Dinghy Regattas

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Max Salminen secures Opel Finn Gold Cup after intense medal race

 

Max Salminen wins the Finn Gold Cup  – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Opel Finn Gold Cup at Lake Balaton, Hungary

 

Max Salminen, from Sweden, has secured his first Finn world title as the 2017 Opel Finn Gold Cup closes at Balatonföldvár with an extremely close and intense medal race in light winds. Jonathan Lobert, from France took the silver while Nicholas Heiner, from The Netherlands, took bronze after leading the race from start to finish.

With a reasonable wind forecast it was with some dismay that the sailors arrived at Spartacus SC to a windless lake and a postponement. However it wasn’t long before an easterly wind was in place and the top 10 were sent out for the medal race.

The title was down to five sailors, with Salminen, Wright and Lobert with the best chances, and Heiner and Zsombor Berecz, from Hungary with outside chances.

Sailed in 6-8 knots it was the kind of conditions the sailors had expected all week, and that many had trained for. Heiner was especially keen to sail in light winds and it was soon obvious why as he took the lead on the first upwind and never relinquished it. He had done everything needed to be in with a chance of a medal, now it just depended what happened behind him.

Ed Wright, from Britain, started badly and then got a yellow flag on the downwind. But he pulled back on the subsequent legs to cross in sixth place.

Lobert had an even worse first leg, rounding the first mark in last place and having a lot of work to do to keep a medal or take the title. He made some ground downwind and on the second upwind and then moved up to fifth on the final downwind, which was just enough for the silver medal.

Salminen controlled his main opponents and defended against Lobert and Wright. But the title nearly slipped away from him on the final downwind as the pressure dropped out on the left and both boats passed him just before the finish.

 

Jonathan Lobert FRA – photo c Robert Deaves

 

As the fleet crossed the finish line there was some frantic maths to work out who had won what. In the end, it was extremely close, with just three points separating the top four boats. Even the coaches didn’t want to commit for fear of missing a point. But finally the results were known and the celebrations began.

In the final race for the rest, it was quite fitting that the race win went to the new U23 World Champion Oskari Muhonen, from Finland. This gave him an impressive 11th overall in the Finn Gold Cup.

Facundo Olezza, from Argentina, picked up the best U23 prize from Muhonen and Henry Wetherell, from Britain.

Sailing at his first Finn Gold Cup, Heiner commented, “I think it was quite an interesting week, and for sure not what we expected wind wise. In the training days and early races we had quite a decent breeze and finally today we had a bit lighter and the training paid off and I won the medal race.”

“Having said that, I think I lost a few places in the races just by my own mistakes, so I am a bit disappointed with that, so could have got away with a bit more.”

After his first year in the class, “I have spent nearly a year in the Finn now and spent three quarters of the year training with Rafa [Trujillo]. It’s my first Finn Gold Cup and it’s not a bad result if you think about it. I have had a really nice season, but for sure I need to be a bit more consistent on speed. We know how to race, but I need a few extra kg down to be competitive against the big guys in a breeze. So we are going to hit the gym and the supermarkets again.”

 

Nicholas Heiner NED –  photo c Robert Deaves

 

Lobert, who nearly gave up sailing after a disappointing result in Rio last year continues his stellar season.

“It was a very tough week. We did seven very good races and I think I have been sailing very well all week. I was at least five times leading races, but in the end I lost a few points and today I paid the price by finishing second by one point.”

“It’s very, very frustrating, but if someone had told me I would finish second with one point to the gold, I would have been happy. It’s a medal and I am happy to being another one home.”

He adds the silver to the European title and third in Hyeres. “The season has been very good to me, so not to bad for someone who was away for a while after the Olympics.”

On the medal race, “It was very tricky. I thought there was more pressure on the right, so I was protecting that on the first upwind, but it came from the left. But I kept on fighting and came back into the game.”

On the competition, “It was a very intense medal race. We could all play for the medals, and that was very nice. I was really looking forward to going on the water and having a nice race.”

“I think it is good for the Finn to see that there are so many guys and countries and the level of the fleet is always getting better.”

Salminen was also disappointed with his performance in Rio last year.

“It was a devastating medal race in Rio, so that’s why this success is even more sweet now to be able to show to myself that I could pull off a good medal race and do what I need to do”

“It’s been an amazing week and I am just so happy that, even though it was a really light medal race that I managed to finish it off in the best way.”

“I got away really good and managed to control the other bib holders around the course, but then the last downwind the wind died a bit and it got a bit nerve wracking there for a bit.”

He has trained with Lobert for many years. “Beating Jonathan at any event is as big an achievement as winning the world title. He is an amazing opponent and sparring partner, one of the best who pushed me each and every day.”

On Balaton “I tried not to have any expectations about sailing here. I knew there could be some waiting on shore, but especially the first half of the week was amazing, with really good racing. It’s challenging for any venue to host a event like this with 100 plus Finns, so it’s been a positive surprise to me.”

“This has been the target all year and we were trying to train in the light stuff, but it only really paid off in the last race.”

At the prizegiving he paid tribute to his coach Dayne Sharp, his training partners Lobert and Tapio Nirkko, from Finland, and also to the whole fleet for being such good role models for the sport of sailing and such good examples of sportsmanship.

Finally, thank you to Spartacus Sailing Club and Balatonföldvár for putting on an outstanding Finn Gold Cup, for Opel and the other sponsors, for all the supporters and helpers. The friendly welcome and hospitality the sailors have received has been nothing short of exceptional.

