Grand Prix Sailing – fans of foiling

Team Aqua come out on top

RC44 Sweden Cup in Marstrand, Sweden – Overall

 

 

Team Aqua has won the RC44 Sweden Cup for the second year in a row with a race to spare, on a day where the wind increased and the sea state made for some exciting downwind sleigh rides in Marstrand.

It was tight going into the final day of racing at the RC44 Sweden Cup, only 10-points separated the top four boats. Second placed Katusha (RUS) came out fighting, taking control of the first race of the day. They led from Artemis Racing at windward mark with Team Aqua (GBR) back in sixth place, but an early gybe by the British team saw them surf into third by the leeward gate. The positions didn’t change to the finish with Katusha taking the win from Artemis Racing and Team Aqua in third. It was getting tighter at the top.

Race two got underway with the breeze steadily increasing, gusting to over 20 knots. The leaders all opted for the left hand side on the first beat, but the right paid and it was the Russian pair, Team Nika and Synergy, who led at the windward mark. Aqua rounded sixth with Artemis Racing eighth and Katusha tenth. RUS 7 had been one of the lead boats before their mast came crashing down, snapping 1.5metres above the gooseneck. Downwind there were casualties also, Peninsula Petroleum broached, AFX Capital struggled to control their kite drop at the bottom gate.

 

 

 

But Team Aqua were relishing the conditions, on the first run they took four places to round second. On the final run Aqua kept the pressure on Team Nika and Chris Bake’s men surfed across the finish line to take the race win. Katusha and Artemis Racing moved up the rankings to finish fifth and sixth respectively, but Team Aqua had sealed the event with a race to spare.

After racing Team Aqua’s tactician, Cameron Appleton, disclosed the team had snuck in three extra days of practice ahead of the event in Sweden; it had blown 30 knots everyday. Their extra time on the water showed through their excellent boat handling and after his customary dunking in Marstrand Harbour Team Aqua’s owner Chris Bake (GBR) summed up the day. “It was awesome today, unbelievable. The boat was going like a bat out of hell. It was really hard. The upwind felt like three rounds with a sumo wrestler – trying to hold on to the wheel getting knocked around all over the place – it was hard work but a lot of fun.”

The race was now for second. Artemis Racing was tied for points with Katusha, whoever beat the other in the final race would take second, so long as they were no more than six places behind Hugues Lepic at the helm of Aleph Sailing Team.

Team Aqua asserted their dominance by leading the race from start to finish. Behind them places were changing. Half way up the first beat and Katusha tacked right on Artemis Racing, forcing the Swedish team to tack away. By the top mark Aleph was second, Katusha fourth and Artemis Racing back in ninth. After another dramatic run that saw Peninsula Petroleum’s kite explode, Aleph had dropped to third, Artemis Racing gaining one place to eighth. By the final gun, Steve Howe at the helm of Katusha with Andy Horton calling the shots had done enough to take second overall, just one-point ahead of Artemis Racing, who were in turn one-point ahead of Aleph. The French team just missing out on the podium.

 

 

Although disappointed not to have won on home waters, Artemis Racing’s owner Torbjorn Tornqvist still enjoyed another great day of racing in Marstrand. “It was fantastic out there; huge waves, big winds and we had some great moments of speed, clocking 23 knots at one point with the water flushing over us. It was fantastic.”

As for the overall RC44 Championship Tour each of the teams can now discard their worst event of the season. Team Aqua lose their fourth and count two firsts and a second. Artemis Racing are the only boat that can stop Chris Bake’s team being crowned RC44 Tour Champions for the second year in a row. The Swedish team need to win the Adris RC44 World Championship in two months’ time, with Aqua counting a fourth or worse to stand a chance of taking the Championship.

The final event of the season, which doubles as the classes World Championship, will take place in beautiful fishing town of Rovinj, Croatia from 3rd-7th October. Can Torbjorn Tornqvist and his Artemis Racing team take Team Aqua’s crown?

 

Overall Results: (13 races)

1 Team Aqua, 6 4 1 2 4 8 1 1 1 3 1 1 – 36pts
2 Katusha, 3 5 4 1 10 3 4 8 2 1 1 5 7 – 54pts
3 Artemis Racing, 1 2 3 5 3 1 2 11 7 4 2 6 8 – 55pts
4 Aleph Sailing Team, 8 8 2 3 1 7 5 2 3 2 5 7 3 – 56pts
5 Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team, 5 7 9 6 5 2 3 5 5 5 4 9 10 – 75pts
6 Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 4 6 7 7 8 6 7 4 10 6 10 3 4 – 82pts
7 Team Nika, 7 3 10 11 9 5 6 6 4 11 8 2 5 – 87pts
8 AEZ RC44 Team, 2 10 6 8 7 4 9 9 6 8 9 8 2 – 88pts
9 No Way Back, 9 9 5 10 6 9 11 3 8 10 6 4 6 – 96pts
10 RUS7 Sail Racing Team, 11 1 8 4 2 11 10 7 DNF 9 7 DNF DNS – 106pts
11 AFX Capital Racing, 10 11 11 9 11 10 8 10 9 7 11 10 9 – 126pts

 

For more details visit: www.rc44.com  All photos supplied by Martinez Studio

 

 

Enjoying every moment

 

Interview with Finn Class Olympic contender: Ivan Kjlakovic Gaspic 

 By Robert Deaves International Finn Class Association

 

 

 

Since he finished eighth at the 2008 Olympics, Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic has been doing some serious winning. In the last four years he has won two European titles, four ISAF Sailing World Cup events and countless races at these and other regattas. He has briefly risen to No.1 in the world rankings, and is currently the No. 3. He remains one of the best Finn sailors in the world and a favourite to medal at every regatta he enters.

