Some "old" sea dogs found the blustery conditions a bit willing in an all-star reunion of Finn sailors. Many of the world's best sailors were left a little worse for wear after yesterday's all-star Finn-class regatta in Auckland.
In choppy conditions, leading sailors such as Dean Barker and Russell Coutts, along with Olympic medallists Craig Monk, Brian Ledbetter, Jochen Schuemann and current world Finn champion Sebastian Godefroid, could all be excused for feeling totally exhausted after the event.
The 17 competitors were often left gasping for breath as they battled strong winds in four races off Hobson Wharf.
For many of them it was the first time they had been in a Finn in a very long time.
"I haven't sailed a Finn since the 1984 Olympics," said Coutts, who won gold in that event. "You realise you are a lot older and maybe not as fit," he said. "The racing was great and I don't think anyone had huge expectations."
Coutts finished thirteenth overall.
Barker, who finished 11th overall, also said it had been a long time since he set sail in a Finn. "It wasn't made easy in the breeze; it was quite gusty," he said. "I think everyone was out there to have some fun, which you did once you got over the initial pain."
Not surprisingly, Godefroid, from Belgium, won the event ahead of Ledbetter, from Seattle, and Stuart Bannatyne, a crewman on round-the-world yacht illbruck. "I think it was a really nice regatta. We should try and do it more often," said Godefroid. "Russell Coutts is a big name and to be racing in the same group as him was great," he said. Godefroid finished second in two races and third in another. "Until they called my name, I actually didn't know that I had won," he said. "Everybody in this race is a great sailor. I couldn't take for granted that I would automatically win."
New Zealand Finn sailor Clifton Webb organised the regatta, thinking it would be a good idea to make the most of the presence of some of the world's top sailors in Auckland. "It is the first time the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race have been here at the same time so we thought it would be good to organise an event," said Webb. "I think it has gone really well but I hope the sailors are still my friends after what I have put them through!"
1. Sebastian Godefroid 16 pts
2. Brian Ledbetter 18 pts
3. Stuart Bannatyne 19 pts
4. Craig Monk 21 pts
5. Richard Clark 22 pts
6. Stig Westergaard 27 pts
7. Anthony Nossiter 28 pts
8. Joe Spooner 29 pts
9. Jochen Schumann 31 pts
10. Dean Barker 35 pts
11. Glenn Bourke 39 pts
12. Peter Lester 39 pts
13. Russell Coutts 44 pts
14. Tony Mutter 44 pts