 

Final result (medal race in brackets)

1 SWE 33 Max Salminen 47pts (8)

2 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 48pts (5)

3 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 50pts (1)

4 GBR 11 Ed Wright 50pts (6)

5 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 53pts (2)

6 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 59pts (3)

7 POL 17 Piotr Kula 80pts (10)

8 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 83pts (9)

9 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 92pts (4)

10 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 95pts (7)

 

 

Medal race line-up decided after second day of no racing 

 

 

Opel Finn Gold Cup on Lake Balaton

 

The Finn Gold Cup is an extraordinary collective experience that is second to none in the Finn sailor’s calendar. It brings together sailors from across the world, and across the spectrum of experience and ability. It matches Olympic champions against the best youth in the world; it matches experienced helms against the inexperienced; the young against the old; the knowledgeable against the knowledge hungry; the elite against the club sailor. There is nothing quite like it on the Olympic campaign trail. It is unique to the Finn class and something that is valued and respected by Finn sailors across the world.

It is a fantastic university of sailing with knowledge and experience flowing down and through the fleet, with sailors sharing an understanding of how to sail this simple and yet complex sailboat, both within their own pier groups and most importantly to the new generation of Finn sailors. There are 35 U23 sailors on Balaton this week, all soaking up the experience of the exceptional level of knowledge on offer from the top sailors.

The insight that sailors learn from competing alongside and against such a world-class fleet stay with them for the rest of their lives and set them up to be the world and Olympic champions of the future. You cannot buy this experience; it has to be earned through competing at the Finn Gold Cup. The 113 sailors here are learning this valuable lesson day by day. Even a day spent on shore turns into a valuable learning and bonding experience with conversations and sharing of experience and stories that educate and clarify the magic of sailing a Finn.

Max Salminen of Sweden will go into Sunday’s medal race at the Opel Finn Gold Cup with a seven-point advantage at the top of the leader board after no more races were sailed on Day 6 in Balatonföldvár.

For the second day running no racing was possible, despite a promising forecast. The expected wind arrived far too late to be useful and the time limit expired before a race could be held.

The sailors were held on shore until mid afternoon, until, with the time limit of 16.00 hrs approaching, the fleet was released at 14.20 hrs to wait on the lake to make the best use of any wind. Within 10 minutes the decision was rewarded with a sailable wind, however by the time the sailors arrived at the start line the wind had evaporated.

Thirty minutes later the race committee smelt some wind further south and moved over to investigate. It soon signaled everyone to follow and all support and coach boats were called upon to tow the fleet half a mile south to meet the incoming wind.

Time was tight with the deadline fast approaching, and the race committee did a fantastic job setting up a course and a start line in time to hoist the orange flag at 15.55 hrs, the latest possible time.

However at 1 minute to go before the start the wind shifted 30 to 40 degrees, skewing the start line and the upwind, which meant the race committee had no option but to abandon racing for the day, as the time limit had passed.

So the results from Thursday decide the medal race line-up.

The medal race is planned to be held first on Sunday with any of the top five sailors mathematically capable of winning the title. Only Ed Wright, of Britain, has won the title before, in 2010. After that race has been sailed the final race from 11th and up is scheduled.

 

Medal race sailors

1 SWE 33 Max Salminen 31

2 GBR 11 Ed Wright 38

3 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 38

4 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 48

5 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 49

6 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 53

7 POL 17 Piotr Kula 60

8 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 65

9 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 81

10 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 84

 

Max Salminen maintains lead at Opel Finn Gold Cup 

 

Max Salminen – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Only one race on Thursday and no wind on Friday at the Open Finn Gold Cup at Lake Balaton in Hungary.

Max Salminen, from Sweden, extended his lead to seven points after placing fifth in the only race possible on Day 4. Ed Wright, from Britain, remains in second, while Jonathan Lobert, from France moves up one place to third, on equal points with Wright. The race was won by the 2013 World Champion, Jorge Zarif, from Brazil.

Salminen is the only sailor so far to retain his overnight lead, while most of the top ten remain the same, apart from Anders Pedersen, from Norway, who placed ninth today, and moves into the top ten.

Credit also to Gerardo Seeliger, who celebrated his 70th birthday today with his best result of the series so far, finishing 86th and beating several sailors less than half his age.

After six hours waiting for a stable wind, which shifted through almost 180 degrees during the morning and early afternoon, one late race was sailed in a slowly building breeze, topping out at 13-16 knots. Lobert made the best of the wet upwind as the wind increased past 10 knots and Oscar was raised at the top mark. He was followed round by Zarif and Nenad Bugarin, from Croatia.

Bugarin has sailed an excellent series and would be a title contender but for two letter scores that have left him carrying 114 points, a very high price in a fleet of this size and quality.

 

Jorge Zarif – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Zarif took the lead on the downwind and never really looked threatened for the remainder of the race. Lobert then came under pressure from Zsombor Berecz, from Hungary, on the second upwind, but just managed to stay in front. However, Berecz went wider on the downwind and came into the final mark just ahead to finish second ahead of Lobert.

Pedersen moves into the top 10 for the first time after a shaky start to the week.

“The favoured side changes a lot so it’s hard to keep up on the good side. I had a bit of an unfortunate disqualification in the first race but I have kept my score pretty low since then and have had a pretty good week. So I am happy with my sailing this week, though it could have been a bit better.”

“It’s been very nice conditions, even though it’s been very tricky and very shifty. Though it’s better than we first feared, so it’s been good racing.”

A second place moves Berecz up one place to fifth overall.

He explained his day, “In the afternoon we had a beautiful breeze coming from the south-west. Finally it went good for me and I decided to stop these mid-line starts and I went a bit closer to the pin and finally, it paid off and I rounded about seventh at the top. I had the best speed downwind and I found myself in third place, which I kept on the second upwind, and then on the last downwind I passed Lobert to finish second. So I am really happy how the day went for me.”

Race winner Zarif says this week has been the worst regatta for him in several years, but he remains hopeful.

