Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Long day afloat for just one race at Finn Europeans

Despite attempts to get the racing back on track, the Finn Open Senior and
Junior Europeans Championships was again saddled with uncooperative and
unusual weather conditions with the wind playing games with the race officer
and the sailors all day. More than 10 starts were attempted, two races were
abandoned, and one race stood, with the win going to Finn newcomer Mate
Arapov (CRO) from Split.

In the first start in 12-15 knots, Rafa Trujillo (ESP) led from the middle
right on the first upwind to build a commanding lead downwind. Then the wind
shifted 130 degrees and switched off.

More than an hour later another start was attempted in a very shifty and
patchy northerly breeze. There was a big left shift half way up with Arapov
rounding the top mark ahead of Bjorn Allansson (SWE), Trujillo, Deniss
Karpak (EST), Peer Moberg (NOR) and Vasiliy Zbogar (SLO).

Arapov said, "The first race was very nice for me. I got a good start right
on the pin and I made a good decision on the middle half of the first
upwind. The left side was good and I rounded the first mark in the lead. On
the first downwind I didn't lose my advantage and I chose the right gate
which gained me 50 metres and then during the second upwind I was just
covered the fleet."

"The last downwind was difficult. The wind was stopping and everyone caught
me up from behind. But I chose the right side downwind where there more more
breeze. Rafa put me under pressure at the end of the second upwind but he
went on the left side downwind and lost out a bit."

Arapov was followed over the finish line by Moberg, Karpak, Allansson and
Zbogar. Ed Wright (GBR) had moved up to third, but a yellow flag in the
final 100 metres dropped him to 10th.

Arapov is new to the Finn. "I sailed Split Olympic Week this year and was
second, and have maybe sailed 20 times since." He sailed in the Sydney and
Athens Olympics in the Laser and is now beginning a Star campaign for
London, but said, "The Finn is nice. I am now 92 kg so it's good for me. I
have bought a boat, but we will see."

After another hour wait for the wind to stabilise, race two got away at the
third attempt but the massive pressure variation on the first beat was a
hint of things to come, and it was finally abandoned at the end of the first
downwind while Rafal Szukiel (POL) and Ivan Kjlakovic Gaspic (CRO) were well
ahead of the chasing pack.

Trujillo said, "It was a very difficult day for the race committee and the
sailors. We went out with a nice Sirocco, the typical wind from the east,
and the day looks easy. Perfect Finn conditions. And then the wind died. In
the second race there were really difficult conditions, shifty and big
pressure difference. I was happy with seventh place, even though I was
second for most of the race. Any top ten place here is good."

"In the last race I know the race committee needed to push to get the race
in while there was wind, but it was turning into a 'carnival' race. Full
credit to the race officer though he tried to make a good race, but in the
end he had to cancel. That's the game."

"In the end it is not important how many races we have, what is important is
getting in good races. This is the second most important regatta of the year
for us."

Was he happy with his speed. "I don't know. With 20 degree shifts, if you
take the right shift you look fast, if you take the wrong shift you look
slow. In the last race I was super slow! Trujillo is one of those counting
his good fortune. Many favourites were buried mid fleet or worse after the
first upwind.

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