Despite a comfortable medal race win for Giles Scott, it was long-time series leader Andy Maloney who secured gold at the 50 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar on Saturday.
After an epic medal race in 18-20 knots, Maloney did just enough to finish close enough to race winner Scott to take the title by two points. Scott took the silver while Josh Junior crossed in sixth to win the bronze.
Big wind was always on the forecast so it was no surprise when the fleet woke to 25 knots and huge waves rolling down the Bay of Palma, and the decision was taken to postpone and wait it out. But, Finn sailors being Finn sailors, they were full of bravado, and raring to go.
Finally starting shortly after midday the race was sailed in great conditions, with huge waves.
Maloney and Scott tussled up the first beat, but Scott got away and rounded ahead to take the lead downwind and storm away to a comfortable win.
Maloney was deep in sixth or seventh and it was looking like anther victory for Scott was looming.
On the final upwind, Maloney headed up to the right and after a few good shifts was back in contention and the moved up to third at the final downwind mark.
Scott paused at the final mark and considered his options to push Maloney back, but then thought better of it and headed to the finish to settle for silver, while Ed Wright almost caught him at the end.
Maloney crossed third to take the gold while Junior finished in sixth to keep the bronze.
Maloney explained his race, “It was really close going into the race today and I just wanted to stick close to him, and see if I could slow him down and put us at the back, and not enable him to get an opportunity to put that many boats between us. I started just up on his hip and managed to hold him out to the port layline.”
“And when he came at me I tried dialing down and got a penalty on him but unfortunately that got green flagged. We were coming in on the port layline and I was trying to slow him down a bit, but I made a bit of a meal of that and he managed to roll me and got himself back into the race. On top of that the wind went left on the beat, so we were still in the race after going quite slowly up the left side.”
“Then it was all on from there and I was mid-pack and had to fight me way back to within a couple of places of him to secure the gold. I was about six or seventh at the gate, but sailed a few nice shifts up the second beat, so it was a pretty full on race with lots going on.”
Scott contemplated his missed chances. “I was reasonably pleased the way I dealt with Andy on the start line. I led out towards the left hand side and actually managed to spit him out behind me, but because of the way the waves were I couldn’t make a big enough jump on him to tack and clear. So we ended up having a bit of a come together on the port layline, which ended up with a green flag and we came in on a lefty to the windward mark and he ended up slowing up to, I think, get into a luffing position on me.”
“But I managed to roll over the top of him at the windward mark. So I sneaked round there and got away and won the race. The tricky part was working out whether to go on the offensive on that last downwind, with him in third, fourth or fifth. I needed two boats between us, but as it was he came through at the bottom gate to finish third. So close, but not quite.”
The Trofeo Princesa Sofia marks the beginning of a long hard season for the Finn class. Most of the fleet will now head direct from Palma to Athens, where in just five weeks time, the European Championship begins, with the next four nation places on the starting line in Tokyo up for grabs.
After that, many will go to Tokyo for training, while there are also Continental qualifiers in Tokyo and Rio. Finally at the end of the year, the Finn Gold Cup returns to Melbourne.
Finn – Final results (medal race in brackets)
Gold NZL 61 Andrew Maloney 41 (3)
Silver GBR 41 Giles Scott 43 (1)
Bronze NZL 24 Josh Junior 68 (6)
4th HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 76 (4)
5th NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 85 (5)
6th GBR 11 Ed Wright 94 (2)
7th POL 17 Piotr Kula 94 (8)
8th GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 102 (9)
9th ARG 48 Facu Olezza 103 (10)
10th BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 104 (7)
Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar – Podium Places