The largest ever OK Dinghy event ever to be held outside Europe begins in just over 10 days in Auckland, New Zealand. The Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship has attracted 110 entries and is being held at Wakatere Boating Club on Auckland’s North Shore from 7-15 February.
The fleet is about as diverse and deep as any OK Dinghy fleet in recent years with former world champions, Olympic champions and America’s Cup stars all mixing it up in the huge fleet. Some will be sailing their first world championship, while some are well past 20 editions.
As well as the large number of entries from Australia and New Zealand, there are also entries from Britain, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Sweden and the USA. Containers of boats have arrived from Europe and Australia and are being unloaded ready for racing to start next week. The New Zealand National Championship is being held over the weekend of 2-3 February as a warm up for the world championship, with racing beginning on the 10 February.
Simon Probert, the commodore of Wakatere Boating Club, and also competing in the event, said, “The excitement is really starting to build. The first of the containers and the competitors have arrived and some have even been seen on the water. Wakatere is thrilled at the response of the local fleet and around the world at the chance to sail in New Zealand. To have a fleet of 110, or possibly more, is a testament to the growth we have seen locally over the last 10 years and also the strength and growth of the international fleet.”
“The Wakatere OK sailors are some of the friendliest you’ll meet anywhere and the team made sure we had people attending the OK Worlds and Europeans last year to talk to people about coming to New Zealand and joining us in our summer. We think that really made a difference in the numbers we have seen here for this regatta.”
“We have seen huge growth at our club where we have over 40 OKs registered with regular fleets of over 20 out for club racing.”
New Zealand has had its fair share of success at the World Championship over the past 55 years and has hosted the event on six occasions previously though the last time it was in Auckland was 1986. Kiwi sailors have lifted the title a total of 12 times, but only one of these, Greg Wilcox, will be sailing this year.
Wilcox, who was world champion in 2002, and later, served as President of the OK Dinghy Association (OKDIA), commented, “The level in the class at the moment is just huge. I think it will be a struggle just to make the top 10 this year. It is awesome that the class has attracted so many top sailors from other classes but it just makes our work on the water that much harder, but also that much more fun. How many other classes can you say you are racing alongside Olympic champions and America’s Cup winners?”
“OKDIA has put in a huge amount of effort over the last 5-10 years to really build the class and make it attractive to those who want quality, fun and sociable racing, against some of the best sailors in the world. And we have so many really good boat builders these days, that it makes the fleet far more attractive and accessible than 15-20 years ago.”
“I think part of the success has been down to the excellent choice of venues. We went to Barbados, and then last year to Warnemunde where we had 140 entries, and then Bandol for the Europeans, which was an astonishing success. After Auckland we have events lined up in Marstrand, Garda and Lyme Regis. It doesn’t look like I will be retiring any time soon.”
One of the top local sailors is Ben Morrison, who won the National title two years ago. He said, “With its friendly locals, great weather, beautiful scenery, and high public interest in sailing, New Zealand makes a great venue for a sailing contest.”
He thinks the OK Dinghy is popular because it offers traditional racing and is more accessible than many classes.
“As the foiling generation concentrates on achieving ever longer and more stable flight, there is still a place in many sailors’ hearts for traditional dinghy sailing with its ever-fascinating challenges of tactics, fitness, and boat-handling, and with the simple joy of easily rigging a boat that can sail in almost any conditions, wheeling it into the water and just going sailing.”
Matthew Mason made a name for himself in the Whitbread Round the World Race as well as being involved in six America’s Cup campaigns, including four wins. He is looking forward to the upcoming championship. “Getting back into dinghies after 40 years of not sailing a centreboarder keeps it real. I love the camaraderie of this class, it is like nothing else.”
The strong Kiwi team includes three-time Olympian, Dan Slater, who has been in the class for a few years now but yet to win a major event. Also from the home club, America’s Cup star, Rod Davis, has been putting in the hours, while current National champion Luke O’Connell from Worser Bay in Wellington will be looking to go one better than his silver medal in 2014. He also took bronze in 2017.
Probert concluded, “The Devonport community, Wakatere BC members and the NZ OK sailors are ready to welcome our visitors and we are all confident this will be a memorable Ok Worlds and pre-worlds fortnight with many new memories and stories to ad the legacy of the class.”
