The 43 Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE regatta ended with a blast, solid winds, sunshine and great sailing.
For Ben Ainslie (GBR), the regatta leader, the medal race was a formality to complete the series, but there was plenty still at stake behind him. In the end, nothing actually changed in the medals with Zach Railey (USA) taking silver and Chris Cook (CAN) the bronze after an eventful medal race.
With huge seas and winds touching 20 knots, it was a great end to what has generally been a light wind regatta. Zach Railey (USA) led the fleet to the windward mark followed by Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) and Andrew Mills (GBR). Zbogar took the lead on the downwind only to lose it to Mills on the second beat.
Mills held onto the lead on the final epic downwind to the finish, with Ben Ainslie (GBR) moving up from sixth at the first windward mark to second at the finish. Zbogar crossed in third.
As the finishing order stood, Railey had the silver and Mills the bronze. However, at the start five boats had been scored OCS (has that ever happened before in a medal race?) Ainslie was out, so was Zbogar and so was fourth placed Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN). This left Railey, who was fifth across the line, in second to win the silver medal, and Chris Cook (CAN), who crossed sixth, in third to take the bronze medal. The points gap that Mills thought he had produced vanished into Finn air.
Also disqualified as early starters were Daniel Birgmark (SWE) and Matthias Miller (GER).
Mills said, 'I had a good start, went right, and was third at top mark, and second at the leeward gate. It was awesome conditions downwind, big waves with the shallow water close to shore. I managed to get into first up the second beat then hold on for the last run.'
'It was nice to finish with a fun race, but a bit frustrating to finish having got five boats between myself and Cook only to find four of them were OCS and I had not got the bronze. On the water I thought I had all the boats in the right position to get the bronze, so it's a bit frustrating.'
Ainslie retains his Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE title by 17 points. He summed up his regatta, 'It’s a real boost after a very difficult period so I’m very happy with the way I’ve been sailing and things in general, and my body seems to have held up reasonably well. I’m happy but there’s a lot of work to do yet in the coming months in the build-up to the Games and I’ll keep pushing to try and get better and be better prepared.'
Eighth placed Høgh Christensen said, 'I wouldn't say that Ben has been as dominant as the results look, but he has made almost no mistakes in a very tricky week. But if you want to beat Ben and the top guys you have to do better. Train more, harder and get better.'
'In general I am happy with my performance. I am at 103 kg right know which is probably 8-10 more than Ben, Daniel and Zach, so keeping up with them in a week sailing in eight knots or less is pretty good. As it's Olympic year where people are training harder and working more on their gear. We decided to stick with a M-1 and my old boat and that worked. My speed was good, up and downwind.'
As one of the few correct starters today, Dan Slater (NZL) moved up to fifth overall said, 'This week has been OK for me. I sailed well to get out of some bad starts and come back. I normally like the shifty conditions but with the waves it's been really difficult this week. But it's been tough for everyone and Ben has made it look easy. He has started well all week and got the first beats right to be in the hunt almost every race. Each race the leader at the top mark has come from hard one side and I was no exception in the race I won. It's been a regatta for the edges and it's not really my style to get to far out to the sides and maybe that's why my first beats haven’t been that great.'
The fleet now has a two week break before gathering again at Hyeres in France for the Semaine Olympique Francais and leg 4 of the 2012 ISAF Sailing World Cup. Railey takes the lead in the Sailing World Cup standings from Høgh Christensen and Caleb Paine (USA).
Results after medal race (medal race position in brackets)
1 GBR 3 Ben Ainslie 43 (OCS)
2 USA 4 Zach Railey 60 (2)
3 CAN 41 Christopher Cook 76 (3)
4 GBR 85 Andrew Mills 77 (1)
5 NZL 1 Dan Slater 89 (5)
6 SWE 11 Daniel Birgmark 96 (OCS)
7 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 101 (OCS)
8 DEN 2 Jonas Høgh-Christensen 104 (OCS)
9 POL 7 Rafal Szukiel 125 (4)
10 GER 151 Matthias Miller 140 (OCS)
International Finn Association website
by Robert Deaves
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6:41 PM Sat 7 Apr 2012GMT
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2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup
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