Michael Maier (CZE) won his fourth Finn World Masters title in Pwllheli on Friday with no more races sailed after the wind failed to stabilise in time to get the final races in before the time limit. Allen Burrell (GBR) won the silver and Laurent Hay (FRA) won the bronze.
The day started dull and overcast with no wind. The forecast was never that good and though the clouds cleared and a light breeze filled in it never completely filled the bay enough to start a race. The fleet was held on shore until 13.00 when racing was called off for the day.
It has not been the week that most of the competitors expected with exceptionally warm and sunny days and only one day of rain. The generally light winds have been kind the fleet as a whole but the windy conditions on Thursday brought a welcome relief to some.
Maier again proved his dominance against a fleet of amateur sailors and was a worthy winner, while Burrell won the silver medal for the second year running. Hay picked up his second bronze medal after previously finishing third in 2009.
Maier said, “We've had great weather this week, amazing weather in fact. My last ten experiences here have always been rain. But I think it was nice to sail yesterday with great winds. In the light winds we had some races like that were a bit tricky but I think everyone is happy with the week. We had a nice championship and everyone is going home with a good feeling.”
Burrell said, “I am really pleased to win the silver again, especially with the way the week started with the light winds when I wasn't expected to come second. It really came down to yesterday with the nice breeze and two second places. They have done a fantastic job here this week with 130 boats on the start line. The double start line worked well and they always seemed to be pretty fair. I started in the middle most of the time and it seemed to work fine for me. I was a bit relieved there was no medal race today, as with the light winds that could have been a problem for me. Gareth [Roberts] and everyone at the club have done a great job organising everything and the weather has just been fantastic here and not what we expected.”
Hay said, “I am a little bit disappointed because I think I did two mistakes and lost five points and then finished just two points behind Allen. But I sailed very well and yesterday it was a little tricky for me because it was moderate winds and big waves and I am too light for that. I expected to have a good medal race today because I like that kind of competition, with short race and very aggressive race, but it was not to be. So maybe next year.”
At the prizegiving the four categories and the overall winners were presented with the unfeasibly large trophies. There were new prizes this years for the Ladies and the Legend categories. Sabine Breuer (GER) was the only lady this year but said she would only take home the trophy if she finished every race and was not last. At just 52kg she is half the size of many sailors here, but she accomplished her goal for the second year running and got the biggest cheer. She explained, “I know that Finn sailing is a kind of a man's world and the reason why I was in this hopeless fight yesterday that was really only me against the time limit is that I wished the Finn sailors to think that even though I was the only one, that I deserved this prize.”
Despite opening with a black flag disqualification Rob Coutts (NZL) took the Grand Masters title against some very close competition, while Pascal Tetard (FRA) dominated the Grand Grand Masters.
The Legend category was won for the second year running by Howard Sellars (GBR), with British sailors taking all the medals. He said, “It was great to have a British 1, 2, 3 in the Legends and the one that was first was very proud to say that he has a Welsh heritage, so of all the sailors that were here there was only one person was racing for the host nation, and that was me. I am very proud of that and, to add to that, to be the first on the cup and to defend my title from last year made me very proud.”
All week the two sailors each day have been using the Finn class stern mounted GoPro cameras during the racing so that the class can gain some experience in using the equipment in competition. While the light winds have not made the footage that exciting in general, we now have some 110 Gb of footage from a range of sailors incuding Sabine Breuer and the Finn Masters President Fon van Gent. This footage will be assembled and edited into a short video which will be posted on the classes You Tube channel, TheFinnChannel.
Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club has been the perfect host, going to great lengths to ensure that all the competitors had a great time on and off the water. It has been a remarkable championship in many ways not least the uncharacteristic weather; but no one complained.
Next year the championship returns to La Rochelle in France, which last hosted the event in 1996. Already forecasts are for a 200-250 boat championship. If Maier wins there he will equal the record set by Larry Lemieux (CAN) between 1995 and 2004 of five Finn World Masters titles.
Final results (top 10 from 131)
Grand Grand Masters
A full gallery of photos can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Finn-Class/110408332633
Follow the event on the club website at: http://www.pwllhelisailingclub.co.uk/finn2012/en/home/