All set for a spectacular Finn Gold Cup in Moscow

Last night at the opening ceremony, new Finn class president Balasz Hajdu (HUN) opened the 2005 Finn Gold Cup in front the 100 sailors and more than 200 officials, personnel and guests at the Moscow Sailing School.

The opening ceremony was very impressive with a marching band, majorettes and all the sailors lined up behind a local girl carrying a banner with their national letters on it. Dr Balazs Hajdu, said that it was a great honor to come to Russia, with its deep traditions in Finn sailing. In his speech he drew attention to the many Russian Finn sailors over the years, some of whom were present at this event including 1972 Bronze medalst Victor Popatov, Evgeny Chernov and Oleg Khoerpski.

Following the ceremony – which was attended by local dignitories including Mr Mikhail Stepaniants, The Chairman of the Moscow Sports Committee, Mr Alexander Kotenkov, President of Russian Sailing Sports, Mr Anatoly Yudaev, Vice-Chairman of Moscow Region Sports Committee and Mr Mikhail Tikhomirov Vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee – the sailors and guests were treated to a buffet of Russian style food followed by a band and dances by traditionally dressed girls. A dancing Russian bear also made an appearance!

Today, the practice races were sailed in a shifty, fitful wind. The wind was across the lake so only allowed first beats of 0.4 and 0.6 miles with the fleets sailing windward leeward courses. However, the usual sailors were near the front. Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Andrew Simpson (GBR) headed the Green fleet, although both were OCS, and Daniel Birgmark (SWE), Peer Moberg (NOR) and Marin Misura (CRO) were at the front of the Yellow fleet. The two course areas are run by two seperate race teams, one from Spain and one from Sweden, with assistance from Russian staff as well. Each course area also has a full International Jury, with Pat Healy (USA) as Chairman.

All the boats are now located at the day marina – an impessive construction – easily accommodating the 100 Finns on a specially built platform, with tents on land providing cafe and changing facilities and a small cruise ship moored next to it.

If everything goes to plan, four days of qualification races will be followed by a lay day and then two days of gold/silver finals.