Ivan, better known as Bambi, first emerged in the Finn in 2005. He took the Junior World title the same year and gradually climbed to the top of international fleet. Since then he has been a regular medal winner, but surprisingly has only ever medalled once at the Finn Gold Cup. He took the bronze in Vallensbaek, Denmark in 2009.

The main reason he cites for this was the number of big breeze venues, as he has generally been sailing at a lower than average weight. In spite of this he still made the medal race in 2010 and 2011, though he was never really in the title race. Perhaps importantly in terms of the Olympics he won the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in 2010 against some serious opposition.

In 2012, he has worked on his strong wind speed, resulting in a fourth place at the Finn Gold Cup in Falmouth, UK, after a very windy week. He now feels as complete a sailor as he has ever been. Though awed by the prospect of sailing in Weymouth, he is trying to keep a cool head and focus on the job in hand. “It is for sure the biggest regatta of my life and it is hard to be cool with it. Anyway I think it will be great event and I will enjoy sailing this one like the best ever. This time around the major difference for me it has been much easier. I am older and more experienced and better prepared. I have had great training and my equipment is really good. And in terms of others, let’s see what happens on the racing days.”

Like many competitors heading to the Olympics he has been struggling to get to grips with the Weymouth conditions, despite winning there in 2010. He says this is perhaps one of the reasons that sailors have favoured training there rather than doing regattas. “We all see Weymouth as a pretty special venue so we are trying to sail there as much as possible. But my preparations are already done so now I will just relax and wait for the gun.”

He claims not to have done much in the way of gear development, sticking to the gear he knows best. “I just use ordinary kit and use it as best as I can. I think too drastic equipment changes can give you a headache. I had some softer masts but now found a stiffer one to suit me better, especially in the stronger breeze.” He also thinks the advent of free pumping at 10 knots has had an effect on the rig design. “A bit stiffer mast gives you better power. So yes, there was a bit of focus on that.”

What of the future? “For sure sailing Finn is a great game for me but I will take short break after August. I’d like to do some big boats in the future and then come back in the Finn for Rio.” “I would like to see sailing becoming a more popular sport and bring it closer to public. I think we need to make it more interesting, lively and faster. Perhaps a more risky game.”

Some quick questions:

Q: What makes you want to compete at the Olympics so much?

A: The honour.

Q: Do you have any rituals or superstitions that you do before a regatta or before a racing day?

A: Yes, many, small ones…

Q: What special qualities does it take to be an Olympic campaigner?

A: I think it is determination and motivation.

Q: What has been the hardest part about the campaign this time around?

A: Money.

Q: Do you think Ben Ainslie going to win again?

A: He is great sailor but let’s see results on the last day… that is sport.

Q: What gear will you be using and why?

A: Simple. North Sails and Wilke because I like the feeling when I am using them.

Q: Excluding yourself, pick three of your favourites for a medal?

A: Vasilij Zbogar, Jonas Høgh-Christensen and Ben Ainslie.

Q: What is the biggest sacrifice you have made to be able to compete at the Olympics?

A: I gave up all my free time and I have to be away from my family for long periods of time.

Q: Top tips for racing at Weymouth?

A: Keep it simple and sail fast and smart.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most over the next few weeks?

A: Enjoying every moment of being an Olympian.

 

Crowns dished out at Copa del Rey

 

Final day of the 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre in Palma del Mallorca 

 

 

RAN seals second Copa del Rey win – c Jesus Renedo

 

The eight winners of the 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre regatta were determined after six days of very tight racing in the Bay of Palma. RÁN in IRC 0, Audi All4One in IRC1, Alegre in Soto 40, Swanderful in RI 1, Power Plate in RI 2, Marguerite – Jsteam in X-35 and Mapfre in J-80 were the teams to clinch victory. Two of the winning skippers repeat victory, Niklas Zennstrom and Gustavo Martínez Doreste, whereas the other five win for the first time.

The Bay of Palma provided a perfect finale on day 6, which started with northeasterly winds of 18 knots at the beginning of races, dropping to 12 knots during the day. Wind shifts of around ten degrees and almost flat seas made for the perfect challenge for aspirants to the crown.

Not even hitting the pin mark at the start of race one and sweeping it away could prevent RÁN from repeating victory after winning the 2010 edition. The IRC 0 division has delivered a magnificent show on the water thanks to the six mini-maxis, the full international fleet of the class, which have been on the water over the six days of races. The Swedish boat was third and second, and final day’s wins went to Jethou and Stig. Runner up of this 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre in the IRC 0 division is USA flagged Shockwave, followed by Italian Stig.

