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Finn Gold Cup - Ainslie applies the pressure

'Finn Gold Cup 2008 - Jonas Christensen (DEN)'    Jeff Crow/ Sport the Library ©

Series leader Dan Slater of New Zealand is feeling the pressure after two more races sailed Sunday in the Finn Gold Cup. Ben Ainslie is now tied on points with Slater in first place.

2005 World Champion and World #1 sailor, Jonas Hoegh-Christensen is only five points behind the leader after a sixth and a victory in the last race. 2007 World vice-champion, Pieter-Jan Postma capitalised on the windier conditions today with a 1st and a 2nd place bringing the Dutch into serious contention for the title, one point behind the Dane and six from Slater.

Greek sailor Emilios Papathanasiou has slipped from 3rd to 8th overall after collecting a second disqualification on the first race and placing 36th on the second.

Race 6 started with a 12 knots unsettled sea breeze. The start was delayed on the water to adjust to the wind shifts. After a general recall, the race started under black flag very close to the shore - too close for Michael Maier’s liking. “I capsized before the start and I broke my mast on the reef”, complained Maier back ashore.

The pin end was favoured but the fleet quickly crossed to the right. All but Dan Slater who decided to continue under the cliff to the left side. “It just kept getting worse! Then there were not many opportunities to pass. I must have gained a few boats downwind”, but not enough for the New Zealander, who collected more points in this race than all the others combined!

Pieter-Jan Postma leaded the race from start to finish. Marin Misura (CRO) collected his first top ten results crossing the line in second place in front of Rafal Szukiel (POL). Ainslie finished eighth, Ed Wright (GBR) was 26th.

Finally, the strong conditions expected for so long found their way to Port Phillip Bay. The wind had increased to 18/20 knots for the second race sailed with Oscar flag and a triangle course.

Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) headed the fleet to the top mark then kept increasing his lead to the finish. “The regatta is really open now, I look forward tomorrow and more breezy races” declared the Dane. Pieter-Jan Postma was second in front of Ed Wright and Ben Ainslie. Gasper Vincec (SLO) who has collected irregular results was fifth on the finish with Dan Slater sixth.

“The other guys are coming into the loop too. It isn’t just between Ben and I, many are in the game. With another race and then the medal with double points, we still have a long way to go!” declares Slater when asked about being on equal points with Ben Ainslie.

Monday’s last fleet race will see a fight to qualify among the top 10 for the medal race.

British junior Giles Scott is on 81 points in 12th place. Current World Champion Rafael Trujillo (ESP) is racing well below his habitual form in 14th place.

The battle for Olympic qualification is going on with the 6th and last place strongly fought for. Ali Kemal Fekci (TUR) is getting closer to qualifying Turkey for the last spot after a good day placing 10th in the first race. Fekci has gained 9 places on the overall qualification in 35th position and 6th “unqualified nation”. However, Olexei Borisov from Ukraine, only 6 points behind is his most direct threat.

In the Junior division, the top 3 remain unsettled with Giles Scott well ahead in 12th position. Piotr Kula (POL) is 2nd Junior in 36th and Federico Melo 3rd in 42nd overall. Current Junior World Champion, Jan Kurfeld gained 5 places today to still be in contention for the podium.

One last fleet race is scheduled for Monday afternoon. Tuesday will be the championship final day with the Medal Race planned to start after the last race for those sailors placed 11th or more.

Finn - Leading scores after 7 races, 1 discard

1 NZL1 Dan Slater 6 [32.00] 16 3 4 1 1 31 pts
2 GBR3 Ben Ainslie 4 8 1 [18.00] 1 13 4 31 pts
3 DEN2 Jonas Christensen 1 6 6 11 [14.00] 4 8 36 pts
4 NED842 Pieter Jan Postma 2 1 7 [20.00] 13 3 11 37 pts
5 CAN41 Chris Cook 13 [26.00] 2 1 5 19 15 55 pts
6 SWE736 Johan Tillander 11 4 20 9 [48.00] 6 9 59 pts
7 GBR111 Edward Wright 3 [24.00] 15 4 6 11 21 60 pts
8 GRE7 Aimilios Papathanasiou 35 [83.00F] 4 7 11 2 6 65 pts
9 CRO524 Ivan Kljakovic 9 19 12 5 9 12 [26.00] 66 pts
10 AUS221 Anthony Nossiter 19 [30.00] 9 21 3 15 10 77 pts
11 NOR1 Peer Moberg 23 [29.00] 13 6 21 10 5 78 pts
12 GBR41 Giles Scott 8 13 11 16 [31.00] 5 28 81 pts
13 FIN218 Tapio Nirkko 21 9 24 13 8 [44.00] 7 82 pts
14 ESP100 Rafael Trujillo 12 17 8 17 19 16 [42.00] 89 pts
15 SLO5 Gasper Vincec 5 38 3 29 12 14 [54.00] 101 pts
16 POL7 Rafal Szukiel 24 3 30 8 15 24 [32.00] 104 pts
17 CRO25 Marin Misura 30 2 10 39 16 [58.00] 14 111 pts
18 GBR625 Ed Greig 7 15 17 31 27 [38.00] 22 119 pts
19 POL12 Waclaw Szukiel 27 28 23 14 17 [45.00] 19 128 pts
20 FRA73 Guillaume Florent 39 11 5 23 [62.00] 31 20 129 pts
21 GBR88 Mark Andrews 36 18 19 10 [59.00] 35 16 134 pts
22 ITA101 Riccardo Cordovani [34.00] 12 28 28 30 18 18 134 pts
23 SWE11 Daniel Birgmark 14 25 27 15 [42.00] 20 33 134 pts
24 ITA117 Giorgio Poggi 33 36 26 32 [45.00] 7 3 137 pts
25 RUS9 Eduard Skornyakov 10 [35.00] 29 22 32 33 12 138 pts

by Corinne McKenzie


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10:53 AM Sun 27 Jan 2008 GMT

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