The weekend of the 20-21 October saw a sight that is rarely seen in competitive sailing. A hub of talent gathered at Warsash Sailing Club for a ‘fun’ weekend of Finn training and racing, including names such as Olympic Gold medallist Iain Percy, European champion Emilios Papathanasiou and two times world champion and Atlanta Gold Medallist, Mateusz Kusznierewicz.
The weekend was aimed at all groups of people, ranging from people who had never sailed a Finn before, to Finn veterans and RYA Team GBR sailors, attracting 30 sailors in total. Saturday took the form of a race-training day, which started with coaching from Percy, Papathanasiou and Kusznierewicz on how to rig and tune the boats. Sailors then went out on the water in their own boats or Finns kindly donated by members of the British Finn Association, to practice what they had learnt in the morning.
The 30 sailors were split into three groups and took to the water alongside the two Gold medallists and the European champion, who were sailing in brand-new boats donated by Devoti Sailing. Sights that were regularly seen were Percy helping to perfect talented RYA Team GBR sailor Andrew Simpson’s tacks and Kusznierewicz coaching fellow team GBR sailor and junior world champion, Chris Brittle.
Saturday night was a chance for the Finn sailors to get together and swap stories and hear how their heros had achieved their goals, and what it felt like to stand on the podium in the Olympic stadium. Pre-dinner snacks and drinks were provided by Ronstan, while the dinner was courtesy of North Sails.
Sunday was a unique chance and one that doesn’t happen in many sports, the Finn sailors got to line up against the best in the world and try out their skills in four races. Percy showed that although he has been out of the Finn for a while he has not lost any of his form, port-tacking the start line underneath Kusznierewicz and into the lead up the first beat.
Going into the last race Andrew Simpson was leading by four points and decided that he would swap boats with Percy, in order to sail in the newer boat. Simpson capsized at the end of the first downwind leg, and the centreboard stuck in the boat, preventing him from righting the boat and consequently losing out to Percy.
Percy was out to prove that he was the Olympic Gold medallist for a reason and went on to win the day’s racing with a total of 15 points. The European champion Papathanasiou finished second with 19 points, with Kusznierewicz just behind in third, with 20 points. First veteran was Howard Sellars with 32 points and first Junior was Charlie Cumbley with 25 points.
“Everyone has had a lot of fun this weekend”, commented Finn Class Chairman, John Greenwood, “thanks should go to Warsash Sailing Club for organising the great racing on Sunday, it has been fantastic to have such good sailors come over and show the way for everyone from club sailors, to the Laser sailors who wanted to try something different, to the Finn veterans.”
Volvo RYA youth squad sailor, Charles Baillie-Strong commented on his first Finn experience: “I have really enjoyed the weekend, it has been a good insight into other options after Lasers, and to have the top guys in the class coaching has been fantastic, it has been a great opportunity to try the Finn for the first time.”
Everyone agreed that the weekend was a huge success, but it would not have been possible without the help and support of the sponsors; Devoti Sailing who provided boats for the coaches, Preferred IT who provided the flights for Papathanasiou and Kusznierewicz, North Sails, Ronstan, BFA and the RYA. Thanks also go to Mike Till, David Howlett and Nick Daniels for lending their RIBs.
If anybody would like to get involved in Finn sailing or try a Finn for a day, they should contact Phil Laycock through the British Finn Association web site; www.finnuk.co.uk
1st Iain Percy 15 pts
2nd Emilios Papathanasiou 19 pts