Photos from Day 6

Jonathan Lobert seals first major Finn title after solid week in Marseille

After a fabulous finale to a challenging week, Jonathan Lobert of France won his first ever major title in the Finn class. Ed Wright and Ben Cornish of Great Britain, both survived the Semi-Final to meet Lobert in the Final and secured silver and bronze.

Henry Wetherell made it three medals for Great Britain by winning the U23 European Championship. Arkadiy Kistanov of Russia took silver and Oskari Muhonen of Finland won the bronze.

Like the rest of the week, it was a long day with three races to get in. It started windless and with a long postponement onshore before the final race of the Opening Series could be sailed. It turned out to be one of the best races of the week, with nice waves, 10-15 knots, and sunny skies. Though the regatta leaders had already qualified for the Final, they both elected to sail the race. Anders Pedersen of Norway led all the way round for a huge win, to take the overall lead, while Lobert struggled and dropped to second overall.

Nicholas Heiner from the Netherlands, finished second, which boosted him into the top 10, while Wetherall secured the U23 title with a seventh place finish to also make the top 10. This meant that two of the three Croatians, who had all sailed an excellent week, dropped out of the top 10.

Wetherell said, “It’s really good to win the under 23 European Championships. It’s been an up and down week. I started off well, had a little dip mid-week and then had a good last race today and just managed to squeak into the top ten.”

“It was a really close race with Arkadiy. Up at the top mark it was really close and the bottom of the run we were still close and rounded opposite marks and then I had a better beat.

On the competition. “It’s really tough. There are a lot of older guys here so it’s a real experience. Everyone knows what they are doing and everyone is quick. It’s good fun because no one ever really takes a race off. Everyone is always on their game.”

After a short wait for protest time, the Semi-Final was sailed just off the harbour entrance in a reasonably steady 10-15 knots. Wright broke away out of the start and crossed back ahead of the fleet. However the next shift favoured the right again and Wetherell rounded first from Cornish and Heiner. Cornish took the lead on the downwind and was never headed, while Wright looked out of the race. However he recovered on the second beat and then drew level with Wetherell and Milan Vujasinovic of Croatia. It came down to the last few pumps to the finish line with Wright crossing second by less than a boatlength.

So Cornish and Wright proceeded to the Final. The wind dropped off for a while and it started to look doubtful a race could be started, but then the sequence got underway and the breeze returned to 10-12 knots at the top mark.

Pedersen was forced to tack away out of the start and was never again in contention as a big left-hander came in. The disaster struck Zsombor Berecz of Hungary when his halyard lock broke. He stopped to fix it but trailed at a distance for the rest of the race. Lobert owned the pin end of the line and was clear ahead when he tacked back, extending throughout the race for a big win. Wright was a clear second while Cornish held off Pedersen for third.

It’s interesting to note that the top four sailors all wore the yellow leader’s bib at some point during the week. However, the best sailor on points was Pedersen, and he was beaten by the format and went home empty handed.

Cornish said, “I came here with the intention of trying to win a medal, so that’s obviously a really good result. It’s nice to be going away from the first big event of the season with a bronze.”

He nearly didn’t even make the Finals. In the final fleet race, “I found myself trying to climb back through the fleet and ended up making my way into the Semi-Final. That was a good race for me, and then I progressed on to the Final with Ed. For me the priority switched and it was about winning a medal and so the risk management went down massively.”

On the fleet race Wright said, “There was a lot of pressure on the first race because I was in a position to be in the top three. I didn’t manage to beat the Hungarian in that race so I had to go into the Semi-Final sail-off.”

“The Semi-Final was just a pump off on the last run. On the last downwind I managed to pass Henry, which got me into the Final. That was a really exciting part of the race actually; he was a little bit ahead of me at the top mark.  I managed to try and cover him a little bit on the run and then to have the starboard advantage. Basically in the last 100-200 yards my winter’s fitness training paid off and I was able to really just push the limits on the line and just pip him. It was quite exciting, and quite exhausting.”

