Zbogar the European champ
Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) has won the 2013 Finn European Championships in Warnemünde, Germany after all racing on the final day was cancelled with the wind failing to stabilise over four knots. Ed Wright (GBR) takes the silver and Andrew Murdoch the bronze.
The sailors have played a waiting game all week and the final day was no different. The forecast cloud cover did not materialise but the race course was largely windless nonetheless, with searingly hot sunshine at least offering the promise of something later in the day. An early one hour postponement was replaced by an open postponement as the first signs of the developing sea breeze appeared on the race course. With an ultimate deadline for 15.00 to start any racing, for both the medal race and the final race, time was not on the sailor's side, especially considering that all week the sea breeze hadn't stabilised until around 15.00 each day.
And that was how it played out. The fleet race was cancelled at 13.30, the medal race was cancelled at 14.00, and the sea breeze arrived slighty kater although still very light compared to previous days. This left the results standing from Friday. The week had ended how it began, with no racing taking place.
In taking the title, Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) wins his first major championship in the Finn class. He was clearly the best sailor here this week and fully deserves to lift the trophy. In spite of two breakages which cost him valuable points he kept his usual cool and consistency to remain in control and win the last two races.
He said, “The week was quite hard but I like these sort of conditions, and I took advantage of it and sailed really conservative and good races all the time. Straight from the beginning I was trying to be conservative and not make big mistakes and that paid off in the beginning of the regatta and I just continued like that. My boatspeed was really good so I didn't want to mess around too much, and looking back the worst first mark rounding was fourth place so that was extremely good and I am very proud of that.”
“We've been working really, really hard during the winter in Valencia, so all this training is now paying off. Myself and Luca Devoti and all the rest of the team, the physio, the fitness coach, I think they are all pretty happy now, and so am I.”
“And it of course been already exactly 10 years since I won my Laser European title in Split in 2003, so after 10 years it sounds a lot of time, but it passed very quickly, and that result in the Laser gave me a lot of confidence, along with the Olympic medals, so I hope this result gives me more strength to get even more results in the next three years.”
Ed Wright has been on top form this week, and even though his coach this week, Paul Hobson (GBR) would like to take some of the credit, Wright has been putting in the hours at his Garda training base and deserves this medal as much as anyone here.
He said, “I am very happy to have come away with the silver. It was a pretty tricky week with a lot of light winds and some medium stuff. Downwind in a couple of races was really great out there. The waves can be amazing, especially in the Finn. Vasco sailed slightly better with good starts and probably was a bit faster throughout the week., especially downwind. The venue was wonderful, the organisation was good and the race committee did a great job and overall I am pretty happy going into the worlds in three weeks time in Tallinn, so I am excited for that.”
For third placed Andrew Murdoch (NZL) this event is only his third major Finn regatta and, along with Josh Junior (NZL) in fifth, are the sailors on perhaps the fastest learning curve at the moment, so it is probably when, not if, one of them will take a major win. It has been a long time since New Zealand has been a world leading Finn nation, but perhaps those times are just around the corner once again.
He said, “Obviously I am really happy to get the bronze in my first season in the Finn and it's actually better than I have done in the Laser Europeans, so really happy with that and now looking forward to the build up to Tallinn and the Finn Gold Cup and see how it goes there.”
In the Juniors Peter McCoy (GBR) has led the 16 boat fleet all week. After finishing just outside the medals at the 2013 Silver Cup a few weeks back, this week has proven he can handle the extra challenge of the senior fleet. Jake Lilley (AUS) closed the gap in the last few days, but could not reduce the points gap enough to pass McCoy. Lennart Luttkus (GER) takes the host's country's only medal at this event with the junior bronze.
McCoy said, “It's been a tough week but I am really happy to come away with the junior European title. It feels good after the juniors worlds coming just outside the medals in fourth. Jake sailed a really good event and put the pressure on towards the end of the racing but I am happy to come away with it at the end, it was close racing.
The new European Champion, Vasilij Zbogar placed sixth in the London 2012 Olympics after finishing as runner up at the 2012 Finn Europeans. He is better known as a double Olympic medallist in the Laser class (bronze in Athens, silver in Beijing). He is the key sailor at Luca's Devoti's Dinghy Academy in Valencia, which the Finn Class is supporting through limited campaign funding for eligible sailors. He has been training hard there since the end of 2012 and this result is clear evidence of the value of the integrated training programme that has been set up there.
In addition, Alican Kaynar (TUR) in tenth, Zsombor Berecz (HUN) in 14th, Frederico Melo (POR) in 22nd, and at his first Finn regatta, 18 year old Joe McMillan (AUS) in 61st, are also part of the Dinghy Academy team here, coached by Devoti. All have clearly benefited from Devoti's coaching and the training regime.
At the prizegiving on Saturday evening in sunny Warnemünde, Vasilij Zbogar lifted the Finn European Championship title for 2013. Everyone is sure there is a lot more to come from this talented sailor.
The sailors now have a brief respite before gathering again in a few weeks time Tallinn, Estonia for the Finn Gold Cup from 23-31 August.
Full results here