The Winner - Tonny Nyrén
Tonny Nyrén took out the prestigious invitation only 2014 International Punch Cup for the fifth time at the KKF in Karlstad, Sweden with an emphatic win in the winner takes all final after benefiting from both the reduced wind speed as well as confused team leadership from the five strong British team that had dominated the racing all day, but scored an own goal right at the end.
Tucked away in the northern corner of Lake Vänern in Sweden the KKF (Karlstads Kappseglingsförening), is a small but enthusiastic sailing club estasblish in 1905 with its roots in traditional Swedish canoe sailing. The unique format for the Punch Cup involves a series of round robins followed by knock out stages for a winner takes all final. It is sailed in previous generation Finns and in recent years this has been 10 pre-1990 Vanguard built hulls with Dacron sails all loaned by club members. KKF has the largest Finn fleet in Sweden with upwards of 30 boats in recent years.
The day before the event got underway, the visitors were treated to a full day's training in Lake Vänern with eight short races in 12-15 knots. The Swedish tactic to win back the Punch Cup was already evident as the challengers arrived back ashore exhausted and sore from the day's exhertions.
There were 31 sailors entered, including five from the UK, two from Norway and one from Denmark for perhaps the most competitive fleet in the 33 year history of the event. It was pointed out at the briefing that even Fredrik Lööf had tried and failed to win, however the trophy had been won by British sailors for the past two years. Though the trophy is diminutive in size, it is far from it in stature. Both Lawrence Crispin and John Greenwood had overcome the Swedish home advantage to lift the trophy in the last two years and the Swedes wanted it back. Badly. So badly it actually hurt.
But before the first of the 13 races started, there was a trip down memory lane and a presentation to Bernt Anderson, who was part of the Swedish team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which had begun 50 years ago to the day. Bernt then donned his wetsuit and put in a good showing, placing third in his group before being knocked out during the semi-final.
The round robins seeded the sailors for the semi-final. Each of the four round robins was won by team GBR. David Potter, Robert Deaves, John Greenwood and Lawrence Crispin all easily won their heats, setting down a clear marker for the Swedes to respond in kind. The three semi-finals were then won by Greenwood, Deaves and much to relief of the Swedes, Nyrén. Local hope was rising that the Swedes could finally keep the coveted trophy in its homeland.
First there was the B-Fleet fleet final with the winner getting a wildcard entry to the Grand Final to join the top three from each semi. However the writing was on the wall as the breeze, which up to then he been a solid but shifty 10-12 knots, started to fade in the autumnal Swedish light. Stefan Nordström, host to the British team, streaked ahead, with the 2012 winner Crispin knocked out in a shock result that left team GBR outnumbered in the 10 boat final
After a tactical delay for the wind to die even more, the boats set out for the final battle in barely a breath of wind. Nyrén relished these conditions and sailed away for a big win. As for the British challengers, the defeat was deeply felt though they had no one to blame but themselves. However post race dissention was directed clearly at the feet of Greenwood. Perhaps you have to understand it is not called the Punch Cup for nothing and perhaps through inexperience or following Greenwood's misplaced and unauthorised 'team orders' and enforcing the 'bottoms up' rule, the imbication went too far. Team GBR scored an own goal and fell into the trap laid on by the wily Swedes. Deaves was in contention for a while, rounding the downwind mark second but it all fell to pieces on the final leg with some unplanned acrobatics, aggressive enemy action against a Swedish Finn and ultimately penalty turns. It was all over for the British hat-trick. Deaves finally ended fourth behind a full podium of Swedes. Greenwood was then taken out by fifth overall Tim Tavinor in his first Finn regatta since 2002 to complete the ignominy for the visitors.
Where had it all gone wrong for team GBR? In fact, we are not allowed to report that as a news embargo places all the Swedish team on a training camp somewhere in the mountains and not anywhere near a group of rowdy inebriated Vikings celebrating the first Swedish Punch Cup victory in three years. They are making the most of it as they know the Brits will be back in 2015, stronger, and more focused than ever before.
1 SWE Tonny Nyrén
2 SWE Fredrik Tegnhed
3 SWE Svante Collvin
4 GBR Robert Deaves
5 GBR Tim Tavinor
6 SWE Stefan Nordström
7 SWE Adam Svärd
8 GBR John Greenwood
9 GBR David Potter
10 SWE Christofer Finnsgård