Ben Ainslie (GBR) - 2008 Sail Melbourne
Olympic selection and the prospect of great sailing conditions have attracted an unexpected high number of competitors to the 2008 Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne. The registration closed today at Black rock Yacht Club after 85 Australians and international sailors have completed their full boat measurement. Flags from 33 countries are flying around the yacht club compound putting the Black Rock Yacht club in real competition mode.
The third and last day of measurement led by International Finn measurer Juri Saraskin and Andre Blasé was concluded by a practice race attended by a few sailors while most added the last touches to their boat.
Many sailors have enjoyed the summer season to train in Australia over the last 2 months; however other sailors had to postpone their training and preparation in Melbourne while gathering funding for their campaign.
Class newcomer, Johnny Bilbao from Venezuela made it just in time…but without his luggage and sails lost in transit, somewhere between Carracas, Miami, LA and Melbourne! Finn sailors proved once again they haven’t lost their sense of friendship, Czech Michael Maier lent a sail while Australian measurer and OK dinghy sailor Andre Blasé brought his bag of sailing gear.
Last but not least, Jake Gunther Finn and Etchell sailor had generously lent his boat and mast to Johnny who will be able to start in the regatta with the objective to qualify his country for the Olympics. The Venezuelan is a new recipient on the Finn development programme (FIDeS) which also include Indian sailors Nachhatar Johal and Nitin Mongia.
As usual the British team is well represented. While Ben Ainslie and Ed Wright are among the favorites for the Finn Gold Cup, Giles Scott is tipped to win the Silver Cup from Junior World Champion: Jan Kurfeld, Germany. Only 8 Junior’s will compete for the Silver Cup after last years fleet of 50 boats in Moscow.
The Finn Gold Cup will be the first selection regatta for the five Chinese sailors in contention for their Olympic berth in Qingdao. After the Gold Cup, the Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres and a series of regattas in China will conclude the selection process.
The racing is scheduled to start with two races on Wednesday.