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5 June 2007, 09:30 am
Windless Start
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Finn European Championship 2007
Balatonfoldvar, Hungary

No wind on day one of the 2007 ISAF Grade C1 Finn European Championship resulted in the cancellation of all races as sailors waited ashore in a vain hope that conditions would change. With a wind forecast that would depress even the most avid light-wind expert, the first day of the 2007 Europeans was a non-starter.
The day opened with bright blue skies and the lake like a mirror. The start time at 10:00 came and went with only the slightest hint of breeze on the water. All the weather reports for Monday predicted no more than 4 knots, so the sailors resigned themselves to a long day of waiting around. At 12:00 a moderate breeze filled in followed by dark clouds and eventually rain. Once the rain had cleared the wind decided to disappear as well and the postponement was extended with a rather hopeful statement of a start time at 16:50. However by 16:00 it was apparently clear that nothing was going to happen, so the race officer abandoned racing for the day.

Nine races are planned to be sailed over the six-day series, so there is no concern yet. The real concern in that the forecast for the coming days is not much better. With the Sailing Instructions stating that no more than two races can be sailed on any one day, and with the last day intended to be a Medal Race day, there are now four days to get in the eight scheduled races. However if one more day is lost, then the full series cannot be completed. Four races are required to constitute a valid series and looking at the worst case scenario, the Opening Series can be extended onto the final day and then no Medal Race will be sailed.

New Face

There are lots of new faces in the fleet in Hungary. One of them is Nitin MONGIA (IND) who campaigned a Star to try and qualify for the Olympic Games in 2004, but has now switched to the Finn. Prior to jumping into the Star he won the silver medal at the 2002 Asian Games sailing the OK Dinghy and then won the 2003 OK Dinghy World Championship on his home waters in Goa.

MONGIA said, 'We tried to purchase a new Star boat but that fell through because of lack of finances. I wanted to keep sailing so after the Asian Games last year I decided to get into a Finn and try and qualify for the 2008 Olympics.' At the Asian Games in Doha in 2006, MONGIA won the silver medal in the match racing sailing a Beneteau 7.5.

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Nitin MONGIA is helped by
Nick CRAIG to set up his rig
© Robert Deaves
The Indian sailor is one of several competitors here who have been recipients of help from the International Finn Association's FIDeS programme (Finn International Development Support) which aims to provide assistance to sailors from 'developing' Finn nations through the issue of used gear, discounts on new equipment and coaching support. He said, 'I'm really grateful for the help of the IFA in helping me get this boat and to the people at Devoti Sailing. They have all been really helpful.'

With statistics showing that the world's population is getting larger and taller, MONGIA is already at the right weight for Finn sailing and is one of a growing number of sailors from nations that have always been regarded as having populations historically too short or light to be competitive in the Finn. It is clear that this view is now changing with increasing numbers of sailors from Far Eastern countries coming into the Finn and being competitive.

Battle For Cascais

At the moment India has only one place at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais, although India now has two sailors vying for places at Cascais, the pre-Olympics and ultimately Qingdao. Nachhatar JOHAL (IND) joined the fleet earlier this year for the Rolex Miami OCR, but is not sailing in the Europeans. MONGIA has applied for a commission place in Cascais and is still hopeful that he will get to sail there after proving himself this week.

MONGIA realizes has a steep learning curve ahead of him. 'It's similar to the OK Dinghy in many respects, but I just need to work on set up and spend time in the boat.' In fact the current OK Dinghy World Champion Nick CRAIG (GBR), who is also competing this week, has helped MONGIA set up his Finn ready for the regatta, offering advice on mast rake settings and sail trim - one World Champion to another.

Racing continues on Tuesday at 10:00, wind permitting.

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

Robert Deaves (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Windless conditions on Lake Balaton:© Robert Deaves
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