“I tried to start close to the pin, play a little bit more on the left and tried get the shifts, and I think it was a good race. It’s good to win a Gold Cup race after a very bad week so far for me, but to win a race is always very nice at the Gold Cup. I will try my best over the last three races and try to win a space in the medal race.”

The points gap between the top eight is still pretty close, but in a fleet of 113 boats, a lot can happen very quickly, as many good sailors are finding out.

 

Results after 7 races

1 SWE 33 Max Salminen 31 pts

2 GBR 11 Ed Wright 38

3 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 38

4 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 48

5 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 49

6 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 53

7 POL 17 Piotr Kula 60

8 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 65

9 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 81

10 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 84

 

Highlights video to follow at FINN TV and on Facebook.

No wind on Day 5 so points remain the same.

The fifth day of the Opel Finn Gold Cup  started promising with some nice wind on the lake, but just as the sailors were getting ready to launch, a fog bank rolled in and AP was displayed.

When the fog cleared two hours later, the wind had gone and Balaton remained calm and largely windless through the morning and afternoon. Finally at 15.30 hrs the race office pulled the pin and the sailors dispersed.

There are two days left to sail, with three possible races remaining in the opening series before the final and medal races on Sunday.

 

 

Solid day for Danes who move into the lead

photo © YCGM

 

Nacra 17 Worlds at Yacht Club de la Grande Motte 

 

After a relatively benign, gentle introduction to the Nacra 17 World Championship – the first ever in flying, foiling 2020 Olympic mode, La Grande Motte’s Baie d’Aigue Mortes in the South of France’s Camargue region, progressively turned up the heat as the NW’ly Tramontane breeze kicked in for the afternoon.

A solid 3,4,4, for the day from Denmark’s Lin Ea Cenholt Christiansen and Christian Peter Lubeck moved the Aarhus 2018 World Championship Test regatta winners six points clear of Great Britain’s Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson.

The Tramontane took its time to build. Racing got away in a modest 8-9 kts for the first qualifying heats of the day for both fleets before an enforced break waiting for the forecast breeze, which could be seen tantalisingly close, hovering to the west of the large, open bay before it the white horses of the Camargue finally lined up to produce two excellent contests, taking many of the crews to the edge of control, learning finer points of the processes and pitfalls of the different foiling modes. The offshore breeze had enough reach to windward to kick up some challenging waves at times.

It was a good day for the strong Italian Nacra 17 squad who started their ascent of the leaderboard. Recently crowned European champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti, universally acknowledged as among the fastest teams upwind, bounced back from a bit of a lacklustre first day with a second and first gained as soon as the breeze was in, to move up to third. Best scores of the day came from compatriots Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari who sailed to a 1,2,3 after three midfleet results on Tuesday.

“On our race course surviving was the key.” Tita reported, “We were not doing anything in particular downwind, just surviving and then upwind we were a little faster. The second two races were out of control, it was windy, we were flying some of the time then not flying, jumping. But we are quick upwind and that made a difference.”

Of their upwind speed the Italian helm who raced in Rio in the 49er before partnering up with Banti who has a full quadrennial in the class under her belt, Tita contends, ” There is no secret. I come from the 49er and even if I came to the class looking to fly upwind but it is not working so far. We are sailing like a normal cat upwind and flying only for little spells. On our race course surviving was the key. We were doing nothing in particular downwind, just surviving and then upwind we were a little faster.”

Rio gold medallists Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli capitalised in the first race after an excellent pin end start to put themselves in a position to pounce when the regatta leaders made a mistake at the second top mark.

Helm Christiansen fell off the boat as she completed a swift tack at the mark in front of the Argentinian duo. They sailed past to take their first winning gun of 2017, their first victory together since Rio. Their second race did not go so well as their main traveller broke on the approach to Mark 1, compromised thereafter they finished eighth. With a sixth in the third race Lange and Carranza Saroli are now up to tenth.

“We were top three when we dropped the traveller down and it went ‘bang’. That is a mistake. Every race counts a lot for us for our confidence. I enjoyed the day, it was good fun and we are learning together race by race. Today we learned how much we really have to catch up after my injury. I damaged my ligament in my knee reaching on Garda when Santi fell on it. We had sailed for ten days and then I was out for three weeks. So it is good to be back.” Recalled Saroli.

For Spain’s double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez, lack of training time in the Nacra 17 may be compensated for by sheer experience, a clear head and focus and the sheer drive promoted by missing out on Rio selection. Now having been sailing for six months with Olga Maslivets, Martinez explained they have done little training since the Iberostar Princesa Sofia Regatta and missed the Europeans, but they have done some Moth sailing and he has been busy with the GC32 circuit racing. They won the third heat in the breeze today, their second race win of the series after triumphing in Race 1 and move up to fifth overall.

Martinez smiled, “For us, this is just the start of the story and so we don’t want to be putting pressure on ourselves this early. But we had a good day with 4,7,1, winning a race in the breeze is good. We keep learning together. Even though we decided on this Olympic campaign six months ago we have not yet done that much sailing together and so to win today is good. In the stronger wind, you had to sail well under spinnaker and we did that. As long as the seas are flat it’s fine. We pushed a bit harder in that last race. I think everyone feels the same, we will all get better with more training. And after all the problems we had with the boats it is great to be here and to have a championship started and under way.”

Thursday is the last day of qualification races before Friday and Saturday’s Finals racing. The local forecast is for a day similar to today, light winds in the late morning before the Tramontane NW’ly returns.

Full results can be found here.