 

IRC 0 battle for overall honours between Shockwave and RAN – c Martinez Studio

 

In IRC 1 leaders Audi All4One and Audi Azzurra went into the final day tied on points to deliver high-adrenalin, heart-stopping action. Jochen Schumann and Guillermo Parada turned the day’s two races into a match race in which the Italo-Argentinean boat finished third, whereas the Franco-German skippered by Schuemann was fifth. This helped Parada’s crew scratch two points, but the following race was to change things again. At the start of race 2 All4One went looking the left hand side crossing the bow of the fleet. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team remained at the right hand side and hit a pothole, and by the time they caught air again, Schuemann skippering All4One was gone. The team finished three places ahead of former regatta leaders Audi Azzurra, which was enough to claim the trophy. Paprec finished second and Provezza finished third. With the overall regatta win on the line skipper Jochen Schuemann and tactician Jordi Calafat used the best of their Olympic and America’s Cup winning knowledge to hold the lead to the finish, and win their first Copa del Rey together as well as on their own. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team was second overall and Tony Langley’s Gladiator third. RR. HH. Felipe de Borbón skippered Aifos was fifth, after a tenth and an eighth place on day 6.

 

 

Jochen Schumenn’s Audi All4One wins first Copa del Rey in IRC 1 – c Xaume Olleros

 

The last day confirmed Swanderfull as the winner in the RI 1 division. José Caldeira’s Swan 45 becomes the first Portuguese boat and crew to ever win the Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre. The boat with Chuny Bermúdez calling tactics only clinched one individual race victory in this 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre, but her consistency throughout the race finally paid. This is the fourth Majorcan crown for Bermúdez, round the world sailor, who was followed in the podium by German Earlybird and Spanish Rats on Fire, all of them Swan 45 footers. Itaca IX of Manuel Gallego was fifth placed and winner of the Corinthian trophy. Power Plate found few rivals within the RI 2 fleet in this 2012 edition of the Copa del Rey. Back-to-back wins added to the three first places the Spanish boat had scored so far, claiming a well deserved victory with a 20 points advantage upon second classified Italian boat Volmer. Movistar of Pedro Campos was third, and Tanit IV, which finished fourth overall, was the winner of the Corinthian Trophy.

 

 

Alegre comes out on top in the 8 boat Soto 40 division – c Martinez Studio

 

In the very hotly contested Soto 40 division, Alegre and Iberdrola were battling for final victory, which finally fell on the side of the Monaco flagged boat owned by Andrés Soriano. In their wake Noticia and Bigamist were fighting for the third spot on the podium. After a general recall, race 1 started and saw Jose María Torcida cut down distances by three points with Alegre, whereas Iñaki Castañer finished just one point behind Afonso Domingo’s Bigamist. It was the boat owner Pedro Mendonça’s birthday, and his crew wanted to offer him a place on the podium, which they clinched in race two. Iberdrola rounded the first top mark last, and managed to move up to third by the end of the race, but Alegre’s fourth place gave them the victory.

 

 Mapfre overall winners in the J80’s – c Jesus Renedo

In J-80 Ignacio Camino’s Nextel lost all options when his boat dismasted right before the start of race 1, forcing him to abandon. This benefited Mapfre who sailed conservatively in the two last races of the event to win his first Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre crown. Nextel was third.

No big surprises either in X-35, where “Margherita – Jsteam”, “Hotelplan – Spirit of Nerina” and “Red Eléctrica”, the three top boats this morning, stepped on the podium in this same order.

 

 

Tight racing to the end in the X35 one designs – c Jesus Renedo

 

For full results visit: www.prensarcnp.es/copa10/principal/index_uk.php

 

 

Star Class Olympic Medal Predictions

 

Star Class at the 2012 Olympic Games – 16 boats

 

 

The relatively small 16 boat Star fleet is full of highly experienced and accomplished sailors. Smart money expects a dog fight between 2 multi Olympic medal winning teams. Iain Percy moved to the Star having won Gold in the Finn class in Sydney 2000. It took time but after a disappointing 2004 Games he got together with long time pal Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, for the 2008 Games. In a tense medal race the British buddies clinched Gold and then went on to win the 2010 Worlds. Despite a successful 2011 season they have suffered a string of defeats by arch rivals Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada of Brazil. The Brits were in much demand on other race circuits whilst the Brazilains concentrated almost solely on their Star campaign.

The Brits had to come from behind at the Olympic test event to win the Silver and endured a number of breakages at major regattas since. At the 2011 Perth Worlds Iain Percy was forced out due to injury. They started 2012 solidly with a win in Hyeres but losing out to the Brazilians again to settle for Silver at the 2012 Worlds. At SFG in Weymouth & Portland they had to finish strongly and in a controversial medal race, ended up taking Silver again. At home waters and in a good breeze they will be strong to beat.

 

 

Bruno Scheidt already holds 2 Gold and 2 Silver Olympic medals in the Laser and Star classes. After narrowly losing out to the Brits in Beijing 2008 they carried on campaigning the Star and appear on the podium at every major regatta they race. They come to Weymouth as the team to beat, winning the last 2 World Championships in Perth and Hyeres and claiming 2nd at the recent SFG regatta at the Olympic venue.

There are a number of seasoned Star campaigners that could trouble these top two teams. Another former Finn sailor, Freddie Loof won bronze in Sydney in 2000 before joining the keelboat fleet. He made am impact winning the World Championships twice but it was not until 2008 that he took another Olympic medal, this time a bronze. Campaigning this time with Max Salminen he will be one to watch.

