Another mixed up day at the 2012 Finn Europeans in Scarlino, Italy brought wins for Slovenia and Croatia, but Italy ended the day in pole position. A second race win for Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) and a first win for Ivan Klajkovic Gaspic (CRO) significantly improved their championship chances, but it is Filippo Baldassari (ITA) who holds a narrow overnight lead into Friday's final opening series races. Zbogar is in second, while Giorgio Poggi (ITA) is in third.
The fleet had another long wait on the water before race four could get under way. Eventually the committee boat moved further offshore where a nice 7-8 knot wind was waiting. After a general recall it got away under black flag. The left side seemed to be favoured with reigning Junior European Champion Josip Olujic (CRO) rounding ahead of Thomas Le Breton (FRA), Alican Kaynar (TUR) and Giorgio Poggi (ITA).
Le Breton took the lead on the first downwind and looked to have the race win in the bag, still leading with just 100 metres to the finish. But Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) had gone wide to the right on the final downwind and came in with a nice shift to win by less than a boat length. Olujic crossed in third.
Race five got under way after the mandatory general recall and black flag with lots of different faces leading at the top mark. First round was Eduard Skornyakov (RUS) from Johal Nachhatar (IND), Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) and Florian Raudaschl (AUT). Mitakis took a narrow lead downwind to round the opposite gate almost level with Nachhatar.
Everything changed on the second beat, with much more pressure on the right. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) rounded about tenth and took a long port tack before crossing back in front of the entire fleet. Mitakis on the left just recovered enough to round in second. Kljakovic Gaspic extended downwind in the lightening breeze to pick up the race win, while Mitakis just held off the fast approaching Flippo Baldassari (ITA).
A third race was attempted but was abandoned half way up the first beat as the wind started to finally fade away.
The results after five races look like a different regatta to yesterday. The top three this morning are now 8, 9 and 10 after some shocking results; overnight leader Rafael Trujillo (ESP) picked up a 21 and 20 to drop to eighth. But a string of consistent results has moved Baldassari from tenth to first, Zbogar rises from eighth to second and Poggi climbs from ninth to third.
In the juniors, Michal Jodlowski (POL) has extended his lead to 19 points after an excellent seventh in race five, while Dimitar Vangelov (BUL) has consolidated with two more great results to stay in second. Meanwhile, Junior World Champion, Arkadiy Kistanov (RUS) had a better day to climb to third, some 32 point further back.
Kljakovic Gaspic summed up his day, 'It's been a crazy week so far; really bad for me. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong, so I hope that's my bad luck for the whole year.'
On his race win, 'I saw on the downwind a bit more pressure over on the right and when we rounded I saw the bearing was from the left. I was basically clear on the right, no one was near me. I just have the Turkish guy but half way up he tacked and I was clear so when I looked, I decided I had nothing to lose. I didn’t want another tenth, so I had to take chances and I hoped for a big right shift, but what happened was just pure breeze and I think the left lost it for a few minutes and I just made up the distance.'
'There's still a few races to go and everything is possible. The points are very close, and everyone is high on points. So I'll never give up and will sail my best until the end.'
The distinctly un-European Nachhatar was really pleased with his day, 'I have been trying for good starts but, I have been struggling when it's under 5-6 knots and choppy, but when the race started it was eight knots and I think I was set up perfectly for those conditions. I had a good start, but I think I peeled off at the right time. I started from the left but then I tacked and ducked two boats and then I was crossing everyone else so I kept on going, and then just played the shifts. But the tough part was the downwind, I was hoping to hold and I am so happy I managed to do that. That was nice but on the second beat I played conservatively and dropped a few boats.'
'But fifth or 15th doesn’t matter so much to me. I am just happy with the work that I have done in the last month with Gasper and Rafa in La Linea. That's what I am really happy with. We trained there for a month. I am not worried about my results here, just that the feeling in the boat is better; that's more important for me than the regatta.'
After winning his second race Zbogar commented, 'I feel a little bit better than yesterday as I made a few big mistakes yesterday. But today the boat was going a bit better especially when the wind picked up a little bit. The sail and the setting was incredible and the boat was very fast.'
'In the first race it was a very close finish. When I got some wind I was flying and I was very confident I could pass Thomas. I already had a yellow flag so I had to be very careful, I was very still and didn't move anything, but I was confident I could pass him. Then in the second race the last downwind was really light. I was in about sixth and I ended up tenth after the wind dropped and I thought we were not going to finish the race but it's good we had two races today.'
'There are a lot of guys very close now, so I just need to sail a good race and try to let the others make bigger mistakes than me.'
Le Breton admitted, 'I was just focussing on my speed and Vasilij was a bit more on the right and had some good wind down to the line. I was a bit in trouble with the Croatian behind me, but it's OK. Second place in a shifty wind like that is a good place. It's not super easy in these conditions. You have to be really focussed, but I have not been very consistent.'
Former double Junior European Champion Mitakis had a great day to move up to fourth overall, 'I had a good day today, but it was more about luck I think. The weather was really shifty. In both races I started on the pin and with good speed. and after some while I tacked over in good breeze. In the second race I was first through the gate and on the upwind I went to the left and it seems there was big right shift, but I got some breeze at the end and rounded in second behind Bambi. It would be nice to have some better conditions.'
The new regatta leader Baldassari said, 'It was another day of very shifty and gusty conditions. I am really happy with my results and hope to continue like this.'
Friday is the final day of the opening series, with three more races possible. With five races, the sailors now have a discard and the medal race will be sailed on Saturday for the top ten, while the rest of the fleet will sail a final race.
Results after five races 1 ITA 123 Filippo Baldassarri 22 2 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 23 3 ITA 117 Giorgio Poggi 27 4 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 27 5 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 30 6 EST 2 Deniss Karpak 35 7 AUT 3 Florian Raudaschl 35 8 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 38 9 RUS 9 Eduard Skornyakov 38 10 NED 842 Pieter-Jan Postma 41
Juniors 1 POL 13 Michal Jodlowski 58 2 BUL 855 Dimitar Vangelov 77 3 CZE 81 Arkadiy Kistanov 109