The 2023 Finn World Masters was finally opened Monday evening on the idyllic beach at Nea Itaklitsa, near Kavala, in Greece and against the backdrop of the beautiful Gulf of Kavala.
Earlier in the day the opening race was held. The fleet was held ashore until just after midday and while there was a good breeze on shore, it was still building on the race area. There has been very little raceable wind for the past few days, but against all the odds, a southerly filled in at a quite stable 5-7 knots and Race 1 got away first time.
The leaders came from the left with World No.1 Laurent Hay from France rounding ahead of Portugal’s Filipe Silva and Spain’s David Terol. Not much changed downwind but on the second beat, Britain’s Nick Craig moved up to third and was right behind Silva at the top. Hay then extended for a comfortable win from Silva and Craig.
A second race was attempted but was abandoned halfway up the first beat and the fleet was towed home
After being cancelled Sunday evening because of a storm, the Opening Ceremony finally went ahead on Monday evening.
In 2015, the Finn World Masters was successfully hosted by the Nautical Club of Kavala. Eight years later, in 2023, this prestigious sailing event has returned to the region and is being hosted by the Kavala Sailing Club Paggeon Municipality.
The event this year, and in 2015, has largely been the vision of one man, Vasilis Pigadas, a former winner of the Godet Trophy, which recognises exceptional contribution to the Finn Masters. He has been tireless in piecing the event together and has engaged with much of the local community to support the event.
Vasilis said to the assembled sailors,
“We are more than certain that this event will meet the expectations of all the participants. We do make every effort to achieve this goal and …let’s hope the weather does the same.
“I am very happy to see old friends and new ones from all over the world. You are all living proof that the love of the sea and sailing acts as a strong cohesive bond between people. Most of the participants have known each other for a long time and they have built lifelong relationships. The sailors of Finn World Masters have an intense sense of belonging to a community that is also open to anyone who loves the sea and sailing.
“In addition, the sailors of Finn World Masters break age stereotypes about sports. Sailing is a sport without age limits. Everyone can be an active member of the sailing community even if they start sailing …. a bit late. And this is the most valuable message to all: sailing is the most inclusive sport, and everyone can enjoy sailing and share a liberating and unforgettable experience.
“That’s why it is very important for us to organize this event. We see it as an open call to the local community to take up sailing. And we are deeply grateful to our sponsors from the public and private sector.”
He thanked the many sponsors as well as the Regional Unit of Kavala, the Deputy Governor, Mr Alexis Politis, the Municipality of Pangaio, the Mayor of Pangaio, Mr Anastasiadis Filippos, the Deputy Mayor of the Free Municipal Unit, Mr Christos Prionidis, the President of the Municipal Council, Mr Christos Bosbotis and the Kavala Chamber of Commerce and its president Marco Demba.
In his response, Finn Masters President, Andy Denison, said,
“The Masters brings together seasoned sailors, each one of you a testament to the dedication, perseverance, and unwavering love for the sport and for the Finn.
“The World Masters gives you the opportunity catch up with old friends and the opportunity to forge new friendships, exchange stories and create memories to last forever.
“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the sailing club of Kavala, Vasilis, Stavros [Manitsas], the council and municipality for hosting this event and for again extending to us such a warm welcome.”
Before the opening ceremony proceeded Vasilis was called to the stage to take hold of the Godet Trophy, which he had been awarded with after the last event here but had never held. He was asked to present the trophy to this year’s winner, someone who has been supporting the Finn World Masters since 2005 and has put in a huge amount of largely unrecognised work each year. As an International Judge, Chris Watts has been a fixture of the event for nearly 20 years as well as Chairman of the Jury during most of these years and has made an outstanding contribution to the event.
After that Andy Denison, invited a representative of The Netherlands to present to Finn World Masters cup to the club for safekeeping during the week. Peter Vollebregt, who won it in 1993, kindly presented the trophy on behalf of the previous winner Pieter-Jan Postma.
The championship was then officially opened with the handing over of the Finn Masters flag, which was hoisted on the event flagpole.
The sailors then enjoyed a buffet and drinks at the Barbarella Bar on the beach.
Racing is scheduled to continue until Friday.
Results after one race:
1 FRA 75 Laurent HAŸ 1
2 POR 21 Filipe SILVA 2
3 GBR 18 Nick CRAIG 3
4 ITA 202 Giacomo GIOVANELLI 4
5 GER 193 Thomas SCHMID 5
6 ITA 2 Marco BUGLIELLI 6
7 ESP 7 David TEROL 7
8 GBR 635 Simon PERCIVAL 8
9 NED 148 Peter PEET 9
10 CZE 2 Zdeněk GEBHART 10
Full results here: https://www.manage2sail.com/en-US/event/FWM2023#!/results?classId=FWM23
Full gallery here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/finnclassphotos/albums/72177720308655640