In the Final, “Halfway through the race I decided to cover Anders and let Cornish and the French guy get away and do whatever they needed to do, I just needed to be top three.  But I managed to end up with the silver medal luckily. A medal here is really exciting because it’s the first event back, apart from Hyeres which was a warm up event last week. I’m sailing probably better than I have done ever at the moment.  I’m fast upwind and downwind in all conditions and that’s really exciting. The winter has paid off.”

He paid tribute to Pedersen, “He’s had an amazing regatta, he was in the top ten every race, very consistent, sailed very well, and it’s seems such a shame.”

Lobert commented, “This morning I was not sure about sailing the final race, but then when I saw the weather forecast I was very uncertain. Then breeze kicked in and I was very tense and I knew I could lose everything from the work of the week.”

In the final, “I was really looking to have a line where I could keep on going if I wanted because I saw there was pressure coming but I was not sure if it was the right or left, so I want to make sure I could stay and wait the next shift, so that’s why I was really pushing to save the pin end and go on starboard as long I could. Then I got the shift and I was in front.”

“Winning the Europeans means a lot for me because, first, it’s in France, so I am very happy with this, and for once I am winning a championship. I have been many times second or third, so since I am on the top of the box I am very happy and the funny thing is I am in front of two British. So it’s nice as it’s always the British winning, so for once it’s someone else.”

The main conversation point this week has been the running of new format trials tested here this week. It was the second such test, with the first being in Palma earlier this year. It remains controversial and contested. Hopefully, following the survey that will be carried out next week the class will get a clearer insight into the feelings and thoughts of the class as it moves onto future regattas.

Results after Final
1  FRA  112 Jonathan LOBERT
2  GBR   11 Edward WRIGHT
3  GBR   91 Ben CORNISH
4  NOR   1 Anders PEDERSEN
5  HUN   40 Zsombor BERECZ
Results after Semi Final
6  GBR   71 Henry WETHERELL
8  GRE   77 Ioannis MITAKIS
9  TUR   21 Alican KAYNAR
10  NED   89 Nicholas HEINER

Full results here.

Light winds forecast for Finals day in Marseille

A long week in Marseille is drawing to a close with up to three more Finn races on the final day, Saturday 13 May. Because of the new format, around 15 sailors can still go home with the European title.

The final Opening Series Race, scheduled for 10.00 this morning will decide who goes through to the Final and Semi Final.

Jonathan Lobert and Anders Pedersen have already done enough to be fast-tracked through to the Final.

Zsombor Berecz is already qualified for at least the Semi-Final.

The other seven places are still up for grabs. All the other top 10 sailors going into today either have a high score on the board or are very close on points to the cut, so still need a good race.

The third place in the Final will come down to Zsombor Berecz or Ed Wright, so that could turn into a match race.

And then, mathematically everyone down to 20th has a chance to qualify for the Semi-Final, if it all goes wrong for those above them.

But after that points do not make prizes, only finishing positions. The top two over the line in the Semi-Final progress to the Final and the top three across the line in that race get the medals.

The forecast for today, well one of them anyway as it changes here pretty fast, is for a light north-easterly slowing dying away to 4 knots and then veering round to just west of south between mid morning and early afternoon with a maximum strength of 7-8 knots.

The Semi-Final cannot start before 13.00. If there is no warning signal for that by 16.00, it will be abandoned and the top five from the Opening Series will go into the Final. The latest time for the warning signal for the Final is 17.00.

If there is no Semi-Final or Final, the championship will be decided by the standings in the Opening Series.

It’s going to be another very long day in Marseille.

One or both of the final races will be streamed on Facebook live. Follow the Finn Class page for updates or the YCPR page.