 

 

Amongst a number of very experienced teams such as Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk (NZL) and Flavio Marrazi and Enrico de Maria (SUI) and Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih of the USA, all of whom should feature in the medal race, there is an Irish pair, Peter O’ Leary and David Burrows, who have been turning heads with some sound results. They seemed to stack up the fourths with this result at the Olympic test event, 2011 Euroepeans and 2012 Worlds in Hyeres. They then really showed some form winning Gold at SFG in June of Olympic year.

Outside chances of a podium place also come from Frances Pierre Ponsot and Zavier Rohart and Elvind Melleby and Petter Pedersen of Norway.

 

Jonny’s predictions:

Gold: Robert Scheidt & Bruno Prada BRA

Silver: Iain Percy & Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson GBR

Bronze: Freddie Loof & Max Salminen SWE

 

 

 

Ideal conditions set up individual duels

 

Day 5 of the 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre in Palma del Mallorca


Ideal sailing conditions for the Mini Maxis on the penultimate day or racing – c Martinez Studio

 

Day 5 of the 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre delivered moderate wind conditions and lumpy seas which tested the smaller classes of the fleet on the water. RÁN stretched their lead whilst Audi All4One and Audi Azzurra Sailing Team continue their particular duel.

In IRC 0 Nikklas Zennstrom, skippering RÁN, took two second places in as many races, to hold on to first overall with 13 points. The Swedish 72 footer benefited from Shockwave’s below par performance, the mini-maxi skippered by George Sakellaris could only manage a fourth and a fifth, and now lies 9 points behind RÁN. The day’s victories fell to the 65 footer Stig and 72 footer Jethou, which proved faster in the stronger wind conditions delivering a fantastic show on the water. Third overall is Stig with 26 points.

In the hotly contested IRC1 class Audi Azzurra Sailing Team got sweet revenge for the previous day’s Schuemann’s double wins by getting back to back victories. Audi All4One was hot on her heels on race one crossing the line right after the Italo-Argentinean boat, but IRC52 Provezza 7 got in her way in race two. All4One and Audi Azzurra Sailing Team are first and second classified respectively and lie even with 18 points, Azzurra having more victories, after both discarded their result in race 6. Third in the leader board is the British boat Gladiator of Tony Langley. The last day of races will surely deliver an epic battle on the water in the IRC 1 class.

 

 

 

RAN and the Stig battle for supremacy in IRC 0 – c Jesus Renedo

 

In the J-80’s Mapfre stands out as clear favourite with just two races left. Conditions proved tricky for the mono-type class, with 14 knots of wind gusting up to 18 knots and lumpy seas in the first race. Carlos Martínez discarded his result on the day’s first race, which was won by Jose María van der Ploeg skippering Nilfisk, and was third in the second. Nilfisk and Nextel where eighth and sixth respectively, and Mapfre holds to the hot spot with six points advantage over second classified Nextel.

 

 

Lumpy seas for the X35 – c Jesus Renedo

 

The stronger winds tested sailors in the X-35 class division too, and the committee was forced to launch a black flagged start in race 2, after a general recall in the first attempt. Audi Ultra’s wesker performance, 7-9, loses her the leadership in the overall classification  to Margherita – Jsteam of Roberto Mazzucato, 7-2, followed by Hotelplan – Spirit of Nerina” of Alberto Fusco, 3-3. Mazzucato amasses an advantage of 9 points over Fusco, but the winner will surely come down to the last race in the X-35 division.

 

 Nearly a face plant in fast n furious J80 downwind sailing – c Jesus Renedo

 

For full results visit: www.prensarcnp.es/copa10/principal/index_uk.php

Light wind and high temperatures

 

Day 4 – 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre in Palma de Mallorca

Audi Azzurra fight back on day 4 – c Martinez Studio

 

Two wins in a row and the lead in IRC 1 for Audi All4One but not without high drama resulting in a late night in the jury room but no big changes in the IRC 0 division. Discards come into effect in the IRC and RI divisions.

Light wind conditions prevailed in day 4 of the 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre, in spite of which the fleet delivered some of the tightest and most tactical racing bringing several visits to the race committee. Jochen Schuemann’s All4One clinched back-to-back wins in two races, climbing to the top spot in the IRC1 overall classification after 7 races. RÁN holds on to the lead although Shockwave and Stig were the day’s two winners in as many races, and Alegre also remains leader of the Soto 40 class, with an increased advantage of 7 points over Iberdrola.

 

 

 

 

 

Bust up between Audi All4One and Audi Azzurra at the gate – c Xaime Olleros

The wind pattern of around 15 knots from the southwest-west which prevailed for the last three days switched to a southerly-southwesterly light breeze of around 6 knots at the beginning of racing, gradually picking up and reaching 12 knots in the early afternoon. Demanding conditions and very tactical racing on a very decisive day in which discards came into effect for the X-35 and J-80 divisions.

