You can tell they are enjoying themselves by the smiles on their faces. And there were smiles all round on the opening day of the 2011 Finn World Masters in Punta Ala at the PuntAla Camping Resort in Tuscany, Italy, which got off to the perfect start with eight fantastic heats in absolutely fabulous sailing conditions. Allen Burrell (GBR) and defending champion Michael Maier (CZE) easily won both their heats to head up the 283 boat fleet overnight, while in third overall is Uli Breuer (GER), who picked up a first and a second.
At the briefing this morning the competitors were warned that the racing would start on time and all the sailors launched early to make sure they got there in time. A 12.00 the first heats got away in 10-12 knots stable north-westerly in a slight sea state and clearing blue skies. During the day the wind built to a solid 12-15 knots with long, deep waves making upwind sailing interesting and downwind sailing exhilarating with long, fast surfs all round.
On course area 1, Yellow fleet was the first to start. Most of the fleet favoured the left hand side, though the wind was pretty stable across the course area. Geza Husar (HUN) took the first race from Martin Hughes (GBR) and Jan Willem Kok (NED), after Kok sailed a wrong course to the finish and lost places. Hughes couldn't repeat his form in the second race due to a slipped halyard, but the win went to Kok followed by Christian Kühlwein (GER) and David Potter (GBR).
In the Blue fleet, Allen Burrell (GBR) largely had it all his own way leading round both races and winning the second race by an impressive margin as the wind increased to 15 knots with big waves downwind. In the first race Burrell was followed by Arwin Karssemeijer (NED) and Luuk Kuuper (NED), while in the second race he was followed across the line by Andreas Bollogino (GER) and Johnny Aagesen (DEN).
Over on course 2, a sequence of general recalls and black flags delayed the racing with a number of boats pulled out. The Green fleet was dominated by the defending champion Michael Maier (CZE), leading both races from start to finish. In the first race he finished ahead of Kenneth Boggild (DEN) and Marc Allain de Beauvais (FRA), who were both later scored OCS. So Laurent Hay (FRA) moved up to second and then picked up another second place in the next race with Allain des Beauvais in third again.
In the Red fleet, Uli Breuer (GER) won the first race from Thomas Moerup-Petersen (DEN) and Bas de Waal (NED). Three times champion Andre Budzien (GER) rounded the first mark deep and climbed to fourth offwind by the finish, and then went on win the second race, overtaking early race leader Breuer offwind. Moerup-Petersen crossed in third.
With four fleets racing at any one time every point is valuable. Effectively every boat lost or gained is the equivalent to losing or gaining four points, so naturally the competition is intense.
While course 1 had Oscar flag raised for free pumping throughout, on course 2 Oscar stayed in the race officer's pocket all day, leading to some yellow flags for over enthusiastic sailors. Maier commented, “Today was good, great reaches and nice upwind sailing. We had very nice conditions for surfing but I didn't understand why we didn't have free pumping because it was perfect conditions for this. I actually capsized on the last downwind, but got it up very quickly and only lost 100 metres, but still managed to win the race.”
Joint overall leader Allen Burrell was delighted with the conditions. “It was really good fun today, lovely conditions, and ideal for the British sailors I think. We have done a lot of training is similar conditions back home, though not as warm as here, and I think that is making a big difference here. It was perfect with nice big courses. I think the racing has been all about boatspeed, just hiking hard, getting round as fast as possible as there were not many shifts to be had. I lost of a bit on the first downwind as I didn't realise we had free pumping as the flag was so small, but I made up for it later. This is such a fabulous place to go sailing, as well as being a lovely location on shore with great facilities.”
Racing continues at 12.00 tomorrow with two more races on the cards in more perfect conditions.
Results after two races: (Full results here)
3 GER 707 ULI BREUER 3
4 NED 780 JAN WILLEM KOK 4
5 FRA 75 LAURENT HAY 4
6 GER 711 ANDRE BUDZIEN 5
7 DEN 9 THOMAS MOERUP PETERSEN 5
8 NED 29 BAS DE WAAL 7
9 GER 19 B ANDREAS OLLONGINO 8
9 GER 28 CHRISTIAN KUEHLWEIN 8
11 NED 60 LUUK KUIJPER 8
12 GBR 40 NICK DANIELS 9
13 NED 25 ARWIN KARSSEMIJER 10
14 GBR 65 DAVID POTTER 10
15 BUL 24 MIHAIL KOPANOV 10
16 SUI 63 GAUTSCHI THOMAS 10
17 GBR 707 ADRIAN BRUNTON 10
18 NED 7 CEES SCHEURWATER 11
19 GBR 665 JULIAN SMITH 11
20 ITA 5 FRANCESCO CINQUE 12