23 Finns turned out for the final event of the British Finn Travellers series, traditionally hosted by Warsash Sailing Club.
The weather on the Saturday morning was unseasonably warm and sunny, and sailing out to the Solent race course it looked like the promise of a 15-17 knot south westerly was going to be a little over-optimistic. With the forecast of a lot less breeze on Sunday, PRO Nigel Russell wisely opted to run 4 races on Saturday, which proved a good call. By the time the fleet gathered off Solent Breezes and the course set for the 12.30 start the wind was up to a steady 15 knots with a lumpy sea building with the flood tide.
The Finns got away first time for the first race, following the Hadron fleet who were sharing the course but on an outer loop, with Lawrence Crispin (Stone SC) making the best start and taking the middle/left side of the beat while many tacked off to the right to exploit the weaker tide inshore. Despite taking the un-favoured left, Lawrence still managed to round ahead of the rest of the fleet but unfortunately, his great start proved a little too good and was adjudged OCS, handing the win to Kristian Sjoberg (NJK) who battled hard to try and pass the flying Crispin downwind. Tim Carver (Warsash SC) sailed a strong race to claim second, ahead of Simon Percival in 3rd (Christchurch SC). James Downer (Gurnard SC) who had sailed over from the Island to the Hillhead race area also scored an OCS after challenging the leaders hard downwind.
The competitive fleet was closely bunched at each mark and the lack of a leeward gate in the solid 16-knot breeze made for some exciting leeward mark roundings, where boats were closely overlapped and resulted in a least one collision that caused damage.
After a quick turnaround by the race team, the second race was soon underway, with the course moved a little further towards Calshot, as the building 17 South-westerly began to clock right. This provided more incentive to start at the Committee Boat end of the line and head off to the right-hand side of the course, which made it quite congested and hard to get a clear lane off the line. Those more confident of their upwind speed started to leeward of the committee boat bunch in order to get a good start, then looked to tack over as soon as the traffic to windward cleared. Crispin, Percival and Carver again dominated at the windward mark, with Crispin getting the gun as he crossed at the end of the two lap windward-leeward course of the 40-minute race, ahead of Simon Percival in another TT-2 hull, Tim Carver and the sole Open category entry- Jim Downer in 4th.
By Race 3, the wind had built to 17 knots and the sea state to its most lumpy, demanding a good rig set-up and enough weight in the boat to drive it hard over the waves and avoid any slamming or bouncing from catching one wrong. Again the race course was one-sided, as the breeze shifted further right to 235 degrees. This time it was the turn of local expert Martin Hughes (Warsash SC) to challenge Crispin at the front of the fleet, after finally getting over his affliction in the previous races of getting rather too attracted to the bright orange inflatables that defined the course. Mike De Courcy (Hayling Island SC) had his best result in 3rd, overcoming the trauma of his boat being damaged in the first race, pipping the consistent Kristian Sjoberg in 4th. Kristian later admitted that after a long summer break, he had given his all hiking in the first race and was struggling to keep up with the heavier sailors in the solid breeze and waves.
By the final fourth race, there were many pairs of legs screaming for a rest and the exhilarating downwinds provided an all too brief respite, as the upper body took more of the load but the legs were still needed to keep you upright. It was noticeable that whilst there were several swims spotted in the Hadron fleet, the more substantial Finns all remained firmly upright!
Grand Master Lawrence Crispin maintained his dominance of the fleet to record his third win of the day, this time just holding off the energetic James Downer who worked hard on his drop-pumping downwind to claim second place. Great Grand Master Kristian proved his underlying fitness in third and Master Kieron Holt, who also scored his best result of the day, as the younger sailors climbed the fleet – underlining the subtle balance of experience and fitness that makes sailing a Finn such a rewarding experience.
As the fleet reached back to Warsash in the sun, all were exhilarated from a great day’s sailing but more than glad to rest weary limbs and refuel with a beer and a pie and mash dinner provided by the unique Manda, the Club’s extrovert caterer. Martin Hughes then held an auction in support of the Richard Blowman fund to maintain the Finn-spiration boat that the Class fundraised to buy earlier in the year. Some great products generously supplied by Baltic were bid for, with members of the well-heeled Hadron fleet proving the most successful bidders! The Finn-spiration class loan boat has been well used this year, introducing potential new Finn owners to the boat at Warsash, Christchurch, West Kirby, Draycote and Hayling Island. If you would like to try a Finn then contact the class via the website here
Sunday’s forecast proved accurate and the two fleets were treated to another hot but sadly windless morning at the 9.00 am briefing. An hour’s postponement was called as Nigel Russell watched patiently to see if the 3-knot northerly would turn around to the hoped-for 7 knot South-westerly, but at 11.30 the wind had not appeared and everyone agreed to call it a day.
This left Lawrence Crispin as the clear winner with a perfect scoreline after discarding his OCS, ahead of Kristian Sjoberg on 8 points and Class Secretary Simon Percival in third with 11, equal points with Jim Downer in fourth. The points were close throughout the fleet, underlining the high level of competition in the UK Finn Class, which despite the loss of Olympic status still attracts the best sailors who appreciate the rewards of this thoroughbred pinnacle of single-handed dinghies.
Photos by Jacqui Trippier
Many thanks to the generous sponsors:
Warsash Co-op store.
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