Next week in Pwlhelli, Wales, the busy May month of Finn sailing continues with the Finn World Masters. Not only will this be the first time the event has been sailed in UK waters for 12 years, but it is also only the second time it has ever been held in the UK. The large British Finn fleet and the Pwllheli Sailing Club were really keen to invite all the Master Finn sailors to the UK once again, especially in this special year for Finn sailing across the country.
The host club, Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club, is located on the Hafan Pwllheli marina complex in the North Wales holiday resort of Pwllheli. The waters around Pwllheli are some of the best in the UK, with the racing being held on Cardigan Bay, notable for its weak tidal streams, stable winds and great sailing conditions. In addition, the superb scenery of Snowdon and the Welsh mountains provide a magnificent backdrop to the racing areas.
To date some 147 pre-entries from 21 countries and five continents have been received, which if they all turn up would make this the largest Finn regatta ever held in the UK. The record is 138. Forty-four of the pre-entries are Masters (40-49), 54 are Grand Masters (50-59), 41 are Grand Grand Masters (60-69) and this year there are just six Legends (70+).
Many of the 'old' favourites are back and the ultimate favourite has to be the three times champion Michael Maier (CZE), who is still putting in a good showing on the senior international circuit as well. Another three time champion, Andre Budzien (GER) will also be more determined this year having picked up a string of letter scores in Punta Ala, Italy last year.
There are also many new and returning faces this year, not just through the achievement of reaching the right age to qualify but also sailors from other classes attracted by the high level of competition in the Finn Class. Double Masters champion from a decade ago John Greenwood (GBR) is sailing his first championship for many years, while a new sailor to the class is former OK Dinghy World Champion Greg Wilcox (NZL), who has turned a few heads in competitions in Germany, where he now lives.
Last year's runner up Allen Burrell (GBR) has just completed his training at the Falmouth Finn Gold Cup and last year's third placed Uli Breuer (GER) is also back for more.
In the Grand Masters, Lars Hall (DEN) is back to defend his title while Mikael Brandt (SWE) will also defend the Grand Grand Master title. The number of Legends competing is down on recent years but the champions from the last two years, Howard Sellers (GBR) and Richard Hart (GBR) are expected to battle for the ultimate honour in Finn sailing.
After a month of rain, low temperatures, strong winds and miserable conditions, the UK weather seems finally to have turned the corner into summer. The long term forecast is promising temperatures around 20 degrees and winds around 10-15 knots, so everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that this will last throughout the week.
Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club is very experienced in running major international sailing events, so the Finn Masters are looking forward to another great event, in a great location.
Measurement and registration takes place on Saturday and Sunday, with eight races scheduled from Monday 28 May through to Friday 1 June. For the first time ever the top 10 will sail the final race as a medal race.
Follow the event on the club website at: http://www.pwllhelisailingclub.co.uk/finn2012/en/home/