Split spat everything at the sailors on Thursday at the Finn European Championship, except enough wind to complete more than one race. Jonathan Lobert (FRA) won the only race sailed to bring the total tally of races sailed to just two after three days.
Racing was postponed on shore again as first the wind died and then the rain came. That cleared and the sun came out and everything began to heat up. At about 13.00 the race officer sent the fleet out in hardly any wind, but by the time race two was started at 14.45, a stable 6-7 knot breeze was in. The course was laid to the north of the club alongside some stunning scenery and for the first time this week, the cloud lifted to the hills behind Split to leave a spectacular backdrop to the racing.
The line was pin end biased and the right side of the course was favoured. Rafa Trujillo (ESP) started at the pin and rounded the top mark in the lead ahead of Marin Misura (CRO), Alexiy Sivenkov (RUS), Peer Moberg (NOR) and Lobert.
Lobert takes up his story. “I had a good start at the pin end so then I was on the left hand side of the fleet. I tacked and kept going to the right and rounded about fifth or sixth and then I had a very good downwind. I was catching the waves nicely and managed to gain a bit of distance, but I rounded the wrong gate mark and Marin was leading again.” Trujillo had been yellow flagged at the top mark and trailed in about 10th place
Lobert continued, “On the last downwind Marin and I had a big fight together and he got a yellow flag, but then he kept coming back at me and got close to me and we were just gybing for the finish when his sail caught my boom, so he did more turns and I won the race. I was a little bit lucky to win.”
Misura finished second followed by the defending champion Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO), Daniel Birgmark (SWE) and Alejandro Muscat (ESP).
Misura said, “For me it was easy. I had a good start. Then I went all the way right and rounded the top mark in second. I was leading all the way after that but I got a penalty just before the finish, but I still managed to finish second.”
The start of race three was attempted almost straight away, but it took three sequences before the fleet got away under black flag. This time the left side paid off with more pressure as the wind started to drop across the course. Mark Andrews (GBR) led the fleet round the top mark, but it was short lived as the race was abandoned 10 minutes later as the wind failed and lots of boats who had over stood the windward mark struggled to get back against the current. Gasper Vincec (SLO), who had rounded second, had waited all day to sail as he had to sit out race two after picking up a black flag yesterday. So it was a long day for some and only one more race on the board.
Two young sailors here, Caleb Paine (USA) and Luke Lawrence (USA) are both part of the US Sailing Development Team. While this is Lawrence's first Finn championship, Paine's introduction was at last year's Finn Gold Cup in Denmark. Both are very ambitious sailors with Olympic dreams for 2012 and 2016.
Both are also just 19 years old and gunning for the Junior European Championship this week. But how did they get into the Finn?
Paine said, “I actually started in a Finn last year through the guys in the US, especially Scott Mason and Peter McDonald who helped me out a lot. Basically they realised I was too big for the Laser and said, “Here, try a Finn”. So I tried it and loved it. I signed up and bought a boat and here I am.”
“I did the Finn Gold Cup in Copenhagen last year and the OCR in Miami this year. I am going to try and do the circuit this year and if I can get funding from Alphagraphics for next year it would help me a bunch.”
Talking about his long term goal to represent the US in the Olympics he said, “For me it's extremely important to have a boat for heavyweights in the Olympics. If I don't have a boat to sail in the Olympics it sort of takes that dream away from me. And from many other people as well. At the moment the Finn is the ideal boat for that.”
“Lawrence said, “I started off back in January. I was training for the OCRs in the Laser and in the process of going to the gym I put on about 10 pounds, which made me too heavy for the Laser so I decided to take the next step with the Finn. So I found a boat and sailed the OCRs. I did pretty well, so decided to stay with it. I made the US Sailing development team and they shipped my boat over here and I have been doing all the events since.”
“I love sailing the Finn. I have also been sailing the 505 for a few years. It's different to the Laser. Technically it's more my thing. I enjoyed the Laser but I got a bit bored with it after a bit. The Finn is constantly a new challenge every time I go sailing.”
“My long terms goals are the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Right now I am working with John Bertrand full time. He's a really good coach. We work well together.”
Lawrence weighs in at 88 kg and admits “I am still a bit small for the Finn but I'm still putting on weight and building muscle to handle the boat.” Paine, who currently weighs 100 kg said, “I have put on a lot of muscle since last year.”
After two races Paine lies in 39th place though he says, “My goal for the week is top 20 overall.” Lawrence, whose goal is “...top three in the Juniors,” lies in 32nd and is second Junior, though there is already a sizeable gap to last year's Junior Champion Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) who is in 19th place. Third place is currently held by Christoph Froh (GER).
Lawrence concluded, “The best part so far is the learning curve. I got a second in the Youth Worlds and I had fun with that, but I got to a point in the Laser where I was once I got too heavy I was just starting to suffer a lot and didn't want to just eat salad to sail my boat. For me, I like sailing singlehanded boats at the moment and I definitely want to go for the Olympics.”
Better weather ahead?
Everyone is hoping that the clearer skies and lack of haze on the hills may bring better weather and wind tomorrow. Lobert summed up, “I think so far we have done the best we could have done in these conditions. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.”
After two races Moberg has a one point lead, but there is hopefully still a very long way to go and if the two races sailed are anything to go by it could be a high scoring regatta.
There are just two more scheduled days of fleet racing left, though we need to sail four to make a series and five to sail a medal race, which is scheduled for Sunday. Three races are scheduled for Friday from 11.00
Top 10 after two races
1 NOR 1 Peer Moberg 15
2 GBR 41 Giles Scott 16
3 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo 16
4 FRA 115 Thomas Le Breton 16
5 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 18
6 SWE 11 Daniel Birgmark 18
7 CRO 2 Mate Arapov 20
8 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 21
9 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 21
10 GBR 11 Edward Wright 21