Lobert and Pedersen through to Final at Finn Europeans

France’s Jonathan Lobert, the 2012 London bronze medalist, has taken the lead at the top of the Finn European Championship in Marseille, France after a near perfect performance on the fifth day. Anders Pedersen of Norway, remains in second despite his worst day on the water so far, while Hungary’s Zsombor Berecz moves up to third.

Both Lobert and Pedersen have already qualified for the Final on Saturday – the top three from the Opening Series progress straight to the Final. One more place in the Final will be decided in Saturday’s final Opening Series race, while two more will come from the Semi-Final, which will be a race off between the next seven boats in the Opening Series.

Both the Semi-Final and Final are first across the line formats, with all the points across the previous six days wiped out for the final two short races.

Friday was another very tough day in the would-be Olympic venue with four races again sailed in easterly winds varying from 10 to 20 knots, though like Wednesday, only three races were valid, after the third race was abandoned in the closing stages due to a drifting mark.

Deniss Karpak, of Estonia, was the fastest to the top mark in Race 7, leading up the middle but he just let Alican Kaynar slip inside him at the top mark. Max Salminen of Sweden rounded third. There was no change at the gate but several changes at the second top mark. Lobert was up to third at second top mark after a strong left hand side came in, and together with Nicholas Heiner, from the Netherlands, sailed a fast run to pass ahead and they rounded the final mark overlapped. But Lobert had the inside track and won his first race from Henier and Karpak.

Race 8 started in much the same conditions with the wind rapidly building up the course and Oscar was raised at the top for free pumping. Milan Vujanisovic, from Croatia, led round from Krzysztof Stromski of Poland and Oisin Mcclelland or Ireland. Vujanisovic led through the gate but Facundo Olezza of Argentina, was close behind and took the lead on the second upwind. There was a big wind gradient again on the run with much less wind at the bottom of the course, but on the final downwind Berecz came through at the last mark to take the win from Olezza and Max Kohlhoff of Germany.

The final race of the day, Race 9 in the Opening Series, was sailed in two parts in a still increasing wind. The first attempt was led by Lobert and Ed Wright of Great Britain but despite a great race, the Race Committee abandoned it on the final leg because the spreader mark at the top had drifted out of position and they were getting incorrect information fed down the course. The sailors were not happy at all, but the race was restarted soon after and again Lobert was in front, to lead at every mark and take his second (or third) win of the day. Thursday’s star performer, Piotr Kula of Poland crossed second after a great race, with Pedersen third.

Many sailors suffered through the race abandonment, including Wright, Heiner and Peter McCoy of Great Britain who had sailed a great race in third place, only to see it evaporate within sight of the finish line. There were five requests for redress against the Race Committee for the abandoned race, all of which were later dismissed.

Last year’s bronze medalist, Vujasinovic is up to fifth. He said, “We had four races again out of three scheduled so it’s a bit frustrating I suppose for most of the fleet. The wind was again very crazy and from all sides and you had to be very patient and just keep your focus to the end, and that’s what I did.”

“In two races I had a solid result in the top 10 and in the third I think I finished about 20, which was OK considering I was one of the last ones in the first upwind.”

The silver medalist last year was Berecz, now up to third.

“It was another exhausting day. The wind was shifty and it was strong. It was supposed to drop in the afternoon but it went up again, and the last race was the strongest wind we had, so it was exhausting.”

“The first one I finished ninth and the second one I managed to win. I was sailing good lines, but I was lucky as the wind was super shifty.”

Lobert said, “Today was a nice day on the water, nice racing and super shifty, up and down. I am very happy with my day because I managed to win the first race. I had an OK second race and then I was winning the third race and they had to cancel it just before the end. I was very disappointed, because I don’t think there was anything wrong with the mark moving away. But it’s like it is and I was trying to reset and get back in the game for the last race and I was really pushing and was winning it again.”

“My goal was to try to be in the top three before the final day. I think today I was very happy it was breeze on, because I am usually a good sailor in the breeze but now I am able to be fast in every condition. For sure I like those winds when it’s tricky and windy. I like to use the shifts and try to play as much as I can with the wind and today I was in a good mode.”

