For the first time this week, at the Finn World Masters in Punta Ala, Italy, the top two boats got to race each other head to head in an individual heat. Michael Maier (CZE) now has small advantage over Allen Burrell (GBR), though both are still tied on four points, and they have a one point lead over Thomas Moerup Petersen (DEN) and Uli Breuer (GER) who both won their heats.
On course 1, in the Yellow fleet, Uli Breuer took an early lead from Jurgen Eiermann (GER), though by the finish it was Marc Allain des Beauvais (FRA) in second with Mihail Kopanov (BUL), continuing his good week, with a third.
In the Blue fleet, Thomas Moerup Petersen won his third race of the series to stay in contention at the top. Paul Blowers (GBR) sailed well into second, while Jan Willen Kok (NED) crossed in third.
Most of the top sailors were on course 2. In Red fleet, Lars Hall (DEN) led all the way to the final downwind mark, when Andre Budzien (GER) – who had rounded the top mark very deep and made gains on every leg – came past. Kenneth Boggild (DEN) also made gains on the final downwind to cross in third, while Adrian Brunton (GBR) who spent most of the race in second ended up fourth. But Budzien then retired after the finish following an infringement at the start, when the Jury determined he didn't do his penalty turns correctly, and the top three moved up one. With a black flag disqualification already from Tuesday, his hopes of a fourth title are now gone, but he will continue to sail the rest of the regatta.
Then in Green fleet, Michael Maier led at every mark as usual and built a massive margin offwind to take his fifth race win in a row. Allen Burrell rounded in second and was then overtaken by Laurent Hay (FRA), but Burrell clawed back on the second beat and led Hay into the finish.
The groups are decided on a completely random basis so who gets to race who is purely down to chance. Until today most of the leaders had been kept apart. Laurent Hay is one exception, having to race Maier in most races so far and he has paid a penalty for that in that those who have avoided Maier have managed to win races, something that Hay has not been able to do, and with the points at the top so close, the medals will probably go to those who have won more races. But tomorrow is another day and maybe Hay will get his chance at race victory to narrow the gap on the leaders.
Lars Hall said of his race, “My plan was to start to the left and then tack across when I got a small shift. I did this and when I realised I was in the lead I just stayed between the fleet and the top mark. I felt I could control the fleet from there as I had good boatspeed so no need to take chances. I had a lead of around 30 seconds at the final top mark, but Andre is very fast downwind and managed to get past me. I thought the sailing today was perfect and the race committee are doing a very good job. It can be a bit busy on the beach sometimes but otherwise it is very nice here.”
One of the newcomers here is Enrico Passoni (ITA) a former Olympic campaigner from the 1980s and early 1990s who just missed going to the 1992 Olympics. He said, “This is my first Masters and I am enjoying the friendly atmosphere. It is much more relaxed than in the Olympic circuit, pure fun and fair play. My goal was and is the Grand Master podium possibly with a decent overall placing, and so far the event is terrific and I am enjoying it very much. The sailing is fantastic, the conditions are awesome, although I prefer lighter winds. The friendly atmosphere is a big plus. I am already thinking how to train properly for next year.” Passoni is currently the top Italian lying in 30th position after placing 12th today.
Jurgen Eiermann was the runner up in 2009, and this year he is sitting in 28th place after a string of top ten places. But he says he is just pleased to be able to sail here. “This is a very big regatta, many guys here have sailed very well, and it's a very good competition with some nice sailing. I think perhaps we have too many boats, because we sail inner and outer loops. I would rather sail up and down and triangles. It's more tactical sailing and this is more speed sailing, so it's not so tricky, but all the best guys are still out in front. This year has not been so good for me, I was very ill earlier in the year and in hospital, so I am very happy just to be here and sailing.”
For the Grand Grand Master prize, it is almost neck and neck between the Mikael Brandt (SWE), Wouter Molenaar (NED) and last year's winner, Luksa Cicarelli (CRO). Brandt is now eight points behind Cicarelli after placing ninth in today's race. He explained what keeps bringing him back year after year.
“I have been sailing Finns since 1965 and this is part of my life. I love sailing, in winter and in summer, and it's a good feeling, because when you sail, you just think of sailing, you forget everything else, all your problems, your worries and everything, you just sail. And you get some kind of lucky feeling. When I saw it was 300 guys coming here I thought this is the biggest event ever, and I had to be here. It's nice to meet old friends and have fun and I had made a new sail and it was interesting because I was at the top in Sweden in light winds, and here it has been blowing and still I was OK. So it's really interesting for me to come here.”
At the Annual Masters Meeting held before racing today, various issues were discussed and agreed including introducing an medal race at next year's championship in Pwhelli, Wales and voting on the venue for the 2013 Finn World Masters. After bids from Maubuisson and La Rochelle in France, the La Rochelle bid won a close vote among the sailors present.
Two more races are scheduled for Thursday from 12.00, with the final race on Friday.
Results after five races (full results here):
1 CZE 1 MICHAEL MAIER 4
3 DEN 9 THOMAS MOERUP PETERSEN 5
4 GER 707 ULI BREUER 5
5 NED 780 WILLEM KOK JAN 9
6 FRA 75 LAURENT HAY 9
7 BUL 24 MIHAIL KOPANOV 13
8 NED 25 ARWIN KARSSEMIJER 16
9 FRA 99 MARC ALLAIN DES BEAUVAIS 16
10 GBR 567 MARTIN HUGHES 16
Video highlights from around the event can be seen at sailrev.tv
Photos by Dianthe Chirino and Marina Prinzivalli
More at www.facebook.com/pages/Finn-Class/110408332633