Travellers Trophy Series 2019
A grand total of 70 Finn sailors from U23s to Legends participated in one or more of the six BFA Travellers Trophy events held during 2019. Each of the 6 age categories were keenly contested, as was the battle for the overall winner who was presented with the historic Silver Finn trophy. There was also a separate series of 4 events for Classic Finns, for boats built before 1985. An added bonus for 2019 was that winners were eligible to receive a grant to compete in a Finn World or European Championship in 2020. These events include the Gold Cup in Palma (Mallorca), the World Masters, Port Zelande (Netherlands), and both European championships in Gydnia (Poland).
The strongest competition in 2019 was amongst the Grand Masters (50 to 59 year olds) who finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th overall, separated by only 22 points. Previously in 2018 the U23s dominated the top of the fleet, taking the first 4 places. However, their dreams of sailing in the Olympics were cruelly dashed by the World Sailing decision to drop the Finn from Paris 2024.
The 2019 TT series started in April at the very friendly but chilly Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club with magnificent scenic views of the wild moors surrounding Grimwith reservoir, 1000 feet above sea level. Those that made the trip benefited from free post race coaching from Hector Simpson and wonderful northern hospitality, including an evening meal at the new clubhouse overlooking the lake.
Mengeham Rythe SC hosted the second event, the Southern Area Championship. The club – home to the largest UK Finn fleet is based up a creek in Chichester Harbour, providing the option to race in the harbour if weather conditions are not suitable in Hayling Bay. With light winds forecast for the weekend, racing in the harbour with a delayed started proved the best option to maximize the light breeze, with five races completing the series. The following week saw a trip to Harwich Sailing Club, a small and very friendly sailing club, which enjoys the luxury of a top quality race area within a relatively short sail from the shore.
The Nationals in Torbay was a sunny light wind event hosted by the dedicated race team at the friendly Brixham YC. The results of the Nationals are non-discardable for the Travellers Trophy, to encourage participation and also recognizing that this event is the main opportunity for all UK Finn sailors and indeed overseas competitors to race together. Several U23’s returned to sail in the Nationals, taking the top two spots overall, with James Skulczuk winning the National Champion title from Callum Dixon.
The Inland Championships at Oxford Sailing Club also served as the 2019 Classic Finn National Championship. With several Classics on display, Peter Blick proved to be the Classic Finn Champion for 2019.
Unfortunately the penultimate event of the series organised by Highcliffe Sailing club which was due to be sailed in Christchurch Bay had to be cancelled due to exceptional high winds and rough seas. They have kindly offered to host another event in 2021.
So to the final event, the UK Masters championship and Open at Warsash, on the Hamble River. Racing was held off Hill Head in the Solent. with four races concluded on the Saturday before 35 knot winds on the Sunday forced an early finish to the series.
David Howlett, Ben Ainslie’s Olympic coach and a former Finn campaigner himself presented the magnificent new stainless steel Finn sculptures to the winners in each category, and to the overall 2019 winner, John Greenwood who had traveled to everyone of the six Travellers Trophy events and managed to win three of them. A great result, an impressive dedication to the circuit and a strong inspiration to club sailors who lack the enthusiasm to travel to new venues and meet up with Finn fanatics from other areas.
For 2021, we hope to widen the series to new venues and the BFA also plans to institute a Club Championship trophy for the best combined scores across all the age categories at the National Championships in Torbay.