place, 14
points ahead of Caleb Paine (USA).

Trujillo leads the fleet into the medal race. "I am really happy I make it
to fifth. I was third, but was being careful downwind as I already had a
yellow flag. The second race was really bad. I rounded 27th, but chose the
right options and rounded the bottom mark 14th. I chose the right side,
played the pressure to finish fifth again. I am really happy to still be in
with a chance of the podium tomorrow."

He summed up, "It will be tight, like it always is in the Finn class."
Wright wouldn't say much but had clearly enjoyed the wind. "It's about time
we had some decent conditions."

Final showdown

The medal race for the top ten and the final race for the rest is scheduled
for 12.00 Sunday. It is going to be some fight to take the 2010 European
Senior title and all the sailors are more than up for it. It is wide open
and is going to be fascinating to watch.

Top 10 after six races

1 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 27
2 GBR 11 Edward Wright 29
3 SWE 11 Daniel Birgmark 31
4 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 31
5 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 32
6 FRA 115 Thomas Le Breton 39
7 NOR 1 Peer Moberg 41
8 CRO 25 Marin Misura 41
9 GBR 41 Giles Scott, 42
10 CRO 2 Mate Arapov 50

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