Ben Ainslie now leads the Finn Gold Cup in Rio by seven points

The Finn Gold Cup in Rio de Janeiro saw two more races yesterday in superb conditions in Guanabara Bay with fresh winds and great waves. A win in race five and a 12th in race six saw Ben Ainslie (GBR) move into a seven-point lead over Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) with just three races to go. David Burrows (IRL) moved up to 3rd after some consistent races.

Race five got underway in 8-10 knots of breeze in a warm north-east wind. The windward/leeward course was set and most sailors started down near the pin end. The majority of the fleet headed towards the left of the course. Sebastian Godefroid (BEL) and Ben Ainslie (GBR) moved towards the right and then tacked back to the left. These two rounded the top mark first and second followed by Rafael Trujillo Villar (ESP, Ali Enver Adakan (TUR).

The overnight leader, Mateusz Kusznierewicz was struggling somewhere in the mid-20s. The leaders split gybes on the first downwind with Ainslie going to the left and Godefroid heading right. The top sailors were in their element now as the wind increased allowing them to show off their great pumping and surfing skills – under the ever-watchful eye of the Jury of course. Godefroid rounded the gate in the lead but went wrong up the second beat to let Ainslie through to the lead which he held to the finish. Godefroid eventually finished 4th behind Ali Enver Adakan and Sander Willems (NED).

One of the most experienced sailors in the fleet, Sebastian has been sailing Finns for 14 years and will step out of his hiking pants after the Olympics in Athens this summer. Not doing quite as well as he expected here Sebbe spent the winter months sail testing, however it didn’t’t quite go according to plan. “When we put together this new sail we sailed every day in a large swell and 7 to 8 knots. In Rio until today we have had flat water, so I am lacking a bit of speed.” On his plans after the summer, Sebbe says, “I am planning to go into the Tornado after the Olympics. I got a taste for speed without too much effort sailing the trimarans and also really liked the teamwork that’s involved. If you sail Finns for so long, it can get a bit boring, so it’s good to sail other boats for a change.” Tucking into a big sandwich he continues, “I am also doing some triathlons, the first one is is September, straight after the Games, but it should help me lose some weight for the Tornado.”

Race six started in 12-15kts and for the first time in the regatta the traditional Olympic course was used with an upwind finish. After one general recall, the pin-end marker was moved and many boats opted to start at the committee boat, Ainslie among them. However, shortly after the start the wind shifted back and left those at the starboard end with some catching up to do. The majority of the fleet headed left again and at the top mark it was Guillaume Florent (FRA) leading Rafael Trujillo Villar, Emilios Papathanisiou (GRE), Balazs Hadju (HUN), Anthony Nossiter (AUS), Jonas Hoegh Christensen (DEN) and Andrew Simpson (GBR). Ainslie was somewhere in the 30s and had a lot of work to do.

Large waves and an increased wind facilitated two fantastic reaches, but it was still Florent at the leeward mark ahead of Trujillo and Papathansaiou. The fleet virtually all banged left again on the second beat. Papathanasiou emerged round the top mark in the lead followed by Florent and Trujillo. Positions remained the same on the run and the final beat, with Simpson moving up to fourth.

With a bad result apiece today, the top two from yesterday, Ainslie and Kusznierewicz, swapped positions going into the penultimate day. David Burrows is just 5 points behind the Pole and this group are 11 points ahead of the chasing group. It could be an interesting day as positions 4 through to 10 are separated by just 6 points.

After racing Ainslie commented: “In the first race I got it just about right. I started at the pin end, rounded the top mark in second place and then moved into the lead on the final run. In the second race, after the general recall, they moved the pin end mark and I made a mistake by deciding to start by the committee boat. Anyway, soon after the start the wind shifted back, and those who started at the pin crossed me by miles. I rounded the top mark in the 30s, but managed to pull up a lot offwind and a few on the final beat, so I am reasonably happy with a 12th.”

Three more races are still to be sailed in this championship, two today and one tomorrow – Friday.

Results (after six races)

01 GBR 3 15 Ben Ainslie 27,0pts

02 POL 17 54 Mateuzs Kuzsneirewicz 34,0pts

03 IRL 8 16 David Burrows 39,0pts

04 CAN 303 06 Richard Clarke 51,0pts

05 CRO 11 44 Karlo Kuret 52,0pts

06 FRA 73 13 Guillaume Florent 54,0 pts