Wind was best on the left hand side of the course as the first IRC 0 start was launched. RÀN didn’t perform at her best in the day’s first race and finished third, and could only improve by one point in race two where she was second, but the Swedish boat holds on to a six point lead over second classified Shockwave of George Sakellaris, which was first in the first race, and third in the second. The Italian Stig finished on a higher note with a second and first finishes, but the JV 72 footer owned by Alessandro Rombelli’s two DNF’s yesterday is too heavy a load and she is still fourth classified in the overall scoring board. “Highland Fling” was forced to abandon the first race after her spinnaker tore, and didn’t start the second.

 

Racing in IRC 1 was marked by a tete a tete between All4One and Audi Azzurra Sailing Team which finally fell on the French-German side. The TP52 skippered by Jochen Schumann clinched back-to-back wins dominating both races from beginning to end, which made them real and corrected time winners. The light breeze didn’t benefit Azzurra Sailing Team, and things got worse for the Italo-Argentinean team as they had to take a penalty turn after a port-starboard situation. All4One climbs to top spot, Guillermo Parada’s Audi Azzurra lies second, and Tony Langley’s Gladiator gets closer just two points behind the Italo-Argentineans.

It was a gun-to-gun win for Alegre in the first race of the Soto 40 division, thanks to her good speed, but she also benefited from some unlucky episodes for the rest of the fleet, which had to deal with very tactical conditions. The boat owned by Andrés Soriano finished sixth in the second race, which could have favoured second classified Iberdrola, but Agustin Zulueta’s 40 footer’s two blunders, 5-5, leave them seven points behind Alegre. Bigamist was one of the best teams on the water  on the day, snatching a second place and a victory, which lifts them to the fourth position in the overall score board.

 

 Iberdrola on the chase in the Soto 40 fleet – c Jesus Renedo

 

No changes in the RI 1 classification, where Swanderfull of José Caldeira and Chuny Bermúdez remains leader, with a seven point advantage over Hendrik Brandis Earlybird. The battle between the two favoured Rats on Fire of Rafael Carbonell, which cut down the distance by 1,5 points, and will be able to discard their blunder in the second race tomorrow. The two times Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre champion is third, and fifteen points behind lies Grupo Clínico Luis Senís. In RI2 consistent Power Plate of Olympic sailor Gustavo Martínez Doreste is first, followed by Movistar of Pedro Campos.

 

 

 

Discards come into play in the one designs – c Jesus Renedo

 

Discards came into effect in the J-80 and X-35 division after their eighth race.The J-80 division sees Carlos Martinez’s Mapfre increases her lead thanks to her rival’s Nextel’s OCS in the first race and a fourth place in the second, whereas Martinez was second and first. The victory in the first race went to Nilfisk of José María van der Ploeg, but the boat skippered by the Olympic sailor could only finish seventh in the second. Nextel lies second in the overall classification, followed by Nilfisk, which is twenty points clear of the fourth classified boat.

In X-35 yesterday’s leader Hotelplan – Spirit of Nerina could only manage an eleventh and an eighth place in the day’s two races. First is now Margherita – Jsteam de Roberto Mazzucato thanks to a first and a second, whereas Finnish Samuli Liesti’s Audi Ultra lie in second.

Two more windward-leeward races will be sailed on Friday, and discards will come into effect for divisions racing in compensated time.

 

 

 

Mapfre lead the J80 Class – c Jesus Renedo

 

For full results visit: www.prensarcnp.es/copa10/principal/index_uk.php

Finn Class Olympic Medal Predictions

 

Finn Class at the 2012 Olympic Games – 25 boats

 

Ben Ainslie – Hot favourite for fourth gold – c jesus renedo

 

Britain’s Ben Ainslie stands on the cusp of becoming the most successful Olympic sailor ever. If he is successful in clinching a fourth gold medal he would even surpass the ‘great dane’ Paul Elvstrom who competed in 8 Olympic Games winning 4 consecutive golds between 1948 – 1060. Ainslie would also rise above Jochen Schümann who also holds 3 golds and a silver. 

Bens biggest rival for the last 2 years has been fellow countryman, Giles Scott who won the 2011 Finn Gold Cup and more recently beat Ben in the Finn Nationals in Falmouth in the UK. Giles also scored an amazing 7 bullets at SFG at Weymouth and Portland to pulverise the opposition including Ainslie.

However with only one nation qualification per class, Ainslie was chosen as the British Finn representative. It is arguably the case that GBR could fill the podium if this was not the case with a third Finn Gold Cup winner in Ed Wright.

Apart from Scott, Ainslie has dominated the top grade Finn regattas with a very impressive 6th Finn Gold Cup victory in Falmouth were he literally blew away the competition with a string of bullets in big breeze and waves. Notably Giles Scott was not competing, he was racing the AC45 in the Americas Cup World Series.

 

 

 

PJ Postma 2nd in Perth 2011 – c Richard Langdon

 

So who can rain on Bens parade? There is a host of top Finn sailors who could challenge for a medal. If the breeze is up PJ Postma from the Netherlands is consistent and can push Ben hard. He got silver in the Perth 2011 Worlds a point adrift of Scott and bronze at the recent SFG at the Olympic venue.

Ivan Gaspic of Croatia is a fit solid performer regularly finishing at the top end of the fleet. Another solid performer is Zach Railey (USA) who claimed silver in Beijing 2008 and almost a dead cert to be in the medal race finalists at major regattas.

