Beginning with a flag parade by all 29 nations represented, the opening ceremony was attended by consul generals of about 10 nations and introduced by regatta chairman and former Finn sailor John Callahan. After commenting that Finn sailors have got a lot taller and stronger since he sailed in the class he introduced Commodore Sneary and Finn class president, Balazs Hajdu (HUN).
Balazs Hajdu said to the more than 200 competitors and guests, “You can see through the window how great the conditions are here. We have strong winds and nice waves and I think are sailors are getting ready for a strong wind regatta. They are bright, they are big and they are strong and actually this is what they have been waiting for. So let me wish you fair winds and all the best for a great regatta and good competition over the coming week.”
After a musical interlude, Commodore Sneary closed the ceremony with the words, “The 2010 Finn Gold Cup is now underway. Have a great week. Sail fast. Sail fair. Be safe. Enjoy the party tonight and enjoy the regatta.”
After a week of strong wind practice, the practice race was deemed a race too many by much of the fleet with around 35 boats sailing just one lap of the course before heading for home. The stiff winds produced some great sailing and an indication of a great championship to follow this week.
First off the line at the pin end was returning Finn star Pieter-Jan Postma (NED). He said, “They were very nice conditions and very steady. I don't have any doubt that we will make all 11 races. It looks like we are guaranteed 15-20 knots each day. It will be good racing for all the for sailors. You are going to have to be really fit to survive. I haven't done a lot of sailing this year apart from Sail for Gold and I am fitter than I was then. But you cannot be fit enough for these conditions. Then you can pump more, but I think I'll be all right.”
First around the top mark was defending champion Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN). He was equally enthusiastic about the conditions. “It was really good fun, and windy. I am having a good time out there. Lots of laughs and just hanging in. I haven't been sailing in a year so it was a bit surprising to lead round the top mark but my speed was good. I got some good shifts. But I have a broken finger so I took it a bit easier on the downwind and the guys caught up a bit, so I started pumping again and passed them again and then we decided to go in.”
Photo gallery on Picasa here
Windward mark on YouTube
At the class AGM held over Friday and Saturday evenings the sailors heard about and discussed new initiatives to market the class and find new ways to tell the sailors' stories. The principle points included:
- A marketing working party, initially chaired by current world champion Jonas Høgh Christensen, will look at longer term marketing strategies and issues including corporate sponsorship, increasing revenue flow, professional marketing, offering prize money, and increasing use of new technologies such as boat tracking and internet coverage as standard.
- An internet based boat database to both provide an instant access to boat certificates to event organisers as well as providing transparency for all new boats.
- Ongoing development strategies to encourage new builders and easy access to affordable boats in developing nations. In particular the introduction of new builders in Brazil and South Africa were highlighted, assisted by the Finn class, FIDeS international development programme.
- Other FIDeS initiatives include grants to sailors for Silver and Gold Cups and Sailing World Cup events, fleet development support through a sail depositary, building fleets in new nations through clinics, gear databases and class owned boats for new sailors, to provide cheap access to the class. These initiatives are being spearheaded by 2008 Olympic Silver medalist, Zach Railey (USA), the Finn class Vice-President Development.
- Better visibility for sailors at championships and major regattas through flags on sails, golden insignia for past world champions and more sailor branding.
- Lowering of the wind limit for free pumping to 10 knots at SWC events and major championships.
The meeting also thanked Daniel Birgmark (SWE) for his time as Vice-President Sailing and welcomed young Tapio Nirkko (FIN) onto the Executive.
After extensive preparations, the racing for the 2010 Finn Gold Cup will finally get underway at 12.00 local time on Monday with the first two races scheduled.
About the event
The Finn Gold Cup, the world championship of the Olympic Finn class runs from Monday 30 August to Saturday 4th September, with two races scheduled each day at 12.00 each day until Friday and the medal race for the top 10 and the final race for the rest on Saturday.
Class website: www.finnclass.org
Event website: www.finngoldcup.com
Class event blog: http://finnclass.blogspot.com
Class Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Finn-Class/110408332633
Class Twitter: http://twitter.com/Finn_Class
Class Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/thefinnchannel