Following three days of registration, measurement and preparation racing begins at the 2013 Finn Open and Junior European Championships in Warnemünde, Germany on Monday. At the close of registration, 103 Finns were confirmed as entered, incuding 16 juniors, making this the largest Finn Europeans of all time.
The sun has been shining on Warnemünde for several weeks and looks set to continue for the coming days, though it could be a challenging event with light winds forecast for much of the week. The practice race Sunday could be a precursor for the week ahead.
The opening ceremony was held on Saturday evening overlooking the picturesque Warnemünde harbour with ample quantities of fresh fish sandwiches and Rostocker beer. Uwe Barthel, President of the German Finn Association, said, “It is a great honour for me to welcome you all here for the Finn European Championships. As the largest Finn association in the world it is great to hold a European championships again after a number of years. We have chosen Warnemünde as the venue as it's considered the most beautiful sailing area in Germany by many sailors. So on behalf of all members of the German association I wish you fair racing.”
Then Corinne McKenzie, Executive Director of the Finn Class responded by saying, “I think this event was long due to come to Germany. There are more than 350 Finn sailors in Germany, so to hold an event here is a real honour for the Finn class. I am sure we will have a fantastic event and have no doubt that this is one of the greatest venues the sailors have been to. The sailors have been here some time training. This is a beautiful city and I think the water is going to offer a fantastic championship. So good luck to everybody and thank you very much for your support.”
Finally, the championship was officially opened by the Mayor of Rostock, Ronald Methling. He said, “Welcome to the city of Rostock. We have one of the best sailing areas in Germany, if not the world. Of course we know that but every sailor knows the Baltic is a special area for sailing. The goal was to attract the sailors of the world and today is the beginning of that.”
“We are delighted to gained the trust of the International Finn Association to conduct the title fights of such an active class through the German Finn Association here in Warnemünde. At this event we welcome more than 100 sailors from 26 nations worldwide. Many thanks to all the people that have organised this event, and also to the many sponsors.”
“I wish you all a fair and successful regatta with a constant amount of wind, and a little bit of luck for everyone. With these words I announce the Finn European Championship 2013 in Warnemünde is opened.”
The defending champions Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) and Michal Jodlowski (POL) handed their senior and junior trophies over to the club to be presented by the Mayor at the conclusion of the regatta.
A reduced fleet set out for the practice race on Sunday afternoon in no more than 7-8 knots of wind. As in past days the afternoon breeze was significantly lighter than the morning breeze and was only 4-6 knots at best at race time of 14.00. After two general recalls, the line was reset for the third attempt with 6-7 knots.
The very long first beat proved more than enough for the vast majority of the fleet after a large right swing in the wind that left those near the committee boat with much less distance to sail. The adverse current also made it a very long leg. Piotr Kula (POL) led Josh Junior (NZ) and Andrew Murdoch (NZL) round the top mark and then most of the fleet headed for home.
However Two German sailors slugged out the remainder of the course with Klaus Reffelelmann (GER) winning from German class president, Uwe Barthel (GER).
The championship really gets under way on Monday with the first two races of the 2013 Open and Junior Finn European Championships scheduled for 12.00.
Further photos from the day are available on Flickr at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97957734@N04/sets/72157634728502161/