In Part 2 of this preview we will look at some more of the favourites who will be contesting the world title.
by Robert Deaves
Final day of Star Sailors League Finals Qualifying
While the star performers today certainly were Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening and Paul Cayard, significant to more competitors was what was happening mid-fleet. For Friday was the final Qualifier races to be held at the Star Sailors League Finals in Nassau.
Crews finishing the Qualifiers in third to tenth positions would progress on to the Quarter Finals. From here the top five would go to the Semi-Finals and meet the second placed Qualifier finisher. The top three Semi-Finalists would then meet the winner of the Qualifiers in the Final. All these stages are single race affairs taking place on Saturday.
Sadly the 15 teams not making the top ten have been eliminated.
Four races were held today, on the same azure-coloured waters on the plateau off Montagu Bay as yesterday. Conditions with a 10-12 knot northeasterly and built to 15-18, shifting right for the fourth and final race.
Stand-out competitors were once again Olympic legend Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening. The Brazilian duo won three of the day’s four races. In eight out of the 11 races held during the Qualifiers, Scheidt and Boening have finished on the podium. This consistency caused them to finish Qualifiers 22 points ahead of Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih, with Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen in third.
“Yesterday we had a rig check and made a few adjustments,” said Scheidt. “The boat felt better and we were more confident with our speed. We had good starts too and picked the right spots, which put us in front right away. Then we had good speed – all those components together made a big difference. Henry did a great job in the manoeuvres and calling the wind. After we had two good races we felt confident and the rest of the day went really well.”
Paul Cayard and Brazilian Arthur Lopes found both an extra gear and a turbocharger, posting a 2-1-3-14. “We made a little adjustment to the mast last night, which turned out to be quite important and really made a big difference,” explained the Whitbread Round the World Race and Louis Vuitton Cup winner. “We were fast upwind. Perhaps through the confidence we were fast downwind as well.”
Both Cayard/Lopes and the Brazilians did well playing the top left today. “In the northeasterly breeze, that almost always pays and you have current with you,” said Cayard, who has raced here for some 40 years. “And you expect a geographical shift around Rose Island [the low-lying Bahama Island to weather of today’s course] in the morning, when the current is stronger.” Later in the day when the current reverses and the wind goes right, the opposite side can pay.
Today’s score elevated Cayard/Lopes from lowly 14th place to seventh place and into the Quarter Finals. “I am delighted,” continued Cayard. “It was frustrating how hard we were struggling over the first few days. To be fast in all four races today gave me a lot of confidence that we have resolved the problem.”
Around the vital 10th placed slot there were ‘snakes and ladders’. Among those on ‘ladders’ today were Swedish 2012 Star Olympic champion Freddie Lööf and Italian crew Edoardo Natucci. They started the day in 11th place but three results inside the top 10 left them eighth and with a berth in the Quarter Finals.
An OCS in today’s first race, caused Brazilian two time Olypmic medallist Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves, just to remain in the top 10. Not so lucky was Hungarian Finn Gold Cup winner Zsombor Berecz and his veteran Czech crew Michael Maier, who finished 11th despite being tied on points with Grael/Gonçalves.
Others packing their bags tonight include British three time Olympic medallist Iain Percy, racing here with Swedish Star bronze medallist, Anders Ekström. “It was very tiring, but really good fun,” said Percy.
11th hour business commitments sadly caused Percy to miss the first days of the regatta. Today they posted a 9-6-6-6. “I really enjoyed it, but we just turned up and were out of practice, but we didn’t find it frustrating which is nice. We were in the hunt and caught up when we were at the back. It feels great to be back in the boat, it keeps it real and keeps you sailing properly. I would love to come back next year.”
Others heading home include French 470 World Champion Kevin Peponnet, sailing this week with Star and America’s Cup veteran Mark Strube. “It is amazing to sail against these legends. They have shared a lot. I am really happy to be here and gain some knowledge of this boat.” However their performance today wasn’t ideal. “We broke the vang and the main sheet block.”
One of the great surprises has been the performance of Laser Radial Youth World and European Champion, Guido Gallinaro, and his German crew Kilian Weise. They finished the event 19th, their scoreline including an 8th yesterday – not bad for a 17-year-old. “It was a great experience for me,” said Gallinaro. “We had quite good races today. In one we were fourth at the top mark. It was a great week for us.”
