The second day of the Finn Gold Cup in Falmouth was an outstanding one for the British sailors as Ben Ainslie (GBR) won the opening race to take the overall lead while Ed Wright (GBR) dropped to second and Andrew Mills (GBR) had another good day to move up to third. The second race of the day was won by Chris Cook (CAN).
The big question for the sailors today was whether to favour the left or the right. With dark clouds, moderate to strong winds and intermittent rain all day, there were some big gains to be made by choosing the correct side. Race officer Peter Reggio was delighted that the 94 boat fleet got away cleanly on both starts at the first attempt, perhaps an indication that they didn't want to hang around any longer than necessary in the inclement conditions.
The left side was favoured on the first beat with overnight leader Ed Wright (GBR) leading round the top mark from Andrew Mills (GBR) and Anders Pedersen (NOR). Jonathan Lobert (FRA) then found more pressure on the right on the first downwind to take the lead at the gate from Ainslie and Wright.
On the second upwind, Ainslie and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) favoured the right side and rounded the top mark in the lead. Mills moved from third into second on the final downwind with Ainslie extending for a second race win to the overall lead of the championship.
Race four started very quickly with the left side again proving popular. This time Mark Andrews (GBR) led Ainslie round the top mark, but they went the wrong way on the first downwind, while Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) found more pressure in the right to round the gate ahead of Lobert and Chris Cook (CAN).
The second upwind sealed the fate of many with a big right hand shift as the clouds cleared. Cook was just under the leading bunch and lifted up to the mark to lead down the final run. Lobert went high and Postma went low, but Ainslie found a way through in third. At the finish, they were separated by no more than 20 boat lengths, with Cook taking a well deserved win from Lobert and Ainslie.
Ainslie said, 'It was really tough out there today, it was quite windy, a lot of rain and low visibility so it was a difficult day for everyone and physically a real challenge. In the first race a front came through with quite a big wind shift to the right hand side, and made it a little bit difficult, but that’s part of the challenge of sailing in these conditions. In the second race I went the wrong way, there was a big clump down the right hand side and also the wind shifted a little bit to the right. It was a difficult run but I managed to contain the loss and then catch up with the rest of the race so I overall I’m happy with my day. It was great racing out there despite difficult conditions.'
After a good day, Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN) moved up to fourth overall. 'It was pretty shifty out there, but actually pretty good racing. In the last race we got a big shift in the end and that kind of ended the race for most but I think pretty much the both races were fair. I got a terrible start in the first race but I managed to claw my way back and finished in fourth. The second race was pretty much the same story, but I lost a couple because of that big shift and had a sixth so it was a pretty good day, could have been a little better, but I’m pretty satisfied.'
Someone who also had a better day was Postma. 'Today we had two good races; it was interesting. I haven’t found my rhythm yet, but today was better. On the last run I let Ben through, sometimes you have to be gentleman! When the wind changed they put a change of mark but it was not clear where we should go so it was not really clear where the finishing line was, so I had a little bit of difficulty to find it.'
Race four winner, Cook said, 'On the first beat I thought that the right side was going to have something in it, I think it’s the typical thing that’s been happening in all the races is a little bit of left and a little bit of right, it’s just how you play your side. So I got to the top in decent shape, and I got to the right side of the run as fast as I could and the pressure filled in from there and it sort of set up the opportunity to round with the top guys. Then the second beat again I was worried about the right side and I was forced to the left gate, I was up quite a bit on the right so I just had to wait. I got in front just in time for that big right shift and then it was a nice easy reach on the way in.'
Lobert is up to fifth overall, 'In the first race I was leading at the downwind mark and on the second beat I didn’t manage very well. I lost a lot of places so I finished sixth. In the second race I was leading again, so I said this time I need to take care and not miss the shift, so I was playing more on the right hand side. I saw this rain coming on and then this light, stopping the rain so it means that usually it’s going to the right hand side so I was playing more on the right. But I was a little bit too much on the right so two guys managed to pass me at the top mark, then on the last downwind it was freaky because we didn’t see the finishing line so we were all looking around wondering where the finishing line was. I managed to end up second though so I am very happy with that.'
So after day two in Falmouth, The British team fill the top three places, while behind them the form is beginning to establish itself. Several top sailors had better results today so there could be a significant change after Tuesday's two races, again scheduled for 11.00. The forecast is for some sunshine, and strong winds. At least some in the already tired fleet will be thankful for the sunshine.