Lining up for the Europeans

Finns head for the Black Sea

Sunday August 23rd 2009, Author: Corinne McKenzie, Location: United Kingdom
For the first time ever, the Finns will race a major championship on the Black Sea.
The Yacht Club Captain G. Georgev in Varna, Bulgaria will host the AGB Finance - 2009 Finn Open Championship in the Senior and Junior divisions over 21-29 August.

Over 70 sailors have gathered from 21 countries with strong attendance recorded from Eastern Europeans. Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Greece and the host country Bulgaria have sent full contingents in both juniors and seniors division.

There is a strong field of varied talent ready to fight for the title. 2006 European champion Ed Wright (GBR) and 2007 European champion Eduard Skornyakov (RUS) will try to regain the title won last year by Ben Ainslie, who has taken a break after his Olympic victory. World ranking leader, Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO), Giles Scott (GBR) or Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) are among the favourites. However, there are many other sailors that could reach their full potential after steadily improving throughout the year. Rafal Szukiel (POL), winner of Kiel Week or Deniss Karpak (EST) who has started in the Finn late last year after competing in the Laser in Beijing, will be in contention for the title.

Over 20 juniors will contest their European title, only three weeks after disputing their World Championship in Balatonfured. Last year winner Jan Kurfeld will be racing his first Europeans in the senior division. Junior World Silver and Bronze medallists, Egor Larionov (RUS) and Andryi Gusenko (UKR) are among the favourites. They will face the strong Czech and Polish teams both eager to produce a winner by the end of the week.
The youngest participant is Dimitar Vangelov from Bulgaria. At the age of 17, Vangelov started racing in a Finn four months ago and participated in the Junior World last month finishing 32nd in a fleet of 50 boats.

Bulgarian Finn sailor, Mihail Kopanov has raced on the Finn circuit for many years and is enthusiastic about this major event on his home waters. “This is very good for Bulgarian Sailing. For once, the top world sailors are coming to race here in our country! This is also the biggest Olympic class event ever organised in Bulgaria and I think it will bring good experience and confidence for future events.”

The Bulgarian Federation has worked hard to provide the event with the best organisation and services and have secured the participation of main sponsor AGB Finance and the Municipality of Varna. In a press conference held in the Palace of Culture and Sport, the President of the Bulgarian Sailing Federation, Mr. Chavdar Alexandrov Stoylov expressed his content that such an event as the Finn European Championship was held in the Black Sea Region: “The ambition of the new management of the Federation is to organise even bigger and prestigious events which would bring a positive image not only to sailing in Bulgaria but also to the country as a touristic destination.” The Director of “Junior activities and sport department” of Varna municipality, Mrs Kalinka Popstefanova underlined the involvement and aim of the municipality to support the development of water sports in Varna and wished fair winds and competition.”

Racing will start from 1200 on Monday with two races scheduled each day until Friday. The medal race for the best ten sailors and a final race for the rest of the fleet are planned on Saturday 29 August, final day of the event.

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