Looking forward to tomorrow, Scheidt says they may have won the Qualifiers but now the competition starts afresh: “It doesn’t mean much. We are happy that we are in the Final, but we are going to sail against the best guys and we still have to win that race. It is going to be hard.”
Star Sailors League – Finals – After 11 races, 1 discard (provisional)
1st BRA Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening 33 pts
2nd USA Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih 55 pts
3rd BRA Jorge Zarif and Pedro Trouche 68 pts
4th POL Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki 75 pts
5th ITA Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen 78 pts
6th NOR Eivind Melleby and Joshua Revkin 81 pts
7th USA Paul Cayard and Arthur Lopes 94 pts
8th SWE Freddy Lööf and Edoardo Natucci 97 pts
9th FRA Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot 98 pts
10th HUN Zsombor Berecz and Michael Maier 99 pts
Event Qualification Cut-off
11th BRA Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves 100 pts
12th CRO Tonci Stipanovic and Frederico Melo 104 pts
13th ITA Francesco Bruni and Nando Colaninno 109 pts
14th NZL Hamish Pepper and Steve Mitchell 121 pts
15th SWE Max Salminen and Johan Tillander 129 pts
16th USA Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada 131 pts
17th USA George Szabo and Roger Cheer 137 pts
18th CYP Pavlos Kontides and Markus Koy 143 pts
19th CRO Šime Fantela and Antonio Arapovic 150 pts
20th ITA Guido Gallinaro and Kilian Weise 151 pts
21st FRA Kevin Peponnet and Mark Strube 176 pts
22nd GBR Iain Percy and Anders Ekström 183 pts
23rd CZE Ondrej Teplý and Antonis Tsotras 199 pts
24th ITA Ruggero Tita and Enrico Voltolini 206 pts
25th RUS Georgy Shayduko and Vitalii Kushnir 216 pts
Day 3 – Finals of the Star Sailors League in Nassau
Bahamas conditions set in on day three of the Star Sailors League Finals with 12-18 knots winds from the prevailing northeast-easterly direction. With this wind direction the race committee moved the course out of Montagu Bay, where there were bigger waves, with limited protection from the full force of the Atlantic.Despite being dominated by Olympic Finn sailors, the day ended with a new leader in Mark Mendelblatt and crew Brian Fatih, who now lead Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening by a mere point, going into the last day of the Qualifiers.Fatih, who has sailed with Mendelblatt since they teamed up for London 2012, observed:
“We’re fortunate to be in this position: Robert is an amazing sailor, the benchmark so if you can stay up with him, you’re happy.” However following their 15-4-4 score today, gaining the lead was a surprise.
“It was a struggle – we didn’t feel great on the boat. We weren’t terrible, it just wasn’t as smooth as normal.” However while today’s first race became their discard, Scheidt and Boening had to count their 12th in race two.It may also have been due to the more choppy conditions. “It was a battle trying to keep it in the groove downwind,” Fatih continued.
“Usually from this direction the left is pretty solid, but it was back and forth with some light spots.”
Top scoring helm today was Finn sailor, was Jorge Zarif, the 2013 Finn Gold Cup winner and this year’s Star World Champion, and Pedro Trouche, scoring 4-1-2 today elevated the young Brazilians into third overall.“In the free pumping conditions today – I am from the Finn and that is one of the most important things we do,” Zarif explained.
“We tried to pump and rock as much as we could, although you have to play the waves and shifts as well.”Their race win today came after taking the lead on the second beat after benefitting from a favourable shift on the left. “There was a huge shift there because of the geography,” said Zarif. “But in the third race there was a huge right. There weren’t any clouds saying that. Sometimes you have to follow your gut.
”Losing the race to Zarif was Kiwi-Anglo duo, Hamish Pepper and Steve Mitchell, who had done a fine job recovering from their dismasting in yesterday’s breezy last race.
“It required a bit of effort to tidy up the boat and get rid of all the damage and to find a rig suitable,” admitted Pepper. “We finished it off this morning and our timing pretty good.”Of their day Pepper, the 2006 Star World Champion, was pleased.
“We had two good races – an 8th and a second.” Of race two: “On the second beat we played the middle because it was getting shifty. There were a lot of gains and losses. You couldn’t protect both sides and in the end it favoured the guys on the left.
