Spain’s Miguel Fernandez Vasco has extended his lead at the 2022 Open Finn European Masters at Club Nàutic Hospitalet-Vandellòs, at Hospitalet de l’Infant, Spain, after a long day on Thursday with two more races eventually sailed. Laurent Hay from France remains second while Paul McKenzie from Australia remains third.
It was a day defined by changeable winds and a close and intense battle between Fernandez and Hay, resulting in Fernendez taking a two point lead after four races. The race wins went to Italy’s Giacomo Gionvanelli and Fernandez.
The day started early in an offshore breeze, with James Bevis and McKenzie showing the fleet round the course, but on the final beat the wind went all funky and boats were heading in all directions so the race was abandoned and the fleet sent home to await the afternoon sea breeze. This duly arrived and the fleet enjoyed two great races with high temperatures and sunny skies. Both races were started on the black flag after general recalls.
Race 3 was a close fight between Hay, Fernandez and Gionvanelli, with each of them having a turn at leading the race. Gionvanelli led at the first top mark, but then lost the lead downwind only to retake it on the second upwind to win the race.
The next race was led at the top by Finland’s Kristian Sjöberg, however he was one of five boats picking up a black flag. Eventually the race turned into a fight between Fernandez, Hay and Italy’s Matteo Iovenitti. Fernandez secured the lead on the second upwind and held on to take his first win of the championship, while Iovenitti pipped Hay on the line to take second.
Gionvanelli described his race, “I started by the pin end and I immediately went right. I had good wind, so I managed to stay in control of the fleet.
“Thanks to my speed I managed to stay in front of those on the left side with me. I rounded the first mark in first, but I had some trouble going downwind against FRA 75 and ESP 161. On the second upwind I stayed on the right, I was fast and I had a very good comeback. On the final downwind I kept myself on the right of the racing area, and this paid off a lot as I ended up crossing the finishing line in first.”
Iovenitti is in ninth overall. He said, “Today we had a really good wind and it was really shifty, but in the end was good conditions, good waves and really beautiful to sail.
“In the second race I took second place in the end after being near the front all the race. In the beginning I was hoping to finish top five, but now I don’t know. I had some really bad races so well see what happens in the end.
“But this place is an amazing to place with good conditions and the place is really beautiful, but I also enjoy sailing in this fleet with all these really good guys.”
There are a lot of old and new faces at this event, but one of the new, old faces is Tom Dodson from New Zealand. He has recently taken up Finn sailing again, after being the Kiwi rep for the 1980 Olympic Games, where unfortunately he didn’t sail because of the boycott.
He explained, “I liked the idea of a wooden Finn, and spent a winter doing that up but then found out it was too slow. There’s a nice bunch of guys in New Zealand, with close racing, so I thought I’d get into it and I was able to buy one of the Olympic Finns and now I am hooked. I get out and sail it whenever I can and love lining up with the guys.”
“Today was interesting. It was an up day for me in the first race and then I the second race I found out what life’s like in the sewer. I was back there rucking it out, but they are all good competitors and they are all very good yachtsmen and they know these Finns. They sail them downwind amazingly. I have got a lot to learn.”
He has come straight here from sailing on Valsheda in the Maxi Worlds in Porto Cervo and had more regattas to sail afterwards but said the Finn Europeans slotted in with his programme, so he rented a Finn in Spain and turned up.
“It’s a huge contrast. I am still figuring out how to start and get them round the race course. Boat handling is not my strong point at the moment, though I’ve had a few good first beats.
“I think these few days here are going to be valuable for me to work a few little tricks.”
The event is now at the half way stage. Two more races are scheduled for Friday. Racing continues until Saturday.
Results after 4 races
1 ESP 161 Miguel FERNANDEZ VASCO 8
2 FRA 75 Laurent HAY 10
3 AUS 22 Paul MCKENZIE 23
4 FRA 61 David HUET 32
5 ITA 202 Giacomo GIONVANELLI 34
6 SUI 7 Christoph BURGER 40
7 NED 29 Bas DE WAAL 48
8 ESP 7 David TEROL ALBALADEJO 49
9 ITA 1071 Matteo IOVENITTI 51
10 BRA 97 Ricardo SANTOS 56