 

Max Salminen leads after snakes and ladders third day 

 

Max Salminen – photo c Robert Deaves

 

 

Opel Finn Gold Cup at Lake Balaton

 

Max Salminen, from Sweden, is the third leader in three days at the Opel Finn Gold Cup at Balatonföldvár on Lake Balaton. The ever-tricky wind caused a few more high scores, while a few of those at the top maintained their consistency. Ed Wright, from Britain, moves up to second with Nicholas Heiner, from the Netherlands, who won the first race of the day, in third. Piotr Kula won the second race.

Both races on Day 3 were started under black flag as the fleet seemed overly keen to get the racing underway. Race 5 was a left hand favoured course with most of the fleet heading out towards the eastern shoreline of Balaton to get the best wind. Heiner led round the top mark from Milan Vujasinovic, from Croatia, and Ioannis Mitakis, from Greece. Heiner pulled away downwind and was never really threatened to record his first win of the week in his first Finn Gold Cup.

However the battle behind him was pretty intense, with lots of place changes. In the end Jake Lilley, from Australia, came through for second ahead of the British pair of Henry Wetherell and Wright.

The wind was starting to drop as Race 6 was started, but Oscar was raised at the first top mark as the wind returned. Some heavy cloud came down the lake threatening rain, but the day remained dry.

Lilley continued his good form by leading round the top mark in Race 6 from Kula and new U23 World Champion, Oskari Muhonen, from Finland. The first downwind was kind to Kula who pulled ahead as the wind died again to around 6-7 knots. He maintained his lead to the finish, though was pushed hard on the second downwind by Muhonen and Lilley. Heiner came through in the last stages of the downwind to round the find, shortened, downwind mark inside Lilley to take third.

 

Nicholas Heiner – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Heiner is now up to third, nine points off the lead.

“Slowly getting into the event and today was a really nice day. It was decently steady for Balaton. We’ve had three great day’s sailing so far, and not really what we expected from Balaton. But so far, so good.”

“I spent the first two days trying to get the feel of the leverage with the big fleet and today I got a bit more into that. In the end I think it’s just about winning your side and keeping an eye out for the other extremes and see how they go.”

“Today with the second race, it was quite tricky. The big cloud came over, so I just had a plan. It’s always a tricky one. Do you go for a side and get the leverage or do you start out of the middle and just play the fleet? And that changes race by race.”

“You always have a plan, but if you see something starting to happen then at least you need to have the possibility to come across and make something decent out of it.” In the second race, “Even two minutes on port trying to get back to the right, made a huge difference at the top mark.”

Kula stays in fifth place, discarding his 68th in the first race today.

“I didn’t do well out of the first black flag start today and messed up my race, but wiped my tears away and won the second race.”

In the second race, “I was expecting the left would pay better than the right, but the crowd on the pin was so big, I found a more empty spot on the line and tacked quickly and then I played the shifts and was second at the top.”

How did he turn a disastrous first race into a win in the second?

“I actually started preparing for the second race in the first one. At the second top mark in the first race I was thinking this is hopefully my worst race so the best I can do now is to focus and gather my thoughts and sail nice downwind to set my mind for the next race and this is what I did. I just focussed on myself, focussed on the waves, surfed nicely and basically on the finish line I swallowed this bitter pill and just focussed on the next one.”

Salminen had the third best day of anyone on the water and takes a four-point lead at the top.

“Another good day for me. I am happy to be up there in almost every race so far. That’s what I wanted to do. It’s not about winning races, just about dodging those bullets that can get really hairy in a fleet of 113 boats.”

“It’s hard to manage to risk out there especially when you don’t really know what you are going to get. So far the left has been paying, but on the second race today almost all the guys at the top came from the right, so it’s hard. I think speed is your only weapon that will always be there, so good speed and good starts for sure.”

 

Huge leverage in Race 6 – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Finn sailors have many challenges when racing in Gold Cup fleets, but Mikael Hyrylainen, from Finland, had a rather unique challenge today, trying to get a snake out of his boat between races. Loitering somewhere in the depths of his boat for the first race, his slithery friend, named Frank, made an appearance and it took Mikael some effort, balanced on the foredeck, to force the snake back to the cockpit, where he was duly dispatched back into the Balaton depths.

As the sailors came ashore lake became windless for the first time since the event opened. Racing is scheduled to continue at 10.00 Thursday, but some forecasts would indicate a delayed start is possible.

At the half way stage there is no clear leader. Finding the 2017 Finn World Champion could turn into one of the most interesting battles yet. There are plenty of snakes to slide down and ladders to climb.

Check out the links below to follow the racing on Twitter and Facebook. Most mark roundings and finishes are broadcast on Facebook Live through the Finn Class page.

 

Results after six races

1 SWE 33 Max Salminen 26

2 GBR 11 Ed Wright 30

3 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 35

4 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 35

5 POL 17 Piotr Kula 43

6 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 47

7 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 49

8 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 49

9 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 61

10 FIN 8 Oskari Muhonen 69

 

Highlights video to follow at FINN TV and on Facebook.

 

Jonathan Lobert leads after day 2 on Balaton

 

Jonathan Lobert – Photo c Robert Deaves

 

 

Opel Finn Gold Cup at Balaton, Hungary

 

Jonathan Lobert, from France, has taken the lead at the Opel Finn Gold Cup at Balatonföldvár, Hungary. Though he led both races on Day 2 at some point, the tricky Balaton breeze got the better of him twice and the race wins went to Brit, Ed Wright and Swede, Max Salminen. Salminen is now in second with Facundo Olezza, from Argentina, third.

The forecast was for slightly less wind than Monday and from further to the south. But it was still shifty and tricky with many place changes through the fleet. Huge gains and losses could be made with a few lucky, or unlucky, decisions.

Race 3 got away first time in 10-14 knots. Jake Lilley, from Australia, rounded first from Lobert and Ioannis Mitakis, from Greece. Lobert flew down the run to lead through the gate and looked to be heading for a win. However, a big right-hand shift on the second beat shuffled the leading pack, with new U23 World Champion, Oskari Muhonen, from Finland, leading Wright round the final top mark.

