The 2013 Finn World Masters has been officially opened at the Société des Régates Rochelaises (SRR) in La Rochelle, France, though Sunday's practice race was cancelled as strong winds, accompanied by incessant rain, kept the sailors ashore all day. A few sailors did venture out for some last minute practice, while the rest preserved their energy for the racing which starts Monday.
After four years of unseasonably warm weather at the Finn World Masters events across Europe, the fleet seems to have run out of luck. La Rochelle is being subjected to strong winds and rain with temperatures struggling to make it over 15 degrees. The sailors here lobbying for the 2015 Masters to be in Greece are doing a strong trade. A vote on that will be held on Wednesday at the Masters meeting.
In spite of the particularly nasty weather, the sailors here are in good spirits enjoying each others company and the facilities of the club and the beautiful town of La Rochelle. The forecast for Monday is for more of the same, but then the outlook is better, though it is not expected to warm up to normal temperatures until the end of the week.
In the traditional way, the event was opened by the Masters President Fons van Gent (NED) handing over the Finn class flag to the SRR President Claire Fountaine (FRA). Claire Fountaine welcomed all the sailors to La Rochelle and apologised for the bad weather but wished everyone “good sailing”.
Pierre Lemaire (FRA), the Principle Race Officer said, “Some of you know me from Maubuisson [at the Finn World Masters in 2009] four years ago. I am sorry we had to cancel the practice race today as the wind was too strong, but I am sure we will have some nice racing tomorrow and through the week ahead.”
Then Jonathan Lobert (FRA), bronze medalist at the London 2012 was introduced. He said, “I am very pleased to see so many people here. There are not so many Finns in La Rochelle but it is growing and a lot of Masters have been training with us. I hope you have a great week and I hope to be part of you guys when I am a little bit older.”
Then van Gent closed by saying, “I am very happy to see you all here again after many years. On behalf of the Masters organisation and the SRR I welcome to all of you to the Masters 2013. I thank the SRR very kindly for hosting our event and we hope the weather will improve, the winds will be less and the sun will shine.”
And then he presented Ms Fountaine with the Finn class flag to declare the championship open. Then followed a drinks reception which was very well received.
In the end, 284 Finn sailors have made it to La Rochelle, making it the largest Finn event of all time. Eight races are scheduled between Monday and Friday, with the first starts on Monday from 14.00.
Follow the racing online at the club website at:http://www.srr-sailing.com/finn-world-master/ as well as on www.finnclass.org and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Finn-Class/110408332633