John Greenwood won his second World Masters Finn Championship by one point ahead of local favourite and five-times Olympian Fabris Minski

The Olympic Finn Class World Masters Championship took place 20-25 May in Split Croatia. With an entry 134 boats from 14 Nations including six entries from GBR. The competition was a six-race series over five days with a single start. Conditions for the regatta were forecast to be light forcing many competitors to follow weight reduction programmes in the months leading up to the regatta. In the event the conditions offered a mixture of wind strengths ranging from 5-6 knots to 18-22 knots all sailed in 18-20 degrees of brilliant sunshine.

The regatta began with a frustrating day of variable wind direction forcing the Race Committee to abandon two starts when the windward mark boat was reporting significant shifts in wind direction. What the first day did show was the significance of local wind driven currents of between .5 and 1 knots making the race track appear a one way street.

Day 2 two offered much more stable conditions with an 8-12 knot breeze. With the course favoured to the right, Larry Lemieux made a great start at the Committee boat and immediately tacked clear to the right-hand corner. He led round the windward mark and was never headed despite been yellow flagged for rocking down the run. Second was CZE 22 Roman Babicky, third Henry Sprague of the USA and Fabris Minski fourth. Greenwood finished sixth having started just below the bunch at the committee boat and rounding the windward mark in 14th. Tim Tavinor sailing in his first Masters and only second International event in 10 years finished ninth.

Race two followed immediately with the wind increasing slightly to 18 knots. Again the Committee boat was favoured but the wind shifted left 15 degrees favouring the boats on the left as they approached the windward mark. Alan Tucker from South Africa led the fleet despite his 82 kgs closely followed by Henry Sprague and four Croatian boats. Alan held his lead for a time but soon got overhauled by the heavier guys. On the second beat Fabris Minski took the lead which he kept to the finish. Second was Mrduljas Marin of Croatia, Greenwood recovered to third after hitting the right-hand side and fourth was Claudio Bosetti of Italy. Tavinor finished 24th after completing a 720 following a starting incident.

After the first day’s racing, Fabris Minski led with five points followed by Lemieux on seven points, Greenwood third on nine and Sprague fourth on 10 points.

Wednesday saw bright sunshine but no breeze at the midday start time. As the fleet went afloat racing was postponed. Racing eventually got underway after two general recalls and a black flag start in 5-6 knots of breeze. Lemieux led at the windward mark from Sprague followed by the pack. Greenwood rounded eighth with Minski fouling a starboard tack boat on the layline taking a 720 penalty. Lemeiux covered Greenwood closely up the second and last beats loosing the lead and the race to Antol Gabor of Hungary, Sprague was third and Greenwood fourth. This left Lemieux leading overall after three races, Sprague and Greenwood tied second and Minski fourth.

Day four saw a dramatic change of wind conditions with a 20-22 knot breeze and big swell from the south-west. Tim Tavinor led at the windward mark closely followed by Minski and Greenwood. When Minski capsized ant the gybe mark the two Brits led the fleet. Tavinor outpacing Greenwood up the second beat to win the race by a clear margin. Makjanic Mladen of Croatia was third with Minski recovering to secure fourth place. Lemeaux sailed well to secure sixth despite being hosed at the start by an aggressive Greenwood.

Race five followed immediately with Tavinor again leading the fleet at the windward mark. Greenwood covered Minski closely up the first beat and the two rounded second and third. By the leeward mark Greenwood led and was never challenged. Minski finished second, Mladen of Croatia third and a tiring Tavinor fourth.

Despite an attempt by Lemeaux to seek redress and have Greenwood disqualified for a premature start in race four, John Greenwood led overall by one point after discarding his sixth in race one, Fabris Minski was second, Larry Lemieux third, Makjanic Mladen of Croatia fourth and Henry Sprauge from the USA fifth.

Overnight the wind continued to increase which led to a postponement of the final race. With no racing scheduled to start after 3pm, the race committee sent the fleet afloat at 2pm, but with 24-27 knots recorded in the starting area, the fleet was ordered back to harbour and as a result John Greenwood was declared champion for a second time after his first title in Weymouth two years ago. The over 50 title went to Henry Sprague and the fantastic performance of Fabrise Minski earned him the 60 World title both men having specifically trained for this event over the last two years.

Overall the regatta was very well run with a lot of local support offered to the competitors. Next year’s event will be held in Germany with over 150 boats expected. When asked if he was going to defend his title Greenwood said: “That would be great, but family, work and Finn sailing is a difficult combination, even at this level. The boat and rig have been sold and it’s the London marathon, Oppie sailing and the GP Worlds in Abersoch with the kids for me next year, maybe the year after in Cannes.”

Overall Results

1st 40-49 GBR-5, Greenwood John Budworth Sailing Club (10.0pts)

2nd 60 CRO-1 Fabris Minski YC Labud (11.0 pts)

3rd 40-49 CAN-1 Lemieux Larry EYC (15.0 pts)

4th 40-49 CRO-15 Makjanic Mladen YC Split (20.0 pts)

5th 50-59 USA-74 Sprague Henry (21.0 pts)

6th 40-49 ITA-8 Bosetti Claudio Circolo Vela Torbole (36.0 pts)

7th 40-49 GER-310 Behrens Ralf WYCA (37.0 pts)

8th 40-49 NED-790 Okker Hein-Pieter WV Randmeer (39.0 pts)

9th 50-59 CRO-110 Cicarelli Luksa YC Labud (40.0 pts)

10th 40-49 GBR-6 Tavinor Timothy Maldon (41.0 pts)

11th 40-49 GER-10 Bieberitz Eberhard YC Schweriner (44.0 pts)

12th 50-59 ITA-66 Balthasar Roland WSC/CVT (51.0 pts)

13th 40-49 CZE-22 Babicky Roman NAREX Ceska Lipa 2 60 6 22 22 52.0

14th 50-59 CRO-88 Mrduljas Marin YC Split 24 2 27 13