Cannes Finn Festival edition 2015 surely suffered from south Spain Andalucia competition as far as entrants. Over 40 of the best European Finn Olympic hopes had chosen to do their winter training at Puerto Sherry next to Cadiz, so they were missing at Cannes, which some years ago had up to 95 entrants and only 60 this time.
Due to this top sailors were rare. Several good Italians but not all, and some of the promising sailors from Eastern Europe once again joined the event to start their year’s programme. Most known of these was Deniss Karpak the best Estonian who often does good or wins at Cannes. Andrij Gusenko from Ukraine was with Florian Raudaschl one of his best competitors. After numerous winter storms along the Côte d'Azur, the weather quickly became light and very sunny but as well winds mostly blew from East to North East between five to 12 knots.
After a nearly wild practice day on Monday the entrants had a very light and fluky wind set between 50 and 60°. On the Bay of Golfe Juan, between north shore and the island the best shifts were often hard to catch. Good locals could be lost often but those experienced and fast found the right options. Laurent Hay one of the world best masters showed his usual medium/light expertise to lead until mid race until Deniss Karpak sailed ahead to catch his first bullet.
The relatively light French Laurent Hay took revenge soon after while beating Karpak. Their best opponents in third position were Danish Stig Steinfurth and Austrian Florian Raudaschl.
The second day still very sunny but race committee found it hard to set any course and start a race. Finns were sent back to shore, then again due to wind hopes sent out again but they returned to shore soon after with no race done.
The third day started with early morning shore breeze shifting to North East all day long with a potential to shift to East then South East.
The third official race was clear after a general recall. Many of the leaders chose a pin end start, then stayed on left side or centre of upwind leg. Filippo Baldassari from Italy led at marks and held pressure from Laurent Hay, Raudaschl and Karpak, until he won race.
Every year Austrian Florian Raudaschl wins a race at Cannes, whatever the wind blows.
From a clean pin end start he made his way fast and clear to round to mark in lead just ahead of new young French Antoine Devineau a former Laser sailor. Instead Deniss Karpak and Laurent Hay did relatively bad . Karpak’s average start forced him to tack to often. He made his way up the fleet but ended no better than seven. Laurent Hay totally goofed upwind legs to record a disastrous 21st on the finish line. With his worst rivals way behind Florian could build a sufficient and safe gap to win ahead of Baldassari with young French Benjamin Montagut coming third after an impressive second upwind leg.
Race 5 was the windiest heat and again the top scorers were at pin end of line. Both Raudaschl and Hay started well but Hay, chose to tack too soon. Instead Raudaschl insisted to play left side and soon looked as a new leader. The wind started then to shift rather East and this benefited to those on the centre line.
Enrico Voltoni became leader and could held position all along race despite close pressure from Denis Karpak and Florian Raudaschl. Due to wind shift a change of course occurred and this time the top ten leaders clearly played the right during second upwind leg.
Before the final day Karpak had a four point lead from Hay and Raudaschl both on equal points and 7 pts ahead of Baladassari.
Around 8 to 10 knots of wind the early race of final day was led at mark 1 by Laurent Hay who once again lost on run while instead, Karpak who had rounded sixth regained lead only after sailing one third of run. He definitely is the fastest downwind. The Italian of day was once again Enrico Voltoni who stayed close and also passed Hay downwind. Hay anyhow kind of saved his second overall since both Raudaschl and Baladassari ended bad that time.
With similar wind conditions race 7th was an almost replica or race 6th . It showed another win for Karpak this time closely followed by Baldassari and his countrymate Enrico Voltoni.
They left Laurent Hay in fourth but he became more and more secure in second overall. Karpak had now already won the event and he sailed back to shore with several other entrants. Among those was Florian Raudaschl who, as others, didn't think there could be another race.
He also had in mind to start his 1200 kms trip to Austria asap. But RC decided to start a final 8th race in still moderate conditions. Young and promissing french hope Antoine Devineau, a former Laser sailor, achieved a clean and fast start to soon lead the fleet but this time, while the best two sailors of italina "squadra azzura" were kind of lost in first upwind leg, Laurent Hay instead, and as usual, soon found the best shifts and got around all marks in lead to later record his second victory out of three racing days. The best French medium/light sailor was now 2 pts behind Karpak but ten ahead of Filippo Baldassari. Ending third that time consistent Ukrainian Andrij Gusenko could now get 4th overall while Raudaschl was dropping to 5th. Undoubtly while entering race 8 Florian would had kept his seat on Cannes Podium ... but he didn't.
Unusualy , next to sixty males of all générations the event had one nice and enthusiastic Austrian young woman with Tina Sperl. She managed to leave behind her five guys.With her friend Gerhard Weinreich both pratice and race on lake Neusiedler see or also often in center Vienna on a lake which is former leg of famous Donau river.
Technically the event was a chance for continental sailors to discover the new Petticrow Finn built by Tim Tavinor in the UK. The new Wilke D (built at Devoti factory in Poland) was also there. Among sails Raudaschl showed great speed up or downwind with his new all round weather sail, a development of the very same sail that Mike Maier has used to win the last 5 Masters worlds. Several of the top sailors including Laurent Hay has now turned back to North Sails.
Photos and words by François Richard
[No copying or using these pictures. All copyright François Richard 2015 - contact: francois.richard.photo (at) gmail.com]