Let the celebrations begin

Robert Deaves previews the Finn 60th anniversary regatta

Friday August 14th 2009, Author: Robert Deaves, Location: United Kingdom
It says on the T-shirts “Where it all started…” and for the 56 Finn sailors who made it to Uppsala, despite the horrible forecast, that is what it is all about. This is where the class started and the club, looking much the same as when the first Finn was launched in 1949, is steeped in Finn history. The famous portrait of the boat’s designer, Rickard Sarby adorns the clubhouse wall, while old Bruder wooden masts are still stored in the roof of the boatshed.

So far, Lake Ekoln is living up to its name. In Norse, I am told, it means ‘difficult sailing’ and that about sums up the first two days on the water.

Friday night was the practice race. Ominous black clouds put off some, but 15 hardy sailors ventured out in light winds. By the time the race started, the sailors were rewarded with heavy rain, 20 knot winds, and a thunder and lightning show on all sides.. The drop rate was high and only six boats finished. Fittingly the race win went to event organiser Sverker Hard after finding a large shift on lap two to take the lead to the finish. The rain continued unabated most of the night

But Friday dawned sunny and warm with a good forecast. It looked idyllic, but from the clubhuse you can’t se the wind shifts. The fleet sailed to the other end of this section of the lake to get the best conditions and four excellent but ‘difficult’ races were completed. Starting in 4-5 knots and maxing out at 15-18 knots the day ended with another thunderstorm.

Day one belonged to the large Dutch team sailing here. Karel Van Hellemond (NED) took four race wins to lead overnight, winning a couple of the races by large margins to stamp his authority on the races so far. Thierry van Vierssen (NED), Cees Scheurwater (NED), Jan Willem Kok (NED) and Henk de Jager (NED) fill out the top five spots after a day of consistent sailing in very inconsistent conditions. Large shifts and pressure differential across the course area meant you were never sure of anything until the finish. However the race team did well to get in four one hour races which left most of the fleet looking forward to that first beer and sandwich ashore.

The leading Swedish sailor is Mickael Brandt (SWE), a local legend here who started sailing Finns at Uppsala Kanotforening while Rickard Sarby was still active in the club. Brandt is in 7th, just one place ahead of Johan Wijk (SWE), who is just five points behind in the race for the Swedish title.

Tonight the fleet are being treated to a lavish dinner in the boatshed of the sailing club. Three more races are scheduled for Saturday, with the final two races on Sunday.

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