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5 June 2007, 05:07 pm
Racing Underway
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Finn European Championship 2007
Balatonfoldvar, Hungary

Against all the odds, two perfect races were completed today in the 2007 ISAF Grade C1 Finn European Championship. Bullets went to Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) and Oleksiy BORYSOV (UKR), but it is Eduard SKORNYAKOV (RUS) who holds the overall lead after a 4,8 start.
Two perfect races were sailed under sunny blue skies with light cloud and 5 to 7 knots of wind. An overnight change in the weather brought a southeasterly breeze to Lake Balaton. Many sailors turned up late this morning expecting another postponement, but were surprised to find a somewhat healthy wind in place and boats already launching for the first start at 10:00.

In the light winds of today, course 2 was sailed - a double return loop with a spacer mark at the windward mark and a gate at the leeward end, before a short reach to the finish line.

PAPATHANASIOU Win

Race 1 of the championships got under way first time with an individual recall. Stefan DE VRIES (NED) and Florian RAUDASCHL (AUT) failed to return and were pulled out at the first mark. Many boats favoured the pin end which became a bit crowded, but the 2001 European Champion Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) started at the committee boat and made the best of the first beat on the right hand side. Most of those who started at the pin rounded the top mark in the 30s.

At the first mark PAPATHANASIOU was followed by Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO), Joao SIGNORINI (BRA) and Andrew CASEY (USA). Most of the fleet gybed on the spacer mark and headed to the left side of the run where there appeared to be more pressure. PAPATHANASIOU eased out ahead and rounded the right hand gate to be followed by KLJAKOVIC GASPIC and SIGNORINI. SKORNYAKOV had moved up to fourth with Brendan CASEY (AUS) in fifth.

The second beat followed much the same pattern with PAPATHANASIOU favouring the right and maintaining his lead. Several of those trying to recover from a bad first beat tried the left again and made up some ground. Current World Champion Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) rounded the first mark in the 30s, but managed to recover to 16th by the finish.

SIGNORINI passed the Croatian on the second beat, but on the final run to the finish, KLJAKOVIC GASPIC got past the Brazilian and made a strong challenge for the lead, with a frantic gybing dual between himself and PAPATHANASIOU. However, the Greek held the inside track and gybed first to lead to the finish.

Race 2

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Downwind on day one
© IFA
The second race started almost immediately in the same conditions, although the wind did strengthen slightly during the race. This time the pin end was relatively empty. André BUDZIEN (GER) started right on the mark with HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN just to windward. After the experience of the first race, most of the fleet headed towards the right side. Even those who started at the pin soon tacked off to the right. However a shift to the left favoured those who had been conservative and stayed towards the middle or the left.

First round the top mark was Michal HRUBY (CZE) followed by BUDZIEN, BORYSOV, Karel VAN HELLEMOND (NED), Andrew CASEY, Nick CRAIG (GBR) and HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN. The race was very much a repeat of race 1, except with different faces at the front.

At the gate HRUBY still held the lead with BORYSOV moving up to second. On the second beat most boats now favoured the left hand side, with just a few venturing right. By the second windward mark, VAN HELLEMOND had taken the lead from BORYSOV, with BUDZIEN still in third. Positions on the final run remained much the same except BORYSOV passed VAN HELLEMOND to take the winner's gun.

Overall Standings

With a fourth and an eighth, SKORNYAKOV is the overnight leader after two races with CASEY in second, PAPATHANASIOU in third.

Speaking after the race, PAPATHANASIOU said, 'In the first race, I got a nice start and went most of the way to the right and then got a shift back to lead round the top mark. On the run I was playing with about four or five boats and made sure of the race by moving ahead of everyone. On the second beat I went right again, and lead to the finish. On the second race I tried the same thing but the wind went left half way up the first beat and I rounded the top mark in about 30th. I had a good run and second beat and moved up to 13th by the finish. It is a good start to this championship.'

He continued, 'In these conditions you need to really concentrate on what is going on and watch the shifts. The wind strength was fairly stable but it was shifting about 15 degrees either way, so at no time can you relax. However I am very happy with the racing. The Race Officer did a good job, set a good line and course and it was good racing.'

Winner of race two, 24 year old BORYSOV added, 'I am very satisfied with my day's racing, This is my first ever major championship race win. Basically I just tried to find the best pressure and sail with that and it seemed to work.' BORYSOV has made steady progress in recent years, so it is good to see that dedication rewarded with good results.

BUDZIEN Wins World Masters

Last week the Finn World Masters Championship was held in Murcia, Spain. The winner of that event was BUDZIEN from Germany. After four consecutive years of finishing as the runner up, he finally clinched the title in impressive style with five race wins. After today's racing he commented, 'I tried the same thing in both races today, starting at the pin and trying to go left. In the first race the wind went right so I didn't do so well. In the second race, I started right next to the pin and was one of the last to tack back to the right. I rounded the top mark second and finished third, so I am very pleased with that.' Lying 14th overall he is currently the leading German sailor in the event.

In the Junior event, it looks like a hard fight is ahead for many of the younger sailors. The top junior is currently Josip OLIJIC (CRO) who is lying in 38th place after an impressive eighth in race 1. Just two points behind him is Marko KOLIC (ITA) who scored an 18th in race 2. The third placed junior is Andriy GUSENKO (UKR) in 41st place.

Two more races are scheduled for Wednesday, starting at 10:00. Again the prediction is for very little wind, but even now at 17:00 local time there is still a solid breeze of up to 10 knots across the lake, so the sailors live in the hope that the forecasters can sometimes be wrong.

For all the news on the Finn European Championship CLICK HERE.

Robert Deaves (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Emilios PAPATHANASIOU on his way to a bullet in race 1:© IFA
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