Tricky light winds tested competitors to the limit during the second day's racing at the Finn Gold Cup in Rio de Janeiro

With the exception of Sander Willems from the Netherlands who took a second and first place on the second day of the Finn Gold Cup in Rio de Janeiro yesterday, consistency is something few competitors are managing to find in the tricky conditions. Willems is now the overnight leader with Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) who scored a 10th and a 9th in second, with reigning champion Ben Ainslie (GBR) in third.

Speed was the crucial element in yesterday’s racing; at least speed in the right direction. For many it was just a drag race to the corner and those who didn’t come in drag ended up looking at far too many transoms. Racing was sailed outside Rio Harbour and proved a testing time for all concerned with light and variable winds and a strong current across the course that caught out many.

Race two started after a postponement in 3-5 knots of breeze. Most of the fleet favoured the left on the first beat, although in general the leaders emerged from the right. It was a long slow beat against the tide, with many again fouling the weather mark. First round the weather mark was Gasper Vincec (SLO) followed by Richard Clarke (CAN), Guillaume Florent (FRA) and Karlo Kuret (CRO).

On the run the fleet went left, with Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) leading a group to the right. However, the left was paying and Florent led round the bottom mark followed by Sander Willems (NED), who had moved up from 6th at the top mark, and a group of others tightly bunched including Sebastien Godefroid (BEL). By now the wind was up to 8-10 knots and virtually everyone was following the right-hand side of the course and Florent maintained his lead to win the race on the following run followed by Willems and Godefroid.

The tide was even stronger for race three but the breeze had gone back to a fitful 4-6 knots, and in spite of an adverse tidal set on the start line, there were still two general recalls before the race got underway. Waclaw Szukiel (POL) made the best of the start to tack away immediately to the right and to round the first mark just behind Sander Willems (NED), Matt Howard (GBR) and Othmar Mueller van Blumencron (SUI). Waclaw took the lead on the run to lead through the downwind gate.

On the final upwind leg, everyone headed inshore out of the tide, but an increase in pressure and backing in direction left those inshore scuppered. Willems regained the lead and led to the downwind finish to score an impressive win. The race was overly lengthened due to the wind gradually decreasing and the strong tide and made for some very frustrating racing for some.

Proceedings were slightly livened up by a bulk carrier deciding to cross the course area. The Chairman of the Jury Ralph Roberts tried showing it the yellow flag in an attempt to keep it off the course, but after a 360 degree turn, the captain decided to come through anyway!

It was certainly a tricky day’s sailing with patchy and fitful breezes and a strong tide to content with. Many big names are well down the results list and very few people are finishing any sort of consistency. Only Jonas Hoegh-Christensen has managed to score all top 10 results and most of those inside the top ten have a high scoring race.

Winner of race two Guillaume Florent commented: “In the first race there was a bit more breeze and I was sailing fast in the right direction. I went right on the first beat and centre right on the second and it paid both times. Then for some reason I tried something completely different in the second race today, and it didn’t work at all.” Florent had a shocker in race three, finishing 53rd.

Defending Champion Ben Ainslie was relatively pleased with his day. A 17th in race two was down to having the wrong rig settings after the breeze increased, but the speed returned for race three when he finished third. He commented: “A good day overall, as most people are having trouble here, so to get a third is good, but perhaps I didn’t go hard enough right. In the first race today, apart from lack of speed, I kept getting forced left when the right paid and there wasn’t much I could do about it. It was a very tough day out there.” Team mate Andrews Simpson, who finished 3rd in Cadiz scored a 36th and 16th, concurred: “Boy it was hard out there. Even when you thought you were going the right way, things could turn against you. Just look at the results and see how many big names were finishing way down. But there’s always tomorrow.”