It had been a tough week at Black Rock Yacht Club, Victoria, for the Australian Finn Championships.
Solid sea breezes for most of the races challenged the physical preparation of the 40 sailors who took part. Many sailors were visibly tired, with sore legs, heading out for the final day, which looked like being the toughest of the week.
It was a great demonstration from Olympic champion Giles Scott (UK) as he revelled in the fantastic wind and waves on Port Phillip for two clear wins to make it six bullets, which is impressive considering the high quality of the fleet. Netherlands Nick Heiner knew it would be tough to topple Scott, so focussed on securing the silver. Meanwhile Wright (UK) and Australian Lilley went into the day tied on points. Everything was set for a final day of tough and absorbing racing.
The final two races were scheduled to start at the earlier time of 12.00 and on the water, the southerly change had blown through in the early morning to bring in a solid 15 knot breeze and a 5 minute sail to the start line. The forecast predicted a 15 to 20 knot southerly with a sea breeze coming over the top and building later in the day.
Race 9 of the series got away on time under ‘U’ flag with two boats UFD, Rockal Evans, from Bermuda and Phil Chadwick, from Australia, who was leading the Grand Masters. The first mark was a British procession and by the bottom first time round it was Scott with a clear lead, clearly enjoying the fabulous conditions. The breeze filled in further on the second lap to a solid 20 knots by the finish. Scott took the win from Pieter-Jan Postma, from The Netherlands, and Lilley. Wright was back in seventh after breaking his vang lever and sailed in for a boom change for the second race. It was all down to the final race for silver and bronze.
The final race was held in the same solid breeze from the south, with a high degree of attrition through the fleet. In the end only 25 boats finished. At the top of the second run, Scott and Wright had a big lead on the fleet with Henry Wetherell clearly in third, to finish in that order for a British one, two, three. Postma capsized at the end of the first run, while Chadwick picked up another UFD. Alex Kokumai from Japan, suffered another broken vang and was towed in.
The spoils were shared between the Australian and British sailors. While Lilley won the Australian title from Oliver Tweddell, Wetherell took the U23 prize and Wright was first Master. After an over-enthusiastic double UFD from Chadwick today, John Condie won the Grand Masters by a single point, while Peter Wallace was first Grand Grand Master. For the Legends, Dirk Seret covered Neville Wild to stay in front, with last years winner Bob Buchanan, third.
Lilley was delighted to retain his national title.
“It was a great week of sailing at Black Rock, classic Finn conditions and a very physical week. Sore legs for all concerned.”
“Very happy to finish off in third and another national title but incredibly grateful to all the other countries for coming out and sharing our country and some fantastic racing.”
Heiner was pleased with his period of training in Australia.
“A great week’s sailing in Black Rock. Amazing conditions. You can’t ask for much better sailing. I think especially with all the internationals here there was great depth in the fleet, especially when the Kiwis were still here.”
On his own performance, “Every day I was pretty equal to Giles. We had some great battles and unfortunately I made a bit of an error yesterday with a UFD, so going into today I knew it was going to be quite tricky to gain those seven points on him, especially in the conditions we had today. I was just making sure I didn’t do anything crazy and secured the second place, but it got pretty hard once PJ started match racing me, which made trying to win the regatta quite hard.”
“In the end I am happy as one of the smaller and lighter guys in the fleet to come away with a silver medal, and quite solid as well, in a breezy week shows that we are on the right track. We are doing our homework and getting better and better, and it gives a lot of confidence.”
“It shows we can win races and be up on the podium in the big breeze regattas, so enough to work on but pretty happy with my Australian trip.”
Black Rock Yacht Club Commodore, Gary Lokum, commented, “It has been a fabulous two weeks of racing at Black Rock, with first the OK Dinghy nationals and then the Finn nationals. We have been blessed with fantastic conditions and have run all the racing to schedule, which is amazing. It really is ‘normally like this here’ and we hope all the competitors, especially the international sailors, enjoyed our club and our special waters.”
Final results(10 races)
1 GBR41 Giles Scott 14
2 NED89 Nicholas Heiner 28
3 AUS1 Jakos Lilley 42
4 GBR11 Ed Wright 43
5 GBR71 Henry Wetherell 49
6 NED842 PieterJan Postma 52
7 AUS261 Oliver Twedell 52
8 CHN1 He Chen 89
9 AUS32 Jock Calvert 93
10 AUS41 Lewis Brake 94