 

 

Ivan Gaspic a warm chance of a podium place – c Richard Langdon

 

Jonas Hogh Christesen another previous world champion took a break from the class and came back with some fine form and a bronze at the 2012 Gold Cup in Falmouth. Rafa Trujillo of Spain should feature in the hunt for medals but has suffered with some speed problems in recent regattas.

Other sailors with an outside chance of medals include Jonathan Lobert (FRA), Dan Slater (NZL) and Daniel Birgmark (SWE).

 

Jonny’s predictions:

 Gold: Ben Ainslie (GBR)

Silver: PJ Postma (NED)

Bronze: Ivan Gaspic (CRO)

Zach Railey – living the dream

 

Finn Class Interview by Robert Deaves:

Zach Railey – living the dream

In the first of a series of interviews with the top Finn sailors heading into the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, Robert Deaves talks to Zach Railey the Silver medalist from the 2008 Olympics.

Going into the 2008 Olympics Zach Railey was a relative unknown. He was one of the newest sailors in the class and was not really expected to win a medal. However his consistency in the early days left him leading the regatta and he was suddenly the centre of attention. As the event closed out he held his cool despite being match raced out of the first attempt to get the medal race away by the eventual Gold medalist Ben Ainslie. Zach eventually took Silver a day later when it was re-sailed in strong winds and big seas. It was a day that changed his life, and the realisation of an ambition that started when he was 12.

Now, four years later he is the US Team Captain and a role model for a generation of young sailors. He started sailing at age eight, following a suggestion from his family dentist to try summer sailing classes. Sailing Optimists until he was almost 13 he switched to the Radial and then the Laser, but outgrew each boat in turn. Then Chris Cook (CAN) asked Zach to sail with him one day in a Finn and he has been hooked ever since.

Last time around the US Olympic trials was a single winner-takes-all regatta. Like many elements of the new US approach to Olympic sailing, the trials system has radically changed, and this time around major regattas were used as indicators. “I like the new format as it measures you against the international competition you will race against at the Olympics. It also allows you to continue on the Olympic circuit without having to come home and concentrate on a trials event in the middle of the season. Overall, I think this was a huge success and I think it should be the way forward for our qualifications for 2016 and beyond. There may have to be some different regattas used next time but the general idea is a huge success.”

While winning the Silver in China was a massive achievement by any standards, bettering that colour in Weymouth is an even bigger ask, yet Zach is never negative about his chances and always focusses on what he is able to control.

“It is a big ask to qualify for the Olympics let alone then medal or win. This is hard and you are competing against the best in the world. That being said I am confident in my abilities and confident in the training and planning that has gone into the last four years. These are the best Finn sailors in the world going head to head at their best and that is the exact situation I want to put myself into and see where I come out in the end. It is the ultimate test and I can’t wait for it to begin.”

I race every race from a clean slate. I do not worry about the end result until the regatta takes me there. My job is to go out and post the best results that I can in each race and see how the regatta unfolds. Every event is different and there is no way to predict what will happen so I worry about me and let the results speak for themselves. If I am beaten by someone because they were better than I was, I can accept that, but I cannot accept beating myself.”

“The athletes always get better and better and smarter and smarter. It is amazing the progress you see over just a four year period. You have to constantly keep making improvements or you get left behind. I think physically this four years has been a huge difference as I am now almost 40 pounds heavier than when I was in China. That has taken a lot of work and I am very proud of getting my body ready for the conditions in Weymouth.. I also think the addition of the free pumping rule to 10 knots has made the boat much more physically gruelling and has really pushed the class forward in terms of a true athletic test.”

Over the last four years Zach has matured as a Finn sailor and has achieved a resonable level of success on the circuit. A year after the Olympic medal he took another silver, this time at the Finn God Cup in Copenhagen, and very nearly won the world title. Over the last two years he has picked up several medals including a silver at Hyeres in 2011 and a silver at Palma earlier this year. He also took gold, albeit in a smaller fleet at Miami this year. Top 10 places at the last four world championships is evidence enough that he is a force to be reckoned with, as well as being a record that not many other Finn sailors in Weymouth can match.

“I like to challenge myself. For me that means sailing against the best and trying to beat the best. For sailing that means the Olympics, Volvo Ocean Race or the America’s Cup. I fell in love with the Olympics in 1996 when Atlanta hosted the Olympic Games. I was 12 years old and remember watching Michael Johnson win the 200 meters on TV and thought one day I could be there. I’m living the dream right now.”

“You have to be very dedicated to do an Olympic campaign, so dedicated that most people see it as being selfish. I don’t think of myself as selfish but as a person who has a dream and knows that there are people out there who will help me achieve my dream. I know that I have given up so much to get to this point but I am perfectly content with the decision to do so because I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to do with my life.”

“I know that most people will not understand why you would sacrifice so much but I have a great support system and they sometimes don’t understand it themselves, but they will always stand by me no matter what sacrifices have to be made. One of my favourite quotes is: “Talent is common. Disciplined talent is rare”I believe that I am a very disciplined person.”

What about the sacrifices? “My personal life has taken the biggest toll. I have an amazing family who are incredibly supportive of what I do, and also what my sister Paige does, and we have both made it to the Olympics in 2012 because of our family support system. The number of relationships lost over the years because of being gone, doing so much training and travelling are too many to count but I would change nothing, it’s all worth it, and those who have been there for the long haul are truly special to me.”