Nicholas Heiner, from the Netherlands, also made gains and was soon chasing the leaders downwind and just moved into second just before the final mark, with Mitakis moving back up to third. Lobert crossed some way back in ninth.

 

Max Salminen – photo c Robert Deaves

 

 

It took some time to get Race 4 away. The wind initially started to drop, but after a 30 minute postponement, was back up to 10-12 knots. One general recall and two black flag starts pulled out seven boats, including overall leader Nenad Bugarin, from Croatia. Lobert was again in front at the top mark, after favouring the middle left, from Arkadiy Kistanov, from Russia, and Salminen. The same three led through the gate, but on the second upwind, the left side came in, with Lobert being more conservative in the middle, and losing out again.

Salminen came past at the top and extended downwind for a comfortable win. Lobert hung on for second and let a tightly packed group across the line with Olezza also gaining hugely to cross third.

Oliver Tweddell, from Australia, almost didn’t make it to the event, suffering from a broken finger. Only given the go ahead last week he is glad he made the decision, as he is now in 13th place, and top Australian, after a reasonable start to the week.

“It was quite an interesting day. We had big right-hand phases, followed by left-hand phases. It was quite shifty but it made the racing really interesting. I had a reasonable day.”

“It’s going to be a quite high scoring regatta, and especially considering my broken finger I am happy hanging in there when we’ve had free pumping every race.” He is hoping for no more free pumping for the rest of the week.

 

Facundo Olezza – photo c Robert Deaves

 

Olezza moves up to third after three top four places in a row.

“It’s very tricky because there are a lot of boats and it is very shifty and puffy all over the race course, so sometimes you just need to be a little bit lucky, and just look around.”

He is also not at his best this week with an illness. “Tough four races, with full free pumping. I am not in my best shape but will just sail the best I can. The first race [Monday] was not so good for me, but the next three were all top five so I am happy with that and looking forward to some more consistency.”

Wright has perhaps the most inconsistent scoreline so far with two wins, a 58th and a 19th. The former World Champion sits in 12th overall.

After winning the first race today, he was very deep in the second and struggling.

“It wasn’t looking too good at one stage. It’s one of those places where you can take some big chunks out of the fleet on the shifts. I managed to get lucky and round the second top mark pretty well. I went right at the bottom and left at the top. I think the right just ran out of pressure and I had a nice pressure on the left.”

“It’s quite choppy so a bit more pressure over the waves is a big help.”

Lobert could have come ashore with two bullets, but was nevertheless still less happy with a 9,2.

“In the first race I missed the right shift, and in the second race, I was a bit scared from the right in case it happened again so I was staying in the middle, and then it came from the left. You cannot control everyone.”

“It’s a bit frustrating but in those conditions you have to take what you have and in the end it’s two top ten, which is good, and will be a good average. It was a good day in the end.”

 

Nicholas Heiner – photo c Robert Deaves

 

 

It’s a big fleet with big start lines, big shifts and big pressure changes, with lots of sailors already picking up some big points. So it’s no real surprise that only one person in the top 10 has won a race. That could all change tomorrow when with one more race the discard comes in and we start to get a real picture of what is happening. Initial forecasts showed the wind dipping towards the end of the week, so all the sailors will be keen to make every race count.

Check out the links below to follow the racing on Twitter and Facebook. Most mark roundings and finishes are broadcast on Facebook Live through the Finn Class page.

 

Results after four races

1 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert FRA 27

2 SWE 33 Max Salminen SWE 31

3 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza ARG 37

4 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis GRE 38

5 POL 17 Piotr Kula POL 42

6 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner NED 52

7 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz HUN 57

8 CZE 5 Ondrej Teply CZE 62

9 GBR 91 Ben Cornish GBR 66

10 GBR 1 Henry Wetherell GBR 74

 

Highlights video to follow at FINN TV and on Facebook.

 

by Robert Deaves

 

 

Nenad Bugarin masters Balaton breeze on opening day 

 

Nenad Bugarin – Photo c Robert Deaves

 

2017 Opel Finn Gold Cup

 

Nenad Bugarin, from Croatia, is the early leader at the 2017 Opel Finn Gold Cup at Balatonföldvár, Hungary. Two very tricky races in shifty and patchy conditions left much of the fleet with at least one high score, but home favourite, Zsombor Berecz is second, with Piotr Kula, from Poland, in third. Ed Wright, from Britain, won the first race, while Bugarin won the second.

The time for preparation had ended and it was time to race. In the end, 113 Finns made it to the start line for some tight and tricky racing with the wind shifting hugely and varying from 10-16 knots.

After two false starts and a general recall, Oisin Mcclelland, from Ireland, rounded the top mark in Race 1 in first place after favouring the middle right. Jonathan Lobert, from France, was second at the top and briefly took the lead downwind before the right side came past in more pressure. But it was Wright, who led through the gate and extended up the second beat with a nice lead.

The right side came in strong on the second beat with Anders Pedersen, from Norway, coming through into second. The fleet closed up on Wright on the final downwind as the search for pressure became paramount. Lobert came through for second at the finish, while Berecz passed some boats to cross third.

There were huge pressure changes across the course, as well as wind shifts to cope with, and with such a large fleet the leverage from left to right was massive. If Race 1 was hard enough race 2, was about to get a whole lot harder.

Race 2 was started without Oscar, though it was raised at the top mark as the wind passed 10 knots. The corners were strong with those who bailed out of the left early struggling at the top. Facundo Olezza, from Argentina, rounded first from Deniss Karpak, from Estonia and Bugarin.

