An impressive 23 Finns competed at Rutland last weekend, the biggest turnout for several years...

23 Finns competed at Rutland last weekend, the biggest turnout for several years underlining the emergence of the Finn in the UK. The top juniors and the usual band of enthusiastic amateurs joined the funded sailors. The Scottish Finn fleet also drove down to compete.

The weather was far from kind for the event and the strong winds, which were forecast never materialised. Instead it was Rutland’s finest wind shifts that the fleet had to contend with mixed with wind strengths varying from nothing to 10 knots in the same race.

Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson and Ben Ainslie dominated proceedings never being too far from the front of the fleet despite the volatile wind. When they were found ‘wanting’ on the wrong side of a shift more often than not their superior boat speed managed to get them out of trouble. These ‘get out of jail cards’ were much sought after.

Race one was dominated by Chris Brittle who led from start to finish in what was to be the best wind of the weekend. Ben and Bart chased him all the way with Charlie Cumbley picking up third place. Race two belonged to Bart who pulled away after one circuit and led home from Ben with Matt Howard in third. In both races the chasing pack of 10 boats were all within a few boat lengths and the fight for the minor places was beginning to ‘hot up’.

Two minutes into race three the wind went right by 30 degrees favouring those on the left. Simon Stonehouse led Howard Sellars and Tim Carver round the mark with the top boys floundering down the pan. Tim took over on the second beat only to hit the wrong corner and ‘Stoney’ kept his nose in front. It was only a late burst from Ben Ainslie who had struggled to catch Simon that thwarted Simon’s bullet and 200 yards from the line he broke clear on the last reach to win the race with Charlie in 3rd and Bart in 4th. With the wind dying the final boats just beat the time limit and the fleet paddled back to the club. It is at least two miles from the dam back to the clubhouse

Drizzle, a fresh 12-knot breeze and the after effects of a few too many Tequilas greeted the fleet with the promise of a better day’s racing. With the wind shifting around racing was delayed long enough for the rain to stop and the wind to disappear with it. Shifty 5 knots appeared to be the order of the day yet again.

In race four Ben showed us yet again why he is the best in the world and despite challenges from Bart and Adam Cowling he held on for a bullet. Ed Greig was moving further up the fleet in every race and finished fourth.

Race five was started in a fluctuating 4 knots and with race officer desperate to complete the series the Finns sailed around for over an hour with holes in the wind littering the course and with the lead changing hands regularly. Bart won from Ben, with Charlie and Chris Brittle close behind. This left Ben and Bart within a point of each other, the winner of the next race taking the series.

As some of the boats were heading for home the wind filled in and it was looking promising. Or so we thought.

The first beat saw Mike Woodhead cross the fleet on port after hitting the left corner and with the wind continuing to bend the fleet was split with those on the right losing out ‘big time’. By the second beat the wind had died and Bart was leading from Chris Brittle. Ben was down the pan and began to hit corners in an attempt to catch up. It rarely works and even someone with Ben’s boat speed couldn’t pull it off. He let through Ed Greig who followed Bart and Chris home to the finish.

The fleet turned for home and sure enough on the way in the wind filled in.

It had been one of those weekends!

Finals results

1st Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson – 8 pts

2nd Ben Ainslie – 8pts

3rd Charlie Cumbley – 18pts

4th Chris Brittle – 20pts

5th Adam Cowling – 22pts

6th Simon Stonehouse – 33pts

By Phil Laycock