Did winning an Olympic medal in 2008 change his life? “It certainly brought a lot more attention to me after 2008. That took some time for me to adjust to afterwards. I think the greatest thing about it was the opportunities I was given to achieve some none sailing goals like the OliviaLives Charity (OliviaLives.com) which is a huge accomplishment for Paige, myself, our entire family and all of the supporters who help make it a success. “

“Also, becoming a role model for younger sailors to show them that they can do exactly what I have done. Expectations, of course, have gone up and you accept that as part of the territory.”

In 2008 Zach was famously sailed out of the first attempt at the medal race in very light winds by a ruthless Ben Ainslie. They were both way behind the fleet when it was finally abandoned. When it was re-sailed in strong winds, it was easier for Zach to sail his own race and secure the Silver. Did he learn anything that will help in 2012? “I think the biggest lesson from the experience is to always to be prepared for any situation.”

Getting the gear right is a crucial part of winning in the Finn as the rig can be tailored around particular body weights and sailing styles.“This is an area where I really learned a lot over the past four years. With my big weight change and the difference in my strength and techniques we changed my gear, but they are small changes like having a little bit stiffer mast in some areas. It is nothing that the other competitors have not done themselves.”

“Most of it had to do with my weight gain and getting the correct bend in the mast to support the weight and strength I had added and then matching the sail to that mast. My gear in 2008 was for when I weighed 185 pounds and was for a light air venue. Now I am much larger and Weymouth is a very different venue so we needed to add some more strength to my equipment and power in the rig.”

The last four years has also seen the introduction of free pumping on offwind legs in winds over 10 knots and this has changed the game a bit, favouring the tall, athletic sailors. Has there been a change in rig design or sail shape brought on by the free pumping rule? “I do not think there has been a change because of the pumping rule with equipment, but physically it’s been a huge development of maintaining power while increasing your cardiovascular capacity. It’s very hard to maintain both correctly and we have worked hard to get where I am at today.”

At a venue like Weymouth with many different conditions, how do you select the right gear? “Great question and I wish I knew 100% the answer. I think you need to develop your gear for what conditions are most likely to be present but not totally specialise them in case there are a few days that are different. So you go with an all around set-up. Weymouth could be anything – we have seen it all there – but compared to China in 2008 it is a much windier and colder venue.”

Does he have any rituals or superstitions when racing? “I do have a few that mostly go back a long way. I always wear a University of Miami hat, I listen to the same song before going on the water, which no one knows not even my family and lastly I will not shave during a regatta except for the night before the medal race. So I guess I am superstitious but they are fun.”

What’s planned after the Olympics? “I am really interested in the Volvo Ocean Race and want to do some more offshore sailing after the Olympics. Of course, the America’s Cup has always been a dream and we will see if an opportunity presents itself there in the future. My big three in sailing have always been Olympics, Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup. After 2012, we will see which one of those three I put my efforts toward but for now its all about the Olympics.”

And Finn sailing? “I love the Finn and I will always have one for sure and compete at events. As for doing another campaign in the Finn…”

When asked to pick three favourites for a medal? “This one is hard. I really think that there are about 10 guys who can make it happen and be on the podium. To narrow it down to three is what the Olympics will tell us. Ask me again on August 6th.”

And finally, what are you looking forward to the most over the next few weeks? “Walking into the Opening Ceremony with my sister Paige. We have been dreaming of that moment since we were little kids. It’s going to be a very special moment for both of us.”

You can also follow Zach on his website at: www.zach2012.com or his Twitter feed: @zachsail.

 

Photos: Robert Deaves/Finn Class

Coastal Race stretches the legs

 

 

31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre – Coastal Race

Mini Maxis reaching in superb conditions in the Coastal Race – c Jesus Renado

 

The 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre crossed its own equator in the bay of Palma, with a 25 miles coastal race which confirmed RÁN and Audi Azzurra, Swanderful and Powerplate as the current leaders in IRC and RI respectively.

The rest of the divisions completed two windward-leeward races which brought changes to the J-80 class scoring board, where Mapfre loses first position to Nextel, whereas Alegre remains first in Soto 40, and Hotelplan – Spirit of Nerina increases her lead in the X-35 class.

Unlike previous years, this edition’s coastal race scored just one point, and there was no scoring mark in the course. As no discard applied for this year’s long course either, teams in the IRC and RI divisions couldn’t risk a bad result. Conditions were perfect as the start gun was fired, with a nice Southerly breeze reaching 15 to 18 knots.

82 footer Highland Fling XI was the first mini-maxi to cross the finish line, but ended up third after times were corrected. The final winner was George Sakellaris’ Shockwave, followed by RÁN of Niklas Zennstrom, who spent much of the race side by side. RÁN remains overall leader in IRC 0.

 

Jochen Schuemann’s Audi All4One scored one point by winning the coastal race in the IRC 2 division, which, together with Gladiator’s fourth place helps the French-German team climb to third position in the overall classification after five races. Guillermo Parada’s Audi Azzurra Sailing Team chased All4One all the way to the finish flying a reaching kite on the final leg, as opposed to the standard assymetric onboard the red boat. The blue boat closed to within 50 metres of All4One on the fetch to the finish line. Audi Azzurra is the current leader after her second position today, followed by Power Play, which was third. Stephane Neve’s Paprec, which started the regatta in first position, seems to have lost momentum and is now fifth in the scoring board.

