Final blast

Racing in 30+ knots concludes the Finn 60th Anniversary Regatta, reports Robert Deaves

Monday August 17th 2009, Author: Robert Deaves, Location: United Kingdom
The final day of the Finn 60th Anniversary Regatta at Uppsala Kanotforening on Lake Ekoln ended on a high, with 30 knot winds and spectacular sailing conditions. The Dutch team took a clean sweep of the medals, while Mikael Brandt (SWE) took the Swedish championship.

The first race got underway at the slightly earlier time of 10.00 in 25 knots, with some bigger gusts coming through. Only about half the fleet ventured out, but these conditions are what the Finn was made for. Very few sailors had problems and the fleet put on a great display of seamanship and skill in the extreme conditions. It is a great testament to the seaworthiness of the boat that even the 70+ Gus Miller (USA) managed to complete the race without incident.

Jan Willem Kok (NED) won his first race of the weekend with Thierry van Vierssen (NED) in second and Karel van Hellemond (NED) in third. Ross Hamilton (IRL) posted his best result of the series with a fourth, clearly preferring the windy conditions. Hamilton also took the prize as the leading junior here

While the fleet watched the carnage underway in the Two-Crown fleet, the wind increased with gusts of 35 knots coming through. After what was left of the Two Crowns were sent in, race nine started for the Finns in 30-35 knots, but by the downwind leg the race committee wisely decided to call it a day as most of the rescue fleet was fully occupied with the other class.

This left van Hellemond as the clear winner of the 60th Anniversary Regatta, with Kok overtaking van Vierssen on the result of race eight to snatch second place and round out the top three for the Dutch sailors. In the Swedish Championship, Mikael Brandt placed 10th today, enough to take his third Swedish title. Johan Wijk (SWE) finished second with Daniel Miles (SWE) in third. Brandt also took the prize as the leading 50+ sailor

Brandt, who won the title previously in 1995 and 1997, and also took the Finn World Masters title back in 1990, said, “I am really surprised to win here, but it is fantastic. There were four guys who I thought were in with a chance, so I am really pleased to beat them. The light winds earlier helped me a lot.

Brandt has been sailing on the lake since he was a youngster and seemed to have an uncanny ability to always be in the right place at the right time. “It is very tricky sailing here. Even the Vikings found it so. But when the wind is like it was today, the conditions are great with really powerful waves building, making for some superb sailing.”

The prizes today were presented by Boris Jacobssen (SWE), Finn European Champion in 1962 and 1963.

Personal perspective

It has been a real thrill for your author to be here, back where the epic story of the Finn all started. What Rickard Sarby created back in 1949 was more than just another class of dinghy. For many of the sailors here, the Finn has become a lifestyle choice. The boat has transcended generations and has had an immense influence on every aspect of the sport of sailing. From measurement trends to rule making, from technology developments to unique training programmes and from leadership and life skills to breaking down political barriers to international class management the Finn has been a leader and a trend setter.

It is often said, “Once a Finn sailor, always a Finn sailor…” This is as true today as ever. The Finn is not only about pushing physical and mental limits, but is a great ambassador for the sport of sailing and for Olympic sailing in particular.

The historical perspective of this event is immense. Many of those sailing this regatta, came for no other reason that to celebrate all that the Finn has been and is now and the class they love in the place where it all started. All go home having made new friends both from overseas and at the very friendly club. There is something about this class which inspires a loyalty and a dedication of purpose that no other class can match. That is what makes this class so great.

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