Despite attempts to get the racing back on track, the Finn Open Senior and Junior Europeans Championships was again saddled with uncooperative and unusual weather conditions with the wind playing games with the race officer and the sailors all day. More than 10 starts were attempted, two races were abandoned, and one race stood, with the win going to Finn newcomer Mate Arapov (CRO) from Split.
In the first start in 12-15 knots, Rafa Trujillo (ESP) led from the middle right on the first upwind to build a commanding lead downwind. Then the wind shifted 130 degrees and switched off.
More than an hour later another start was attempted in a very shifty and patchy northerly breeze. There was a big left shift half way up with Arapov rounding the top mark ahead of Bjorn Allansson (SWE), Trujillo, Deniss Karpak (EST), Peer Moberg (NOR) and Vasiliy Zbogar (SLO).
Arapov said, “The first race was very nice for me. I got a good start right on the pin and I made a good decision on the middle half of the first upwind. The left side was good and I rounded the first mark in the lead. On the first downwind I didn't lose my advantage and I chose the right gate which gained me 50 metres and then during the second upwind I was just covered the fleet.”
“The last downwind was difficult. The wind was stopping and everyone caught me up from behind. But I chose the right side downwind where there more more breeze. Rafa put me under pressure at the end of the second upwind but he went on the left side downwind and lost out a bit.”
Arapov was followed over the finish line by Moberg, Karpak, Allansson and Zbogar. Ed Wright (GBR) had moved up to third, but a yellow flag in the final 100 metres dropped him to 10th.
Arapov is new to the Finn. “I sailed Split Olympic Week this year and was second, and have maybe sailed 20 times since.” He sailed in the Sydney and Athens Olympics in the Laser and is now beginning a Star campaign for London, but said, “The Finn is nice. I am now 92 kg so it's good for me. I have bought a boat, but we will see.”
After another hour wait for the wind to stabilise, race two got away at the third attempt but the massive pressure variation on the first beat was a hint of things to come, and it was finally abandoned at the end of the first downwind while Rafal Szukiel (POL) and Ivan Kjlakovic Gaspic (CRO) were well ahead of the chasing pack.
Trujillo said, “It was a very difficult day for the race committee and the sailors. We went out with a nice Sirocco, the typical wind from the east, and the day looks easy. Perfect Finn conditions. And then the wind died. In the second race there were really difficult conditions, shifty and big pressure difference. I was happy with seventh place, even though I was second for most of the race. Any top ten place here is good.”
“In the last race I know the race committee needed to push to get the race in while there was wind, but it was turning into a 'carnival' race. Full credit to the race officer though he tried to make a good race, but in the end he had to cancel. That's the game.”
“In the end it is not important how many races we have, what is important is getting in good races. This is the second most important regatta of the year for us.”
Was he happy with his speed. “I don't know. With 20 degree shifts, if you take the right shift you look fast, if you take the wrong shift you look slow. In the last race I was super slow! Trujillo is one of those counting his good fortune. Many favourites were buried mid fleet or worse after the first upwind.
The profusion of young sailors here in Split is obvious to all. Several nations are fielding strong Junior squads hoping to take home the 2010 Junior European title.
The ten strong team from Germany includes four members of the Finn Team Germany initiative, three of which are juniors who are all attending their first major Finn championship. All three are around 1.9 metres high and weigh around 85-89kg.
19 year old Julian Massler (GER) is arguably the most experienced of the three, having placed 10th in last year's Junior World Championship.
“This is my tenth month in the Finn and my first major championship. I was doing the Laser but not much time for sailing with exams and school. I also lived in the south of Germany, so I moved to Kiel to go sailing and also to switch to the Finn as I am now too big for the Laser.”
The other two are Lennart Luttkus (GER), who is just 17, and Christoph Froh (GER) who started in the Finn in February 2009. All have grown too big for other classes, so the Finn was the ideal choice.
Finn Team Germany was established in 2006 to provide equipment and coaching support for promising young sailors with the aim of bringing them up to the level necessary to receive support from the German Sailing Federation
The team is managed by three time Masters World Champion Andre Budzien (GER) who is also competing here, and coached by double Finn Olympic Michael Fellmann.
How would Budzien rate the success of the project so far? “It gets better and better. Not the way we planned but we'll see after this week, hopefully we will have some good results in the Junior Championship and the rest we will see.”
Massler, who finished 53rd in today's only race continued, “The Finn Team German is a good thing to be involved in for me. We get a new sail every year, we exchange information within the team and we talk about our experiences. We all live a long way from each other, sometimes it's a problem, but when we come together there's a good team spirit.”
“I am enjoying it a lot. Sailing a Finn is more like sailing a boat and you can learn so much more from all the good guys. Even when I am the back of the fleet I am always learning something.”
The leading Junior is last year's champion Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) in 24th, with Luke Lawrence (USA) in 39th and Artur Ponieczyski (POL) in 42nd.
The first (abandoned) race raised some interesting points about unlimited pumping, which several sailors and coaches discussed with the jury on the water after the abandonment. When Oscar flag is up and the race committee permits pumping, rocking and ooching (except on a beat to windward) and the wind shifts....., at what point do you have to stop pumping?
The answer from the jury is that when the wind shifts so that the boat's proper course to the mark is close-hauled, the boats will be 'on a beat to windward' and the regular rule 42 applies. Until the judges are certain that the boats are on a beat to windward, they will allow pumping while Oscar is flying.
In the same way, when boats are sailing on a beat to windward and have overstood so that they are sailing free to the mark - they will no longer be 'on a beat to windward'. It is worth noting though that until the judges are certain that the boat's proper course to the mark is below close-hauled, they will continue to consider that pumping breaks rule 42.
In a change to the schedule, three races per day are planned for the next three days, starting each day at 11.00. The medal race tales place on Sunday 16th with the final race for the rest of the fleet sailed afterwards.
Top 10 after one race
1 CRO 2 Mate Arapov
2 NOR 1 Peer Moberg
3 EST 2 Deniss Karpak
4 SWE 6 Bjorn Allansson
5 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar
6 GBR 41 Giles Scott
7 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo
8 FRA 115 Thomas Le Breton
9 NZL 1 Dan Slater
10 GBR 11 Edward Wright