Karpak had been third for a while in the first race but had got lost on the second beat and dropped 20 places. In the second race he was good enough to hold his position and the top three boats separated from the fleet. Bugarin sailed well to take the lead on the second upwind and then sailed away from the fleet for a comfortable win, from Olezza and Karpak.

Lobert, the current European Champion, ended the day in fifth overall, and was happy with his day, despite a 15th in the second race.

“It’s hard to say what to do today. It was just ‘where is the wind’? I was just trying to use what I had and make the best of it.”

“In the first race we didn’t tack so much as they were quite big gusts and big shifts, but in the second race, it was very tricky. I think there were two winds, one from the right and sometimes one was coming from the left so you had to be at the right place when the wind was coming in. I was a bit unlucky at the beginning but at the end the left came back and it was a good call.”

Fourth placed Max Salminen, from Sweden, said, “I think the fleet was really keen to get racing, and we saw that at the start of the first race, but once we got away we had a really good race. It was shifty as we expected and back and forth and you had to be on your toes all the time – but that’s lake sailing.”

“I think in this big fleet and in these conditions, you have to be happy with what you get.”

 

Zsombor Berec – photo c Robert Deaves

 

The pressure on the race area is matched by the local pressure placed on the shoulders of Berecz, who delighted local supporters to end the day in second overnight.

“In the first race, I was always in the front. The second was a bit tougher for me as I missed one shift at the very last quarter of the first upwind and I put myself back into about 40th. But on the second upwind I gained it all back and managed to finish sixth, so a good day for me.”

Asked whether local knowledge gave him an advantage, “I don’t know this water at all. I know the other side much more. I was only sailing here when I was in Optimists, but actually, around the lake, it’s all the same in this wind direction. It’s very tricky, changing every two minutes or so, so let’s say I am quite used to it.”

Any secrets? “We can say there is a tendency in the wind and if you can find it and you can use it your way, then you can succeed.”

But the undisputed star of the first day was Bugarin. A fourth and a first is a great performance on a challenging day.

“I managed to have two good races. I did well all the time. It was tricky outside and my strategy was just to stay in clear air all the time and have the freedom to tack. That’s pretty much it.”

“Before the starts, I didn’t have a vision of what to do and the strategy was just to sail fast in clear air and I managed to do that two times and had really good speed upwind and downwind, so I am pretty happy after the first day.”

As one old and wise coach offered today, that in conditions like these, you are either very good or very unlucky. The good and the unlucky enjoyed a pizza party after racing and can look forward to two more races on Tuesday in slightly less wind but probably at least the same amount of trickiness.

Racing continues Tuesday at 10.00.

Follow the races using the links below.

 

 

Results after two races

1 CRO 52 Nenad Bugarin 5

2 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 9

3 POL 17 Piotr Kula 12

4 SWE  33 Max Salminen 13

5 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 16

6 EST 2 Deniss Karpak 21

7 CZE 5 Ondrej Teply 21

8 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 25

9 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 29

10 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 30

 

Full results here.

 

 

Danes & Brits take 9er world titles in Porto

 

 

FX gold for Denmark’s Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen at the 49er Worlds in Portugal – photo © Maria Muina / www.sailingshots.es

 

49er & FX World Championship at Clube de Vela Atlântico – Overall

 

Denmark’s Hansen/Iversen and Britain’s Fletcher/Bithell take their first ever World titles on intense final day in Porto

 

Another day meant another obstacle from mother nature at the 2017 International 49er and FX World Championship, where an unstable land breeze teased the gold medal fleets on Saturday morning for their 10am start. Both the men’s 49er and the women’s FX skiff started races in 6-10 knots of Easterly breeze, only to see the wind shut off completely as they headed to their respected finish lines.

Some of the 140 teams from 27 nations were jumpy with anticipation and all enjoyed the warm summer Portuguese sun as they waited on the water for the forecast Northerly to fill in, and after nearly 2 and a half hours, it filled quickly. 8 knots became 12 became 16 gusting near 20 knots, allowing the men’s 49er fleet to pick up four more races and complete their championship.

The women’s FX fleet sailed two races before heading back to shore, and with the race deadline drifting close, officials sent the top ten teams out to the medal racing course – a tight, intense racetrack putting boat-handling and boat-on-boat tactics at a premium for thousands of beach-goers just meters from the action.

Spectators were treated to a full brawl between these top female athletes, with three teams from three different continents battling for the all-important podium spots and the title of 2017 World Champion. It was Rio 2016 all over again, and when leading Rio Bronze medallists Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen (DEN) capsized with a huge lead during the penultimate race of the event, Rio Gold winners Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze pounced, taking a 2nd place with third place Alex Malone and Molly Meech (NZL, Rio Silver Medallists) took the win.

“We actually let the mainsheet go at the top mark to be sure we wouldn’t have any problems, and a huge gust hit us at that moment and took us over,” said Hansen.

“We got a little annoyed but it was not the end of the world, and we knew in the final race we just needed to be close to the Brazilians to take the win.”

They’d pass Grael and Kunze anyway, and as they hoisted their Danish flag over their heads their boat capsized, the duo popping up quickly on the overturned boat, hugging and laughing. Hansen said her year off from 49er sailing was just what she and Iversen needed to win.

“We rediscovered each other this week, and maybe the key to our week was our relaxed feeling. And now it’s on to the next thing!”

Hansen will travel to Lisbon to meet with her Volvo Ocean crew-mates aboard Vestas 11th Hour Racing next week.

“It was exciting to be battling for the win against the other teams on the podium in Rio,” said Grael, who said she was extremely happy with their result.

“It’s way beyond what we expected because of all the other things we’ve been involved with, and we came to this championship a bit unprepared.” She will also be heading to join a Volvo Ocean Race team in the coming weeks.