”This year’s Finn Gold Cup winner, Hungarian Zsombor Berecz posted today’s second best score – 3-6-9 with Czech four time Finn Masters World Champion Michael Maier as crew, leaving them 10th overall. This was despite not finishing yesterday’s last race when they broke a spreader, turning their mast to spaghetti, requiring them to fit a replacement overnight.
“On the water sometimes we had very good speed, but not always. We’ve only had five days on the boat …” said Berecz. “Downwind we were playing it quite safe. We didn’t put the mast forward enough, because we didn’t want to break it.
”Winner of today’s first race were Star veterans France’s Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot, who also benefitted from the left side of the first beat. They lead at the top mark and then were never challenged. “It is a good to have a good plan and to be able to run with it to the end, to play the shifts and be a little bit in front of the pack…it was really a text book race,” said Rohart.
While many found fortune on the top left of the course, in today’s final race Brazilian veteran Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves repeated their tactic from yesterday’s second race, by going hard right, with the same outcome – victory. This has raised them to seven overall.Tomorrow is the final day of Qualifiers at the Star Sailors League Finals and the target is to finish within the top 10 to progress through to Saturday’s Quarter Final. As Zarif observed:
“We have four races to go. It is a long way. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.” At present any of the top 22 teams could still make the cut.
The winner of the Qualifiers fast tracks directly to the Final Race, while second place heads directly to the Semi Final. Those that finish the Qualifiers in third to tenth places, get to race in the Quarter Finals. The top five Quarter Finallists progress through to the Semi Final. The top three from the Semi Finals join the winner of the Qualifiers in the Finals.Winner of the Star Sailors League Finals receives US$ 40,000 from a prize pot of US$ 200,000.
Daily highlights video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T-gbXQ_ZkI&feature=youtu.be
Star Sailors League Finals – after 7 races, 1 discard
1st USA Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih – 22 pts
2nd BRA Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening – 23 pts
3rd BRA Jorge Zarif and Pedro Trouche – 31 pts
4th ITA Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen – 32 pts
5th NOR Eivind Melleby and Joshua Revkin – 39 pts
6th POL Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki – 48 pts
7th BRA Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves – 51 pts
8th FRA Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot – 54 pts
9th USA Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada — 54 pts
10th HUN Zsombor Berecz and Michael Maier – 56 pts
11th SWE Freddy Lööf and Edoardo Natucci – 58 pts
12th CRO Tonci Stipanovic and Frederico Melo – 64 pts
13th NZL Hamish Pepper and Steve Mitchell – 70 pts
14th USA Paul Cayard and Arthur Lopes – 74 pts
15th SWE Max Salminen and Johan Tillander – 74 pts
16th CYP Pavlos Kontides and Markus Koy – 78 pts
17th USA George Szabo and Roger Cheer – 79 pts
18th ITA Francesco Bruni and Nando Colaninno – 81 pts
19th ITA Guido Gallinaro and Kilian Weise – 82 pts
20th CRO Šime Fantela and Antonio Arapovic – 90 pts
21st FRA Kevin Peponnet and Mark Strube – 93 pts
22nd ITA Ruggero Tita and Enrico Voltolini – 121 pts
23rd RUS Georgy Shayduko and Vitalii Kushnir – 126 pts
24th CZE Ondrej Teplý and Antonis Tsotras – 133 pts
25th GBR Iain Percy and Anders Ekström – 156 pts
Lake Garda venue for the Europeans – c Martina Orsini
In the short history of the class, the biggest ever fleet of WASZP’s will assemble at Lake Garda, Italy, from June 28th to July 1st. The European Championships to be held at Fraglia Vela Malcesine has been met with a high level of excitement and anticipation by competitors and supporters.
Over 60 WASZP’s have entered with around 70 expected for the event, this is a sensational effort for a class only two years old. One of the key elements of the WASZP which has the class thriving, is the welcoming nature and large focus on enjoyment and participation. These events are not just for the sailors, they are for friends and families to come and enjoy a four day spectacle and everything the WASZP brand has to offer.