With a 19 second advantage over Chuni Bermúdez skippered Swanderful at the finish line, Grupo Clínico Luis Senís snatched victory in the RI1 coastal race, but the former remains leader of her division, and sees her advantage over Earlybird and Rats of Fire -second and third overall overall classified respectively- increased to 6 and 8 points.

 

In the Soto 40 division, the first race of the day saw Iberdrola pull off a perfect performance dominating the first windward-leeward set up from beginning to end, performing considerably better starts than yesterday. Alegre was hot on their heels but Pichu Torcida finally scored the victory. Further behind Spanish Noticia IV crossed third. The second race of the day was won by Alegre after Ibedrola missed a wind shift in the first upwind leg, that leaves them first and second respectively in the overall leader board just 4 points apart.

Ignacio Camino’s Nextel Engineering’s perfect show on the water today with two back-to-back buttets catapults the team to the top spot in the J-80 division. Mapfre managed two second places and is now tied in 13 points with Camino, whereas Olympic sailor José María van der Plough loses ground after being over the line in the last race, in spite of which he managed to cross the finish line in third position, and remains third in the overall classification.

 

As far as the X-35 are concerned, Hotelplan – Spirit of Nerina stands out as clear favourite for overall victory thanks to a third and a first place which helps her increase her advantage over Margherita and Audi Ultra.

Tomorrow all the classes will meet on the water again for two windward-leeward races in the Bay of Palma. Following the race instructions, discards will apply as from race eight except for the Soto 40 class which will not be able to discard any result.

For full results visit: www.prensarcnp.es/copa10/principal/index_uk.php

 

 

RÁN and Audi Azzurra take the lead

Day 2 – 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre in Palma de Mallorca

Strong and unexpected southerly winds in the bay of Palma helped RÁN increase her advantage at the top of the scoreboard to lead IRC 0 division, whilst Audi Azzurra Sailing Team’s two wins in as many races lifts them to first position in IRC 1. On Wednesday both divisions run their coastal race, whilst the rest of the fleets stay in the Bay of Palma for more windward-leeward racing.

The Bay of Palma delivered yet another day of fantastic conditions in spite of a not so optimistic wind forecast. The locally known Garbi picked up progressively reaching 18 – 20 knots. This allowed the fleet to display a fantastic show on the water, which saw several spinnakers blown under the unexpected wind pressure.

Boosted by the conditions, the largest boats of the fleet,  running in the IRC 0 division, managed to finish the day’s two races in less than an hour each. Niklas Zennstrom’s majestic RÁN’s two wins allows her to open a gap of seven points in the general classification over second qualified Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, which was second and third today. George Sakellaris USA flagged Shockwave scored the other way around with a third and second. As far as Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling XI is concerned, the 82 footer, the largest vessel of the fleet, is unable to perform on the short courses, recording a fifth and a fourth place today.


Racing in the IRC 1 division turned into a match race between Alberto Roemmers’ Audi Azzurra Sailing Team and Jochen Schumann’s German All4One. A very good start by the Italian-Argentinean TP52 allowed her to round the first top mark first, closely followed by All4One. The risky tactics called by Jordi Calafat onboard All4One on the last run lost her third position to  Gladiator (GBR). The second race of the day turned out to be even worse for Schumann’s crew, who crossed the finish line in  sixth position, loosing their spot on the podium. First in the overall classification after four races is Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, followed by Tony Langley’s Gladiator and Peter Cunningham’s Powerplay (CAY).

The Soto 40’s made their debut in the 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre running in their own division, and delivered some surprises. Andy Soriano’s Allegre controlled the day’s two races from beginning to end, whereas the Soto 40 European Championship’s current leader Ngoni started on the wrong foot, as did the Spanish boat Iberdrola. The José María Torcida skippered 40 footer tried to hit the line at the pin end but was left with no space. Nevertheless the Spanish boat managed to recover to finish third. Portuguese Bigamist’s issues with her spinnaker caused her to loose positions during the race to finish eighth. Skipper Afonso Domingos took revenge by winning race two, leaving them third overall, tied on points with Iñaki Castañer’s Noticia. Alegre was second and clinches the Soto 40 overall lead, with Iberdrola second.

The fleet’s smaller one-designs, the J-80’s enjoyed lighter winds in race area Charlie which hosted the day’s two races. Ignacio Camino’s Nextel and Jose María van der Ploeg’s Nilfisk won race one and two respectively, closing down the distance with Carlos Martinez’s Mapfre which remains leader in spite of her third and fourth places today.

Racing in the X-35 division proved as tight as yesterday, with each race bringing a new change in positions. Finish Audi Ultra shares the lead with Italian Margherite – Jsteam of Roberto Mazzucato, which was first and second. Slow but steady, defending champion Hotelplan – Spirit of Nerina has climbed to  third spot.

Tomorrow Wednesday the IRC and RI divisions will have their coastal race which is expected to cover approximately 30 miles. The committee plans two windward-leeward races for the rest of the divisions.