Trujillo fast out of the blocks

Finn Gold Cup has a breezy opening day in San Francisco

Monday August 30th 2010, Author: Robert Deaves, Location: United States

After two fantastic races on San Francisco Bay, the 2004 Olympic Silver medallist Rafa Trujillo (ESP) takes the early lead in the 2010 Finn Gold Cup. The 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist Zach Railey (USA) lies in second while Giles Scott (GBR) ended the opening day in third.

It was always going to be a windy day with 15 knots already blowing when the sailors arrived and forecasts of more for later in the day. It was bright, sunny, windy - perfect conditions for full-on Finn sailing. The wind increased during the day to 22 knots in race two with the Oscar flag flying for free pumping throughout the day.

Race one turned into a two horse race race with Rafa Trujillo (ESP) leading Gasper Vincec (SLO) round the top mark from the right hand side. These two already had a useful gap on the fleet and then extended on each and every leg. Third round was the defending world champion Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN).

At the downwind gate, Trujillo and Vincec rounded together while the European Champion Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) had moved up to third. Høgh Christensen was suffering both from lack of practice and a broken finger and slipped back on the downwinds.

Trujillo maintained his lead all the way to the wing mark but then lost it to Vincec on the fast reaches to the finish by around five boat lengths. This pair were about a minute ahead of the chasing pack, with Kljakovic Gaspic leading Brendan Casey (AUS) and Zach Railey (USA) over the line.

The wind increased slightly for race two with the fleet again favouring the right hand side. Trujillo made the best of it to hold a narrow lead from Høgh Christensen round the top mark with Ed Wright (GBR) and Giles Scott (GBR) close behind.

Trujillo pulled out a useful gap on the first downwind and was never really threatened again. He extended slightly again on the second beat crossing back from the favoured right hand side, while Scott moved up to second and Wright dropped to fourth.

Høgh Christensen again suffered on the final reaches to the finish, dropping three places. Trujillo took the win followed by Scott, Wright, Marin Misura (CRO), Railey and then Høgh Christensen.

So Trujillo takes the early lead after an exceptional day's sailing in some fantastic conditions. Home country hopeful Railey is second after a consistent day while the recent Skandia Sail for Gold winner Scott is on equal points with defending champion Høgh Christensen, who has sailed just one regatta in the past 12 months. There is surely much more to come from the tough Dane.

Trujillo said, “I am really enjoying sailing here. The conditions are very similar to home with the winds always over 15 knots. I was a bit lucky on the start of the second race. At 10 seconds to go I was sandwiched between two boats and going backwards. But I went back and round and found a fantastic hole to the right and kept going. So I hike, hike, hike and that was that.”

“The fleet is really tough here and they won't give you one metre they don't have to. This will be a really hard championship in San Francisco because you cannot rest. All the time you have to work the angles downwind through the chop to surf all the time. But it's more easy when you are in front.”

Høgh Christensen said, “For me being out of the boat for a year and with a broken finger makes it quite difficult on the runs and reaches I don't have any power in my right hand, so I had a hard time staying in my position. I am not that happy with my downwind and reaching speed but it's getting better and better. But am I happy being in fourth.”

“It's fantastic here. I would like little bigger waves but as a trade off for consistent winds and beautiful weather, I'll take it any day. I think it's one of the best places in the world to sail.”

New faces

Among the many new faces in the class this year is Matt Coutts (NZL). The championship is something of a family reunion with Matt's uncle, Rob Coutts (NZL) also sailing, with his father Grant doing some coaching and other uncle, Russell, popping in for a few days. “I haven't actually seen my dad for most of the year as I've been over in Spain but it's nice to all get together here. Russell is coming over for a couple of days, so it will be nice to see him as well.”

What are his goals and expectations here. “Well because I haven't raced much this season I honestly couldn't say how I will do. I weight in at 98 kg so I am big enough and strong enough. So we'll see. I've done quite a bit of sailing against Rafa but as far as the rest of the fleet in a breeze, I feel OK, but I don't know – ask me at the end of the week.”

“I am loving sailing the Finn so far. I came from the Lasers so the Finn has a bit more of a technical element to it which gives me something else to think about. And I am loving being able to eat as much as I want, especially for this regatta.”

“I started at the very end of last year. So I pretty much spent the whole of this year trying to get my strength up and get my speed up. I haven't done many regattas. I don't know how it's going to go yet, as we haven't really had many windy regattas this season. I am coming into it as a bit of an unknown.”

Russell Coutts has been at the venue for several days coaching his young nephew. Does his famous uncle have any influence on him or advice to offer. “Oh for sure he has. He's been a big help. When I decided to go into the Finn, you could see it was pretty exciting for him. He been giving me some general direction advice, kind of the big picture stuff, what I should be working on, a little bit of the technical aspect of it. A little bit of everything, but mainly just general direction making sure I am working on the right things and spending the time and money on the right things.”

“He's done some fantastic things. I think if I can get anywhere close to what he's done then I'll be happy but for the moment I am just trying to see how good I can do.” After a 37th and 48th today, Coutts lies in 43rd place, exactly half way down the fleet.

Racing continues Tuesday with two more races and forecasts of slightly stronger winds coming through.

Results after 2 races:

1 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 3
2 USA 4 Zach Railey 10
3 GBR 41 Giles Scott 12
4 DEN 2 Jonas Høgh-Christensen 12
5 FRA 115 Thomas le Breton 15
6 AUS 1 Brendan Casey 16
7 SLO 5 Gasper Vincec 17
8 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 18
9 GBR 11 Edward Wright 21
10 ESP 7 Alejandro Muscat 21

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