The manufacturer offers complete support on-site with all the knowledge needed to make these boats go fast. There is also a full range of spare parts available and support is always on hand to make sure that the sailors are able to get back on the water if they have an issue. The knowledge in the fleet has come a long way in the past 12 months and everyone now has a good knowledge base to ensure their boats are fully up to speed prior to the event. There is also a three Day Camp conducted by WASZP prior to the event, this was booked out over a month before the event showing how keen the competitors are to learn about the boats.
Fleet at the 2017 Waszp Games at Lake Garda – c Martina Orsini
Another point of difference for the class has been the experimentation with different race formats. One format that is making the sailing world sit up and take notice is the slalom event. Set-up slightly differently to the windsurfing version of this concept, the WASZPs sail through gates down-wind (more akin to downhill ski slalom). This allows the boats to pick their own line and encourage passing lanes.
We are looking forward to streaming this event live on the WASZP Games Facebook page www.facebook.com/waszpgames. All highlights of the championship racing and off water lifestyle will also be available through this page.
There are a number of quality sailors in the event, with a number of ex- Olympic sailors jumping in the WASZP due to its level playing field (One-Design) and its affordability. There is also an international flavour with 2 Australians, Jack Abbott and Tom Trotman, being joined by Bruce Curson from New Zealand. Trotman placed 3rd at the Australian Nationals whilst Abbott was 5th, Curson won the New Zealand Nationals in windy conditions. It will be very interesting how the battle between the Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere unfolds, with the 2019 WASZP Games held in January in Perth, Australia will set the scene with what is expected to be over 100 WASZPs at that event.
Tom Trotman at the Australian Nationals – c Martina Orsini
The WASZP is building incredible momentum with 620 boats shipped worldwide only two years after production began making it the fastest growing high performance boat in the world.
We look forward to bringing this event to a global audience from the 28th June – 1st of July!
WASZP update from Marc Ablett
Red Bull Youth Generation Championships in Auckland
In the City of Sails on February 23-25, New Zealand’s most talented youth sailors delivered thrilling action at the first 2018 stop of Red Bull Foiling Generation – the innovative series created by two-time Olympic champions Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher. Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie triumphed to claim the national championship and will go on to compete in the World Final this November.
Reigning Red Bull Foiling Generation World Champions Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson had claimed the global title for New Zealand in 2016, and with the pair now over the 16-20 age category, anticipation was high to find the Kiwi sailors who will defend the title. Sixteen teams vied for the honour, flying on their foils across Waitematā Harbour. When two days of intense racing concluded on Sunday, McHardie and McKenzie emerged as the class of the field to top the podium. The new national champions will take on an international line-up in the Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final at Miami, USA, on November 16-18, 2018.
“We are absolutely pumped to come away with the win!” says Isaac McHardie. “Unfortunately we didn’t get to race today but we’re really looking forward to Miami and we’re going to give it our all.”
Today’s light wind conditions meant Auckland unfortunately did not see Semi-Final or Final races being able to be completed, therefore the winners were selected from the 11th heat race concluded on Saturday. This heat was decided on the final downwind leg – Jackson Keon & Tom Fyfe who had lead the entire race found themselves looking over their shoulders, as Isaac McHardie & William McKenzie came hard at them, getting to the final mark by a small margin, and sailing on to win the race.
“New Zealand has a passion for sailing, and people recognise that participating in this series can be a step toward a career in the sport,” said Hagara. “Since Olivia and Micah won the World Final in 2016, she has helmed a wildcard boat in the Extreme Sailing Series, and he sailed in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. Plus at least 40 previous participants in Red Bull Foiling Generation are currently in Olympic-class programs for Tokyo 2020.”
Hagara and Steinacher first launched Red Bull Foiling Generation in 2015 to find the world’s most talented young sailors and introduce them to the type of cutting-edge foiling technology used in the America’s Cup. Both males and females participate in two-person teams and race in four-boat heats on Flying Phantom foiling catamarans. After regattas in France and New Zealand, four stops remain to determine national champions in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and the USA before the World Final.
“I think the World Final is going to be even more competitive this year because sailors are more professional” Steinacher commented. “When you watch young sailors like these athletes in New Zealand, you’re seeing the future of the sport, and that’s what Red Bull Foiling Generation is all about.”
Next up: The foils will fly in the Netherlands, when Red Bull Foiling Generation sets sail in The Hague on June 28-30, 2018.
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)
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 – 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
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.
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.
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