The 2016 Finn Senior and Junior Open European Championship was opened Saturday night in a cozy ceremony on the balcony of the Barcelona International Sailing Centre overlooking the blue waters of what will become this week's race course. On Sunday the sailors completed last minute preparations and measurement before the practice race in what could well be the best wind of the week.
The weather so far has been good for the sailors with challenging, offshore moderate to strong winds and blue skies. However some forecasts for the coming week show a different kind of challenge with light winds moving in. The practice race was held in near perfect conditions with the impressive sailing centre structure as a backdrop. Max Kohlhoff (GER) led round the top mark in an onshore and cold 10-12 knots but as usual the fleet only did the first lap before heading in. Josh Junior (NZL) showed some good downwind speed to lead the fleet back to the club.
At the close of the day 90 sailors, including 21 Juniors, had registered to compete in what will be one of the most intense weeks racing of the year. Many nations are using the week as part of their Olympic trials process and many also also using it as a final warm up to the last Olympic qualifier in Palma at the end of the month.
The championship is being organised by “Federació Catalana de Vela (FCV), Unió de Federacions Esportives de Catalunya (UFEC), Reial Club Marítim de Barcelona and Reial Club Nàutic de Barcelona, supported by the City Hall of Barcelona and Generalitat de Catalunya.
At the Opening Ceremony, the dignitaries present included Mr. Xavier Torres (President of the Catalan Sailing Federation), Mr. Oriol Marcé (Subdirector of Sports Activities of the Generalitat de Catalunya), Mr. Jordi Sans (General Director of UFEC), Ms. Sònia Güell (Vice-President of the Real Club Marítimo de Barcelona) and Mr. Aleix Ballester, Race Director for the Finn Europeans. The fleet was especially pleased to see Jose Maria Van Der Ploeg, who won Olympic gold in these waters back in 1992.
Racing begins Monday with ten races scheduled until next Saturday when the final race and the medal race will be sailed. The first race Monday is scheduled to start at 12.00.
– Robert Deaves