On a boiling hot afternoon in Vallensbaek, the opening ceremony of the 2009 Finn Gold Cup was held alongside the beautiful Vallensbaek harbour together with free drinks and an impressive feast laid on by the Municipality of Vallensbaek.
So far 89 Finn sailors from 30 nations have completed registration and measurement to compete for the 2009 title and on Sunday afternoon the practice race took place in the waters off the harbour.
The closeness of the upcoming competition was perhaps only matched by the closeness in the main event tent at the opening ceremony. The weather over the past week has been almost tropical with blue skies and soaring temperatures, with just enough breeze for the sailors to do some last minute training. A change in the weather on Sunday has brought cloudy and humid conditions with light offwind winds. Rain is expected sooner or later.
After a few short speeches by Mr Steen HILLEBRECHT, Chairman of Vallensbaek Sailing Club, Mr Balazs HAJDU, President of the International Finn Association and Mr Kurt HOCKERUP, the Mayor of Vallensbaek a band carried on proceedings accompanied by the chatter and munching of the Finn sailors, their guests, event officials and club members.
HAJDU said, "I am very proud that the Finn class chose Vallensbaek and Copenhagen in Denmark for the 2009 Finn Gold Cup because Denmark has been and still is a great supporter of Finn sailing.
"I am also happy and proud to see such a huge fleet in Denmark this year, especially in a post Olympic year. I wish all the best to our sailors, fair wind and may the best man win."
HOCKERUP said, "It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the biggest sailing event in Denmark this year. It is 50 years since the Finn Gold Cup was last held in Denmark, when the greatest sailor ever from Denmark, Paul ELVSTRÖM, won."
"Being one of the largest sailing clubs in Denmark, I know from personal experience that Vallensbaek YC is well qualified to host this event in the best possible way. Vallensbaek harbour will provide a great framework for the event. You will be given excellent conditions for some great racing.
"I would like to thank everyone involved in contributing to make this event a success and wish you all a fair week with competitive racing. Good luck to you all."
The practice race on Sunday was a quiet affair in a 4-7 knot offshore wind, that proved very tricky. By the final leg only seven boats remained in the race with Henry BAGNALL
(GBR) sailing well to take a very narrow victory from Uwe BARTHEL
At the class AGM on Saturday night the meeting discussed various issues. The major championship calendar to 2012 was completed with the 2012 Finn Gold Cup going to Falmouth, Great Britain, the 2012 Europeans to Scarlino, Italy and the 2011 Finn Silver Cup (Junior Worlds) returning to Moscow Sailing School.
The 2008 Olympic silver medallist Zach RAILEY
(USA), who is also the Vice-President - Development, reported on the progress of a pilot programme to get junior sailors started in the USA, which has resulted in Caleb PAINE
(USA) attending regattas in Europe and this Finn Gold Cup. RAILEY said the goal was for the programme to be adopted by at least five more countries this year.
RAILEY also updated the meeting of progress with the 2010 FGC at St Francis YC in San Francisco, USA. The FGC will be preceded by the Silver Cup (Junior World Championship) where it is hoped 25 boats will be made available by the strong and growing US fleet for the Juniors.
It was noted that the class marketing strategy was working well with more than 20,000 hits on the Finn Channel, the Finn classes YouTube site that was launched last November, as well as through the Finn Focus reports from each day of the World Cup regattas since Palma.
With no rule changes on the table this year, discussion turned to ways to encourage more juniors into the class (this year's Silver Cup in August has already attracted 45 young sailors), ways to prevent unrestricted gear development and its related high costs, as well as plans to organise transport of boats in containers or curtain-siders between major regattas so sailors spend less time on the road.
Time To Go Sailing
An event the size and complexity of a World Championship takes a lot of work to get everything right and running smoothly and the organisers here have seemingly though of everything.
Jakob NYBROE from the organizing committee said, "Hosting a Finn Gold Cup is no small task - the class carries a great deal of prestige, and therefore also a lot of attention from our national authorities, the sailing federation, ministry of culture etc. Michael BERNFELD and I have been the primary drivers, and we've basically been at it since we got the event awarded nearly two years ago.
"Vallensbaek Sailing Club is 100% based on the efforts and time spent by volunteers - that goes for the organising committee as well as for the close to 50 people who will spend parts of their vacation making the event a great experience for all participants.
"For this regatta we have gone to great lengths in making the event itself as convenient as possible for the participants - that means that all social events and official functions will take place at the venue itself, and it also means that the participants don't have to worry about paying for food and drinks during the 'after sail/wet bar'. The same applies to the opening reception, the prize giving, and the food for the mid-week party."
NYBROE concluded, "We are really looking forward to starting the event - there has been enough planning and organising - now it's time to go racing and have fun!"
The first two races of the championship are scheduled for Monday morning at 11:00.
Follow events as they happen on the Twitter feed and Finn Class Blog at http://finnclass.blogspot.com.
Following The Racing Live - From Anywhere In The World!
Those around the world wishing to follow the Finn's top event this year will be able to do so for all races, in real time, over the internet via the TracTrac tracking system. The Finn Gold Cup is part of Denmark's 'Year of Sport', a series of event across many sports, culminating in the IOC Olympic Session and the Olympic Congress at the beginning of October. In line with their desire to hold events to the highest standards, the Danish Sailing Association has laid on the tracking with support from insurance company CODAN (part of Sun Alliance Group). TracTrac will also provide tracking during the other Year of Sport sailing events, the Laser Radial Europeans, EUROSAF Match Racing Europeans and the 470 World Championship.
A Danish company, Tractrac has provided tracking of boats in numerous sailing events from the Volvo Ocean Race in-port races to major Olympic class gatherings such as this year's Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia-MAPFRE and Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2008. They also provide tracking for other major events in rowing, triathlons, orienteering, skiing, running, etc.
Tracking is a vital ingredient for modern day communication of sailing events as for anyone around the world with an internet connection, it allows a bird's eye view of the racing that can be even better than being out on the water watching.
It is of great benefit to sailing events on so many levels. It is the ideal partner for TV footage, being the best tool to explain to non-sailors what is happening on the race course. This in turn is of value to sponsors involved with the event.
Tractrac also offers the facility to watch races live or for replay later. For the sailors this allows them to watch the races afterwards and analyse them with their coaches as can journalists covering the event, who can single out sailors from their own countries to see exactly where it went 'wrong' or went 'right' for them.
Live tracking of the Finn Gold Cup can be viewed here at www.tractrac.com/fgc.
Click here for a full preview of the runners and riders ahead of this year's Gold Cup.