Kiwi duo Maloney/Meech couldn’t finish the regatta with the form they began with; despite a blistering performance in the earlier rounds and a lead through the first half of the championship, they were relegated to the bronze position.

The championship wrapped up with an award heavily featuring the volunteers who played a huge part in keeping the championship on track, followed by a party for all the sailors.

 

Gold for Great Britain’s Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell at the 49er Worlds in Portugal – photo © Maria Muina / www.sailingshots.es

 

Reigning European 49er Champions Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell (GBR) had a smoother road than the Danish champs to their first-ever World Championship win, but training partners James Peters and Fynn Sterritt still had a mathematical chance to take them down going into the final race of the championship.

“We knew we were guaranteed a silver going into the last race and the only way James and Finn could beat us was to win it with us getting 4th or worse,” said Fletcher, who stayed on top of Peters to the windward mark.

“We thought we’d done the job and the job was over, but we let them split from us and it was looking bad for a little while with us pretty far back,” he said. As they’ve done in race after race the European champions battled right back, eyes glued to Peters and Sterritt on the other side of the course.

“We were a little nervous but it was a long way for them to get into the lead, and that’s how it ended.”

Peters/Sterritt would complete the front row lockout for the British Sailing Team by taking their first Worlds podium, with Austrian standouts Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl finishing out the money spots and the 2017 Worlds.

One secret spectator was especially interested in the results: Rio Gold medallist, new America’s Cup champion wing trimmer, Mapfre Volvo Ocean Race crew and 4-time World Champion crew Blair Tuke watched the finals from the water before joining the broadcast team in the studio to discuss the reasons for his trip to Porto.

“We’ve made it no secret that Pete and I love sailing the 49er, we’ll wait until the Volvo is over, see how the Cup shapes up, and we’d love to give the 49er fleet another crack,” said Tuke. When commentators pressed him to commit to his return, he made it clear it was a priority but stopped short of giving a date.

“It’ll be a year before the Volvo is finished, so we’ll have a chat then and figure out if we’re ready for the challenge of the 49er again,” he said.

 

Event website: 49er.org/event/2017-world-championship

 

 

Capsizes shake up FX semifinal leaderboard 

 

Photo © Ricardo Pinto

 

Day 5 – 49er & FX World Championship at Clube de Vela Atlântico, Porto

 

The Portuguese tradewinds were in full howl over Matosinhos, Portugal as Day 5 dawned on the 2017 49er/FX World Championships. With the top 20 qualifiers advancing to the gold fleet semifinal round and the remainder battling for silver, only the teams who could keep their boats upright would avoid falling in the results.

Olympic silver medallists Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen (DEN) have never won a World title, but the only top women’s team to avoid a capsize may be on the verge of their first. The powerful Danish team achieved a mid fleet first race in 12-15 knots, but there was no looking back from that point on as they went on to a 1,2,1 in the final three races.

“Katja and I talked a lot about the techniques and manoeuvrers so we were always on the same page,” Hansen said. She added that they ‘fell down on our butts a few times in the middle of a gybe, but we were always able to save it.”

Hansen and Iversen were still in the boat park hours after racing ended. We’re making some new trapezes to make sure they last for tomorrow,”

Hansen explained to a reporter. “Confidence in our gear is one of the most important things to have in this breeze.” When asked what message she wanted to send to her fans, Hansen pulled no punches. “Tomorrow you’ll see more kicking butt, we’ll be fully switched on as we are every day out there.”

Hansen/Iversen may sit on a significant 5-point lead, but if not for a single capsize from each of the three teams just behind, they might still be in fourth place. The most heartbreaking swim came surprisingly in the slightly lighter air of race 2, when the British Sailing Team’s Charlotte Dobson and Saskia – who’d sailed a perfect race to that point with a huge lead – flipped just meters from the finish. “We had an awkward angle for that final gybe right on top of the gate mark, and with the skewed waves it was a tough manoeuver and we didn’t get it done,” said Dobson.

Dobson/Tidey would currently lead the Championship had they sailed that final 20 meters without a hitch, but Tidey says it’s all part of sailing.

“That’s the game of sailing, isn’t it, and we’ve got another day to go out and give it our all,” she said. “You have those moments and you just have to put them out of your mind and reset, and just go out and give it everything you’ve got again.” Tidey and Dobson did just that: Their 3,4,4 results in the other races have them sitting in fourth place, and while it’s an uphill battle to get to the top of the leaderboard, Tidey says there is no quit in them. “We will go out there and send it around the course as the strongest team on the course, and give it socks!” Tidey said cryptically.

Olympic gold and silver medallists Grael/Kunze and Maloney/Meech each capsized once in the final, ultra-windy race, finishing seconds from each other in 10th and 11th position. They sit in the silver and bronze positions going into the final day of action.

As the FX fleets finished racing for the day, PRO David “CJ” Campbell-James abandoned all racing for the day. “31 knots on the course, massive seas, and no real prospect of any relief until sundown… it’s frustrating, but going out there now would be unsafe so we’ll resume in the morning,” said CJ.

 

 

Photo © Maria Muina / www.sailingshots.es

Men’s 49ers abandoned on penultimate day of worlds

 

Surprisingly for a team with a solid lead for what would be their first-ever World Title, 2017 European Champions Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell were disappointed to have missed more sailing.

“With the way we’ve been sailing in this breeze, we were looking forward to the opportunity to put more good finishes on the board and go have some fun,” said Fletcher as he inspected every inch of their boat.

The team scored three straight bullets to take the lead on Thursday, and with their boat in perfect preparation, they’re feeling good about their chances.

“Yesterday was awesome fun – it’s exactly why we sail the 49er, and a big confidence builder with the upwind and downwind pace we had,” said Fletcher. “We hope the breeze plays ball and we can put on a bit of a show for everybody.”

