It was a slow start to the 2013 Open and Junior European Championship in Warnemünde, Germany as the sailors waited patiently onshore all day as the wind failed to stabilize at anything more than a paltry 4 knots. It was finally abandoned for the day at 17.00.
On the plus side it was a beautifully sunny and hot day, but there is little that is more dangerous than 100 Finn sailors with nothing to do. The sailors were given regular updates all day but were told to be prepared to go afloat at any time in case the wind arrived. There was a light breeze in the harbour but it was clear that outside the situation was different with a maximum of 4 knots recorded and an average of 2-3 knots. Finally at 17.00 the wait was over and the sailors sent home with no racing.
Rob Lamb (GBR), the PRO said, “We had a light breeze with 3 knots – but there were spots without any wind at all“, said Robert Lamb “I hoped until the end to get a sea breeze, but we didn’t. But tomorrow we are stepping it up – we are supposed to get a Force 3, which is ideal.” Filippo Baldassari (ITA) commented, “The decision has been absolutely right. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. In this case we prefer to wait here onshore.”
Defending Champion Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) added, “I have waited for wind at several regattas, that’s part of this sport.“ About his chances this week he was cautious, “I have studied a lot this year, and have had some exams lately. We will see what will happen here. But this wind is good for me, since I am the specialist for those conditions.”
Several of the coaches here are former Finn sailors now passing on their experience to the younger generation. John Bertrand (USA), silver medalist at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 is coaching the Australian team of Jake Lilley (AUS) and Oliver Tweddell (AUS), while John Culter (NZL), bronze medalist at the 1988 Olympics, is coaching Josh Junior (NZL) and Andrew Murdoch (NZL).
Cutlter said, “I'm only in the coach boat but it's good to be back in the Finn fleet. It's great to see what's happened in the past 25 years, and it's all looking pretty positive for the class actually. Josh and Doc are both new to the class, and we just take it as a methodical process, so we rig it up, make a few changes one at a time and see what seems to work best. We're not trying to be super clever, we're just running a methodical programme stepping through the controls and the tuning and seeing what works.”
On his return, “I always had a good time in the class and always look back with good memories of my time sailing the Finn and the Olympic campaign, so I thought well, if I can fit this is with my other sailing and things I am doing, it would be a good thing to do and especially having two sailors who are good and motivated, it's good to be involved again.”
On his two sailors, “I think there is a lot of potential left. They are both new to the class and this is their first season and they've done pretty well already, so the good thing is they both have good skill set and they had good results in the Laser class, so they know how to start and sail, so it's just about getting a better understanding of the equipment and how to sail a Finn really quickly.
“Just looking at the results, Josh is a little bit younger and probably doing a little bit better, but it's still early days at the moment, and I think the important thing is that as a group we keep learning about what makes the boat go fast.”
New Zealand is bidding for the 2015 Finn Gold Cup, a decision that will take place at the 2013 Finn Gold Cup in Tallinn, Estonia next month. “It would be great if we can get the Gold Cup down to Takapuna. We all know there are great sailing condition there, and it will be in the European winter. I am sure there will be a couple of lead up regattas such as Sail Auckland and the Nationals beforehand, so rather than sitting in Europe freezing away, come down to New Zealand and do some sailing.”
When was the last time he sailed a Finn, “Surprisingly I sailed one for about five minutes here last week and I quite liked it. Before that it would have been when I sailed against Craig Monk leading up to Barcelona for about a month and then before that the last race of the Olympics in 1988.”
In contrast John Bertrand started coaching Finn sailors three years ago and now coaches the Australian team. He said, “It's great to see our generation come back in and help the younger generation. I think we have a fair bit to offer plus it's nice to see it from a new perspective as well so I think it's a good combination.”
Bertrand won the Europeans in 1979 and then, “I got invited to the East German Nationals here in Warnemünde and I managed to beat Jochen Schümann in his home town. I was quite a popular winner. It was back when it was the DDR, and behind the Iron Curtain and it was quite an adventure for me to come here. I hadn't been exposed to any Communist nation before. My impression when we rolled in was that it was pretty grey, drab and very controlled and I stayed at the hotel by the beach and I remember at night the spotlights scanning the beach for boats coming ashore and people trying to leave so it was quite an experience. Coming back now, wow, what a difference. It's fabulous. It's a beautiful spot.”
“Here I am coaching Jake and Oli and it's a been a great experience. I am really excited about this new generation coming into the class since the 2012 Olympics. I predicted there would be a lot of interest with some sailors coming out of the Laser class, and some of the old guard is going to see some new talent come in. It's almost like what happened when I came into the Finns [in the late 1970s] because we came out of the Laser class and then it was the new guard and the old guard, and I suspect that this generation is going to rise to the top in the next couple of years. And they are all a lot bigger than we ever were.”
With more wind forecast for Tuesday, the race committee now plans to attempt three races but at the earlier start time of 11.00. The championship continues until Saturday when the final race and medal race will be sailed.