It was a big day in Rio on the second day of racing for Finns at the Olympic Sailing Competition. Racing on the Niteroi courses area out on the open ocean, the Finn fleet excelled in the huge waves in big winds. Giles Scott (GBR) put his worries from Tuesday behind him to record the performance of the day to move into the overall lead. Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) drops to second while Alican Kaynar (TUR) drops one place to third.
The conditions were full on in all regards. With darkened skies, a strong, cold wind straight from the Antarctic, and big, breaking waves catching out the unwary, the only bright points of the day were the lights coming on along Copacabana, shining through the murk across the rough Rio waters. It was definitely not the Rio in the brochure, but the Finn sailors loved it all the same.
Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) led round the top mark in the first race of the day. Zsombor Berecz (HUN) took the lead downwind, but then Jonathan Lobert, who had rounded third, moved ahead on the second upwind to lead into the finish from Scott and Mitakis.
Scott went one better in the next race, to lead at every mark to win by 50 seconds. Mitakis again produced an outstanding performance in the challenging conditions to cross second, while Caleb Paine (USA) made up for the first race with a third place finish.
Four sailors later requested redress after heading to a wrong set of windmark marks, which were laid nearby.
Compared with Tuesday, Scott was more upbeat about his day. “Much better than yesterday. It was incredibly windy, top end that we would be in, 20-25 knots, big seas, which made for really full on racing, but to come away with a second and a first is a lot more pleasing than my day yesterday for sure.”
“It couldn’t have been more different today. It was a big change in racing and approach and fortunately for me it came good today. The reason we race such long series is to do away with those particularly fickle races and tricky conditions.”
After a poor start to his first Olympics, he said it was important not to panic. “Going into the week you knew the difficult course would be Sugarloaf and if you get that southerly condition it is incredible tricky. I think I could have read too much into it, but it was nice to get into it today and have some different conditions and get away from the thoughts of yesterday. One of the things to remember is that the conditions inside the bay and outside were very different. Racing was a bit more predicable.”
One of the other pre-regatta favourites who has struggled so far is Pieter-Jan Postma (NED), but he says he thinks he could be back “in the game.”
“It was a bit better than yesterday. I had a 12th and a fourth. I was near the front in the first one, but I was struggling a bit with speed but also with placing. You need to be in the shift, and in the gust. With the last race I was in the game. I need to build on that.”
“The results are all over the place. It is hard but it doesn’t matter if it’s hard, as if it’s hard, it’s challenging and that’s good.”
“But it was windy. Big waves. I even sailed three to one today. Most did I think. A tough day.”
Mikakis’s performance moves him up to fourth overall. “It was a nice breeze for the Finns, 20-25 knots, and I think we had better weather conditions than the guys on the inside courses. I had two really good races. I have two good starts so I tried to play the shifts and find the clouds. Normally I am not in the top three in these conditions but I knew that I had good speed, so I knew I had to have good starts and then you are out of the pack.”
The 2012 bronze medallist Lobert was one of those struggling on Tuesday. Today he followed his race win with a seventh, but he was unhappy with himself.
“I was happy with the first race, My speed was good and I managed to sail well and I won. The second race I was leading again and expecting wind from the right hand side, like happened in the first race. I had Giles behind me but I didn’t look enough and a lot went to the left and we got this left shift and I lost everything. So a little mixed feelings today because I think I could have had a much better day. A seventh is not that good with the speed I had when you look at the beginning of the race. But it’s part of the game and I look forward to tomorrow to try to come back.”
Sailing in his first Olympics Jake Lilley (AUS) had a better day. “Two keepers. I didn’t really have my best groove on and got a little bit of the phasing wrong early in both races but managed to grind away and get two keepers.”
“I think the four races so far show two things, the level of the fleet and how difficult the conditions are here. It’s pretty easy to make mistakes and then you lose 10-15 points. But it’s a really long week and I liken it to racing the Tour de France as opposed to the 100 metres, and we’re not even a third of the way through yet with a lot of racing to go, and a lot of things that can happen.”
On his first Olympic experience, “It’s been really good so far, a really enjoyable experience, but in terms of racing it’s tough as everyone is on peak form and racing really well. That provides its challenges but it’s really enjoyable and there’s nothing else you’d rather be doing."
The Finns have two more races on Thursday, when more strong winds have been forecast, scheduled to take place on the Escola Naval course area inside Guanabara Bay, before a much needed lay day on Friday.
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