 

The End Is Nigh

The final day of racing begins at 1000 hrs on Saturday with the men’s 49ers, with the FX fleet following. Weather permitting, the medal races – short, intense races for the top 10 teams in each fleet – will take place in the early afternoon.

 

Event website: 49er.org/event/2017-world-championship

 

 

Big waves and strong northerly at 9er Worlds in Porto

 

photo © Ricardo Pinto

 

49er &  FX World Championship at Clube de Vela Atlântico, Portugal

 

Maloney & Meech rock FX fleet with four wins in big northerly

 

For four years, three teams have worked together as training partners for the benefit of them all, even as they battled at every event for gold and glory in the 49er FX, the women’s Olympic skiff class. They’ve fought over World and European Championships, they’ve fought over World Cups, and their battle for Olympic Gold wasn’t over until the final leg of the final race in Rio De Janeiro – and all three teams medalled.

We’re talking about Rio gold medallists Martine Grael/Kahena Kunze (BRA), silver winners Alex Maloney/Molly Meech (NZ), and Bronze winners Jena Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN), and it’s no surprise to anyone that three perennial performers top the 2017 World Championship leaderboard at the conclusion of the Qualifying Rounds for the 49er FX.

Meech says she was surprised with their blinding 1,2,1,1 performance in 15-20 knots of Portuguese Trades and combined seas of 2 metres.

“We’ve always liked windier conditions, but still we were surprised with our performance in such a tough fleet without the best starts,” said Meech, who runs the front of the boat while Maloney helms at the back.

“We were aiming for good, consistent results to finish out the qualification rounds, but Alex and I were really in sync with each other and sometimes that can be the most important thing.”

Maloney and Meech showed an incredible turn of speed on every downwind run in the sporty seas, but still, Meech was a bit surprised with their speed advantage over nearly every other team in their split fleet.

“Normally we’re in the front with the top boats upwind, but downwind was really tricky today just trying to deal with the big waves,” said Maloney.

Due to the fleet splits, the two Kiwi standouts haven’t yet faced Grael and Kunze at this Worlds, but they’re sure that the Brazilian gold medalists – along with Denmark’s Hansen and Iversen – will bring their best to the 20-boat Gold fleet tomorrow morning.

“We’ve trained with the Brazilians quite a lot over the past four years and with Katja and Jena as well, and whenever we’ve been sailing together with them,

we’re always pushing each other to the edge,” said Meech. Hansen agreed;

“We’re fast in part because they’ve helped to make us fast, and they’re fast because we’ve helped them too,” said the Danish skipper.

Past World Champions and Rio Olympians Tamara Echegoyan and Berta Betanzos suffered in the big breeze – a surprise to many who’ve followed these powerful, experienced sailors for years. Several ragged capsizes made it a long, wet day for the Spanish duo, but they held on to 13th place, escaping the gold fleet cutoff of 20.

As the women’s fleets returned to the Club de Vela Atlantico, the breeze picked up yet another notch, settling in at a brisk 20 knots from due North. Capsizes, gear failures, and even seasickness beat up numerous crews, but none of it fazed newly crowned European Champions Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell at all. The British Olympic skipper and his new-for-2017 crew (a former Olympic medalist in the 470 Class) couldn’t put a foot wrong today, taking all three races on the Alpha course and carrying a four-point lead into the Gold Fleet action on Friday.

 

© Maria Muina / www.sailingshots.es

 

Fletcher & Bithell come on strong with three bullets

 

It was moving day for Diego Botin and Iago Lopez, the young Spanish duo notching a 2,3,5 score to overcome yesterday’s UFD and move into second place overall – their best ever current position at a Worlds. For Botin the position is good but he knows it doesn’t mean much, especially with two boats tied with them on points.

“Everything will be decided tomorrow and Saturday, we’re basically starting over now,” said Botin, who nearly threw away Race 5 with a capsize at the top mark. “I dropped the tiller at the last tack at the top mark so we flipped, but we were lucky the wind was so strong and so many of the other boats had problems,” said Botin.

Lopez explained that the runs were extremely tough to handle; “The waves were nasty downwind, requiring big eases of the gennaker every five seconds or so,” he said. “Also finding a flat spot for the gybe was rare, and that’s why you saw so many teams overstanding the bottom marks.”

The strong German sailors we wrote about yesterday continued to excel in the big breeze, with two veteran and two youth teams advancing to Gold Fleet at the end of the day – double the number of any other nation. While the success of Schmidt/Boehme (3rd) and Heil/Ploessel (6th) after Day 4 surprised no one, youth sailors everywhere should rejoice to see two young German teams advance to the Worlds Gold Fleet for the first time. Nils Carstensen (22) and Jan Frigge (23) pulled an ultra-consistent 8,7,7 in the ultra-chaotic conditions to take 15th place after 6 races, while Jakob Meggendorfer and Andreas Spranger squeaked through into the semi-final round in the last available position – 20th place.

The 20 and 21 year old phenoms seem to eat big breeze for breakfast – they showed poise and speed far beyond their years in Kiel when the winds came on at the European Championship, and they continued their heavy weather excellence today in Porto despite several capsizes and a major equipment issue. “Strong wind is so fun, but we didn’t expect to be so fast against some of these teams,” said Meggendorfer. And fast they were; the duo recorded some of the highest speeds on the water today, recovering well from their capsizes to advance to the next round. “Our coach says boat speed is king, so even if we have some problems, at least we have that!” said Spranger.

 

photo © Ricardo Pinto

 

More Summer fun

Weather forecasts show a continuation of the summer trade wind pattern, with Northerly winds of 12-17 knots and lumpy seas on tap for a full day of racing on Friday.

Event website: 49er.org/event/2017-world-championship

 

 

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