“Tomorrow will be a little lighter and a bit shiftier – it’s always shifty in Marseille anyway.”

While Lobert and Pedersen do not have to sail the final Opening Series Race, the forecast for Saturday afternoon is not very promising. If there is no Final in the afternoon, then the results from the Opening Series stands. While Lobert and Pedersen cannot drop in the Opening Series they can change places after Race 10 tomorrow. So the permutations are not as simple as they first look. Of the rest only Berecz had guaranteed his place in the Semi-Final or Final. The rest still have some work to do.

The format being used here is a simplification of the format used in Palma last month and has generated a lot of discussion. After this event a survey will be carried out to seek opinion among the sailors and media.

Henry Wetherell of Great Britain still leads the U23 European Championship, though his lead has narrowed to eight points after a late charge from the 2015 champion, Arkadiy Kistanoc, from Russia. Oskari Muhonen of Finland is now in third.

The schedule for Saturday is:

10.00 Final Opening Series Race (Race 10)
Not before 13.30: Semi-Final Race (places 4-10 in Opening Series)
Before 17.00 Final (places 1-3 in Opening Series and 1-2 in Semi-Final)

Results after 9 races
1  FRA  112 Jonathan LOBERT  38
2  NOR   1 Anders PEDERSEN  47
3  HUN   40 Zsombor BERECZ  63
4  GBR   11 Edward WRIGHT  64
5  CRO   69 Milan VUJASINOVIC  81
6  CRO   52 Nenad BUGARIN  86
7  GRE   77 Ioannis MITAKIS  86
8  GBR   91 Ben CORNISH  91
9  TUR   21 Alican KAYNAR  100
10  CRO   1 Josip OLUJIC  102

Full results here

Photos from Day 4

Full gallery here

Photos from Day 3

Full gallery here

Photos from Day 2

Full gallery here

Photos from Day 1

Full gallery here

No racing on Day 4 at Finn Europeans as strong winds batter Marseille

The fourth day at the Finn Europeans was a long day spent on shore waiting in vain for the wind to abate enough to go sailing. The forecast had already prompted the Race Committee to delay the start to 12.00, but midday came and went and still the venue was battered by strong south-easterly winds and rain.

The sailors sheltered in the tent or displayed typical Finn bravado, but by 15.30, with the wind still hovering around 30 knots, racing was abandoned for the day.

However, Friday is promising perfect conditions, with moderate winds and sunshine. Three races are scheduled.

But, to continue the entertainment we have a few videos to show.

British Finn sailors dominate Marseille’s bay of contrasts

Ed Wright, from Great Britain, has retaken the lead at the Finn European Championships in Marseille following another long day on the water after almost four full races were sailed. The ever consistent Norwegian, Anders Pedersen, is up to second while Jonathan Lobert, of France, is up to third.

The Bay of Marseille has been a bay of contrasts so far this week with yet another set of new conditions thrown at the competitors on the third day. The sailors are finding the bay both challenging and at times perplexing. Looking forward to a day of moderate to strong winds, the first two races were sailed in a building south-easterly wind with occasional rain, but the third race was abandoned as the wind died completely. The re-sail was eventually sailed in a light and patchy breeze after the Race Committee moved position.

Race 4 was a re-sail of the race abandoned on Tuesday with the lead changing at every mark. Tom Ramshaw, from Canada, led at the top after a shifty beat under the Point Rouge headland. Lobert had taken the lead by the gate but then Josip Olujic, of Croatia, found a shift on the left to pass everyone on the second beat. However the winner was Wright, who flew downwind to take the win from Lobert and Olujic.

In the increasing wind, Race 5 was a triangle course in slightly more wind with the rain easing as the fleet approached the top mark. Mikolaj Lahn, from Poland, led at the top and down the run, but it was Henry Wetherell, from Great Britain, leading round the next top mark and round the reaches to the finish from Lahn and regatta leader, Ben Cornish, from Great Britain.

