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25 August 2009, 09:58 am
Perfect Finn Racing For Opening Day Of Europeans
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic on the run
Croatia's Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic leads the way after the first day of racing in Bulgaria

AGB Finance Finn European Championship 2009
Varna, Bulgaria

What could be better? Wind, sun, waves, good racing... the Finn sailors truly enjoyed their first day in the European Championship on the Black Sea.
The city of Varna and its sea garden bordered with sandy beaches, offered a nice background for the racing set close to shore. The consistent onshore breeze kept increasing offering perfect conditions. The waves lengthened forming a swell allowing good surfing on the downwind legs.

With free pumping allowed from the second half of the first race, racing became physical and fun.

World ranked #1 skipper Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) and Giles Scott (GBR) have taken a win each and lead the scoreboard. ISAF Sailing World Cup leader Ed Wright (GBR) is third on equal points with Scott. Only two points separate the top three sailors after consistent racing.

Racing started on scheduled at 12am with a north-easterly breeze averaging 10 knots.

The race committee under the guidance of "Finn Olympic PRO" Peter Reggio set a windward leeward course and race one started on the first attempt, with individual recall penalising Jonathan Lobert (FRA), Jan Kurfeld (GER) and Efe Kuyumcu (TUR).

The left side of the beat proved favoured with more pressure and better angle provided by the proximity of the coast. Tapio Nirkko (FIN) led the fleet to the top mark followed by Marin Misura (CRO), Mihail Kopanov (BUL) and Kljakovic Gaspic. Gaspic passed to the front on the run to win the first race of the championship in front of Wright and Pieter-Jan Postma (NED). It was a tight race among the juniors, Lauri Väinsalu (EST), Filippo Baldassari (ITA) and Josip Olujic (CRO) finished top three juniors in respectively 23rd, 24th and 25th position!

The wind increased to 14 knots in the second race. The Oscar flag (allowing free pumping downwind) was displayed providing some very athletic racing, with boats surfing the big rolling waves.

Once again, Nirkko was first at the top mark. The Finnish has made his gains upwind but seemed to loose some ground on the run. He was closely followed by Lobert and Scott. With Nirkko still in front at the end of the second beat, the race was played on the physical skills to master the wind and waves on the last run to the finish. Scott passed Nirkko on the run to take the race while Nirkko placed in second in front of Gaspic.

Back to the Yacht Club, the pleasure of sailing today was evident among the sailors. "It was lots of fun!" admitted Deniss Karpak (EST). "I have really enjoyed the stronger wind and waves." The 22 years old Estonian has been steadily improving in the Finn after a switch last year from the Laser. A sixth and a seventh today place him in sixth position overall.

The Juniors have equally enjoyed the conditions even if the second race proved harder to handle. "I like racing here as the conditions are similar to the one I am used to on the Russian part of the Black sea in Anapa", declared Egor Larionov (RUS), Junior World Championship runner up. "I especially enjoy the windier races where I usually race better!" The young Russian is fifth junior in 30th place.

After two races Baldassari leads the Junior fleet of 22 boats. He is in 22nd position overall, trailed by Tomas Vika (CZE) in 24th and Vainsalu 26th.

Two races are scheduled for Tuesday.

Results - click here

Corinne Rolland-McKenzie
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