At the Finn European Championship, a second race win for Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) in the only race sailed Friday gives him a useful seven point advantage going into Saturday's medal race in Warnemünde, Germany. Ed Wright (GBR) finished in second to retain title hopes, while there is now a 17 point gap to the bronze medal position, which is now occupied by Andrew Murdoch (NZL) for the first time this week.
The day dawned windless again and the sailors waited ashore until AP was finally lowered at 14.00 with a sea breeze of 8-10 knots in place. For a while it promised more than it delivered. Only one race was sailed again, with the second being abandoned as the wind started to drop and shift. The feet was sent back in at just after 17.00.
It took an age to get the fleet away for race 8, with the black flag still hoisted after yesterdays' failed attempts. The fleet gave the race team the run-around with early starts being postponed. Eventually a start was let run and 16 boats were black flagged after a general recall. On the restart another eight were black flagged. Casualties included fourth overall Jonathan Lobert (FRA), sixth overall Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) and eighth overall Alican Kaynar (TUR).
The race was very similar to Thursday's only race with the leading pair of Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) and Ed Wright (GBR) up the front for a 1, 2 finish. Wright was first round the top mark from Oliver Tweddell (AUS), Alican Kaynar (TUR), Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) and Zbogar. Zbogar destroyed the fleet on the first downwind to round with a gap on Wright with Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) in third followed by Kljakovic Gaspic and Andrew Murdoch (NZL).
Wright closed right up on the next upwind and rounded right on Zbogar's stern. However Zbogar soon built another gap downwind and while Kljakovic Gaspic passed Postma, it was Postma who picked up third place. Tweddell ended up third with Murdoch fifth, enough to move into the bronze medal position.
Surprisingly, none of the black flagged sailors dropped out of the top 10 which in terms of sailors remains unchanged for the medal race, though the order has changed. Zbogar needs to finish within three boats of Wright to secure his first major Finn title. Behind them the battle for bronze is realistically between Murdoch, Postma and Josh Junior (NZL), while Kljakovic Gaspic still has an outside chance.
The biggest problem is the forecast with little more than four knots of wind forecast all day, and with heavy cloud cover as well the chance of a sea breeze is small. Those who are supposed to know these things are shaking their heads saying racing is unlikely...
Postma explained his day, 'It was quite light winds but we had pumping as the wind picked up later so it was quite intense pumping in nine to ten knots and big shifts so the whole fleet was quite spread so you had to plat first the left then fully to the right and on the second beat you had to play the right. It was exciting but the top guys Vasilij and Ed, in first and second, have a big lead lead for tomorrow. It will be exciting for third place. I'm looking forward to it.'
In the Juniors Jake Lilley (AUS) placed sixth to close the gap on Peter McCoy (GBR) to just 17 points, while Lennart Luttkus (GER) remains in third. Lilley said, 'I had a pretty average start today and then managed to sail fast and clean through the fleet. I was pretty quick downwind and managed to come away with a sixth which was good.'
On the Junior title, he said, 'There are about 17 points to my good mate Peter from Great Britain so we'll see. It's a tough ask, and we'll see what happens but I'll give it my best and hopefully come away with the win.'
Murdoch has leapfrogged past his team mate Junior to occupy third position. He said of today, 'Today was a pretty tough again with pretty similar conditions to yesterday. I had a terrible day yesterday so it was good to redeem myself. And for tomorrow things look pretty tight for third. I have a really long shot for second but I need to win and Ed needs a shocker. Obviously I will be wearing the bib tomorrow but that doesn't really mean a thing until the medal race is finished, so we should have a good battle for third.'
Zbogar is the favourite for the title. He said, of today's race, 'The race was very similar to yesterday's especially at the beginning. I just kept it really conservative and played the middle of the fleet on the first upwind and it worked out as I rounded top five which is always my goal. I had the advantage of my boat speed downwind, which is really good, especially this regatta, and just tried not to take risks and it worked today anyway.'
On the medal race,'I just have to keep Ed behind me and try to probably match race him and hopefully he will end up behind me.'
So the medal race line up looks like this:
Vasilij Zbogar – double Olympic Laser medalist, sixth in the Finn at at London 2012 and second at last year's Europeans. Has been in control here since day one and despite a few gear breakages has sailed his best series in the Finn ever. The smart money are backing him for his first major Finn title.
Ed Wright – World champion in 2010 and European Champion in 2006, he has been one of the very few sailors here that have been consistent over the whole week. Traditionally good in medal races so stands a good chance but realistically needs Zbogar to slip up to win.
Andrew Murdoch – Switched to the Finn this year after two Olympics in the Laser, so heaps of experience in this situation. Only has a two point margin which means he has to beat Postma and be within two boats of Junior to take the bronze.
Pieter-Jan Postma – Flamboyant on and off the water and perhaps the most popular sailor on the circuit, he's had an up and down week. Placed fourth in London 2012 after an emotional last race and certainly a good chance to snatch the bronze on Saturday.
Josh Junior – First year in the Finn and already making his mark. Won a race earlier this week and took the bronze in Hyeres this year. Slipped up in the last few races but clearly a talent for the future in the Finn class.
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic – Double European Champion in 2009 and 2010. Fifth in the Olympics, but not been competing much this year after illness and time out. Always a clever sailor though, but perhaps too much to do here to win a medal. A black flag disqualification today didn't help.
Max Salminen – Won the gold in the Star as crew for Freddy Lööf last year and then switched to the Finn. Still young but clearly showing potential in his first full season.
Jonathan Lobert – The bronze medalist from the 2012 Olympics he has yet to medal at any major Finn Championship. A black flag today destroyed any chance of a medal here as well, but he loves the medal race situation and won the race at the Olympics last year to secure the bronze medal.
Thomas Le Breton – A mixed series so far but closed out with some good races to pull himself back into the top 10.
Alican Kaynar – Hasn't produced form this good since last year's light wind Europeans where he was 12th and won a race.
The championship concludes on Saturday with the medal race for the top 10 scheduled for 11.00, followed by the final race for the rest immediately afterwards. The medal race will be recorded on stern mounted cameras.
Top 10 after eight races:
1 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 24
2 GBR 11 Ed Wright 31
3 NZL 16 Andrew Murdoch 48
4 NED 842 Pieter-Jan Postma 50
5 NZL 24 Josh Junior 54
6 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 63
7 SWE 33 Max Salminen 72
8 FRA 1112 Jonathan Lobert 73
9 FRA 29 Thomas Le Breton 66
10 TUR 21 Alican Kaynar 59
1 GBR 29 Peter McCoy 176 (23rd overall)
2 AUS 41 Jake Lilley 193 (25th overall)
3 GER 64 Lennart Luttkus 285 (39th overall)
Click here for full results
by Robert Deaves
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9:25 PM Fri 26 Jul 2013GMT
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