Race 6 was where it started going wrong. With Oscar up at the start and a solid 15-18 knots everyone was set for another great race and for once an early finish. However it wasn’t to be with the wind already dropping out at the top mark and R flag up to restrict free pumping. The wind dropped to around 6 knots on the run and there were huge place changes downwind. Wetherall had led at the top and extended round the gate from Milan Vujasinovic, from Croatia and Cornish. Wetherell managed to extend his lead on the next beat as the wind dropped completely for those behind and though he had wind all the way, the race was abandoned when he was 200 metres from the finish line. Most of the fleet was stranded near the windward mark.

After a short wait, the Race Committee moved position and set up a short windward-leeward course further away from the hills to windward. Former European Champion, Ioannis Mitakis of Greece, led round the top mark from the Croatians Vujasinovic and Olujic. It was a short race and Mitakis led through the gate, but Vujasinovic was in the lead at the top and extended downwind for the win, from Olujic, while Wright came through after another blistering downwind for third.

After six races sailed Vujasinovic had broken the British Sailing Team run of five race wins by three different sailors.

The day was won on the water by Pedersen who is piecing together an impressively consistent series with all top eight results.

“It’s been a good week being consistent in all my races. Unfortunately with the new format, if I can keep this up it doesn’t pay off that much. But I am happy with my sailing. I have been improving a lot especially downwind.

“It was shifty, and up and down so hard to get the right puffs. A frustrating day.”

Nicholas Heiner, from the Netherlands had a better day after a tough start to his first Finn major championship.

“I think today was another really tricky day. The race committee put us back underneath the mountain again so every time at the top mark it got really shifty and we had one race where there was no breeze at the top. So basically we sailed four races today, in some really challenging conditions from zero to 20 knots.”

“For myself I just needed to step it up a little bit. Keep my eyes out of the boat and set myself some priorities for today and I think in the end four top ten results, including one abandoned race, so pretty happy with the day.”

Wetherell is now the clear leader in the U23 European Championship after one of the best days on the water. He sits in eighth place overall, 40 points and nine places above Oskari Muhonen, from Finland. Evgenii Deiev, from Russia is in third place overall.

Wetherell commented, “The first two races went quite well with a seventh and a one, and the abandoned race I was winning that as well, but it got abandoned just before the finish, so would have been a great day, but in the fourth race I was in the mid-20s, so it was a good day but it could have been a lot better.”

“In the first two races the wind was quite a steadyish wind given that it was coming off the cliffs, but then gradually through the day the gust to lull got quite a bit bigger and got worse all day, so it was quite tricky.”

It was another long day on the water, but at least the championship is now back on schedule. Super strong winds have been forecast for Thursday, with the first warning signal delayed until 12.00 in the hope that the worst will have passed.

The key for the leading sailors now is to stay in the top 10 so they make the winner takes all finals on Saturday afternoon. A simplified format is being tested here of what was first tried in Palma. The top three boats in the opening series go straight to the five boat Final, while the next seven sail the Semi-Final, with the first two across the line advancing to the Final. It is intended to broadcast both the Semi-Final and Final through Facebook Live.

There are now just four Opening Series races left before the cut is made, with the last race scheduled for Saturday morning, before the Semi-Final and Final on Saturday afternoon.

Results after six races
1  GBR   11 Edward WRIGHT  23
2  NOR   1 Anders PEDERSEN  26
3  FRA  112 Jonathan LOBERT  28
4  GBR   91 Ben CORNISH  29
5  HUN   40 Zsombor BERECZ  38
6  GRE   77 Ioannis MITAKIS  42
7  CRO   69 Milan VUJASINOVIC  49
8  GBR   71 Henry WETHERELL  51
9  AUS  261 Oliver TWEDDELL  55
10  CRO   1 Josip OLUJIC  56

Full results