Defending champion Michael Maier (CZE) won the only race on the first day of the Finn World Masters in Pwllheli in North Wales, as the tropical conditions continued and produced a long wait ashore in light winds. Laurent Hay (FRA) crossed in second with Neil Robinson (GBR) third.
The fleet was held ashore until nearly 16.00 as the early fog gave way to more high temperatures, sunny skies and very light winds. A sea breeze started to build early on but was never strong enough to start a race until late in the day. However the sailors weren’t complaining too much as it allowed them to watch the arrival of the Olympic Torch Relay at the Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club, along with its convoy of branded buses, vehicle escort, press and police motorcade.
As soon as the Torch had departed Pwllheli, almost as if it was part of the programme, the sea breeze finally strengthened enough for racing and the fleet was sent out for one race. The wind quickly built to 10-11 knots, but after a further postponement, a general recall and a then a black flag start – from which 20 boats were sent home early – it had decreased to 8-10 knots and gradually faded into the early evening. By the time the boats finished it was down to 4-6 knots. The fleet came back to shore around 19.00.
Michael Maier (CZE) was always in charge. Tacking off the line soon after the start he favoured the right hand corner and took an early lead that was never really challenged. Laurent Hay (FRA) had a good battle with Allen Burrell (GBR) for second, but on the final beat Burrell split tacks with the leading two to try and find more pressure on the left. Neil Robinson (GBR) followed Hay to the right and nearly caught him, but when Burrell crossed back, he had lost third place to Robinson.
On coming ashore the sailors were treated to free beer, supplied by Carlsberg, and pasta, while the club laid on a barbecue in the evening.
Second placed hay commented, “We had light winds, so for me it was good conditions. I had a good first leg and rounded after Mike Maier, but he is faster than me and he sailed very well so I couldn't catch him. I had a good fight with Allen Burrell and we were second and third for most of the race, so that was very pleasant. On the last beat I was on the right and Allen went on the left, but I took the advantage there.”
“It's been really nice weather here in Pwllheli so far. We were expecting a lot of rain, so I packed lots of wet weather clothes, but today was a beautiful day and I would be very happy for it to continue all week. The race committee is very good because they put on a good start and it was a tough decision not to send us out too early, but in the end they made a good decision on when to go out. So far it is all perfect.”
Racing continues Tuesday at 12.00. The championship will be decided over a series of eight races with the final race and the medal race for the top 10 on Friday.
Top 10 after day one
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/