|These photos were taken from the back of a Finn using a stern mount and a GoPro camera set to time lapse images. A larger gallery will be posted soon.|
They said come to France, it will be sunny and hot. They said the water will be warm and they said it never rains here. They lied. However they were right about one thing. The racing on the opening day of the 2013 Finn World Masters in La Rochelle was simply fantastic. Despite the cold inclement weather, with low cloud, non-stop drizzle and temperatures around 10 degrees, about 95 per cent of the fleet went racing and a grand time was had by all.
The fleet of 285 Finns was split into two starts of around 140 boats each. After the first two races, three times champion Andre Budzien (GER) shares the lead with Erik Lidecis (USA), sailing his first Masters, after both sailors won both races in their respective fleets. Karl Purdie (NZL), in his first year in the Finn is in third after a 4, 2.
Yellow fleet got away first, and to everyone's surprise, the first time. The wind was 12-14 knots and a big swing in the wind on the first upwind that came back just in time for Erik Lidecis (USA) to lead round the top mark and extend to win. He was followed across the finish by Lars Hall (DEN) and defending champion Michael Maier (CZE). He then led the second race from start to finish again, this time with Marc Allain des Beauvais (FRA) in second and Maier again in third.
Lidecis said, “I had two mid-line starts, managed to punch out OK. In the first race it went pretty hard right but I was left. Luckily it came back to the left enough for me to cross the fleet and the rest was just about following the course. It's the first day and I didn't know where everything was, so just about getting round the course and staying in the puffs. I was able to extend pretty good and then it's easier to stay ahead when you have a nice gap.”
“In the second race we just had so many starts, it was difficult to keep it consistent, but I got another mid line start came out well. The first beat had smaller oscillations and the leaders all pretty much came out of the middle. So I was just playing the shifts up the middle. And then I managed to stay in front again. It was lighter with smaller waves and the second beat became really shifty. It was real fun.”
The lines here are so long, with the starting boat in the middle, how does he choose where to start? “I don't like the leverage out to the side. If you get it wrong on one side it's hard to come back, but in the middle you can always at least salvage half of it. I have good speed and I am younger than a lot here so I was going a bit faster.”
Was he surprised to win both? “Yes, it's exciting. It's great to beat Maier twice. I think he's not too happy about that. But that's cool. If it ended today I'd be happy. To come all this way and in a boat I've only sailed twice and do this is just great.”
Lidecis is being coached here by the 2010 Finn World Champion Ed Wright (GBR). “I've learned a lot from him. He so driven and focused and just pushes me all the time, so he's definitely made a big difference.”
Both races in the Blue fleet were by Budzien, though he had a harder time than Lidecis. Both blue fleet races had one recall. In the first race Tauras Rymonis (LTU) led at the first with with Budzien in third. Budzien pulled through downwind to take the win. In the second race he rounded the top mark in 30th but surged through to the lead downwind again. He lost two places on the next upwind but retook the lead on the final downwind to win his second race of the day.
The general recalls for the second race took their toll with 39 black flag disqualifications across both fleets.
While the real surprise of the day was that four time champion Maier got beaten twice, Karl Purdie put in two great results to sit one place ahead of Maier. Twice the OK Dinghy World champion, he switched to the Finn last year. “Coming from the OK to the Finn was not too much of a transition, apart from the free pumping that is. At my home club in Wellington Josh Junior (NZL) also sails a Finn, so it is a chance to help him prepare for Rio. We train together a lot.”
“In NZ the Finn fleet is great, with really friendly guys happy to share knowledge and while being competitive on the race track also happy being social off it. The racing is fantastic too with Josh, Andrew Murdoch (NZL) and Matt Coutts (NZL) all actively supporting and racing in our regional regattas. I think over the coming few years I wouldn't be too surprised to see three NZers regularly making medal races at ISAF grade 1 events and challenging Team GBR.”
“Regionally over NZ and AUS I would say there is not quite the depth in Finns competitive-wise that there is in the OK due to the smaller amount of people sailing them. But I love the challenge of sailing them. It's just so physical and unrelenting. Downwind has been a real challenge but with Josh to train against that's improving. The tuning aspect provides a further dimension and adds a lot of interest for me. Overall I would say this is by far physically and tuning wise the most challenging boat I have ever sailed.”
Two more races are scheduled for Tuesday, with less wind forecast and also less rain. The sailors live in hope. The championship concludes on Friday.
Full results after day 1: http://www.srr-sailing.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/finn_world_s1.htm
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