The 2017 U23 Finn World Champion, Oskari Muhonen, from Finland, has taken the lead at the 2019 U23 Finn World Championship for the Jorg Bruder Finn Silver Cup in Anzio, Italy, after wining both races sailed late on Thursday in a very difficult breeze. Joan Cardona, from Spain is down one place in second while Federico Colaninno, from Italy, is up to third.
There is always one day in a regatta that changes the landscape and in Anzio it was Thursday. Numerous high profile black flags combined with both good and bad performances from various players has set the scene for an exciting final three races to decide the 2019 U23 and U19 champions.
The start was delayed more than three hours waiting for the thermals to arrive, but when it did build enough for racing, it never increased past 8-10 knots with some large shifts across the race course. It was a day for nerves and courage.
In Race 7, Liam Orel, from Slovenia, still an U19, stormed out of the start and nailed the first few shifts perfectly to hold a good lead at the top from Cardona and Guillaume Boisard, of France. Orel lead through the gate but on the second beat had Cardona on one side and Muhonen on the other. Muhonen came through to lead downwind, but Cardona was close enough to challenge and an overlap at the final gate was enough to steel second place with Orel in third.
Race 8 took three attempts to start, finally under black flag with seven boats pulled out including Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland, who won, and Lachy Gilham, from Australia in second. This left Muhonen, who crossed in third, as the race winner from Colaninno and Boisard.
With DSQ already on the board, Cardona could not afford any mistakes, but he trailed mid fleet or worse at times, and finally finished tenth, thanks to a number of sailors ahead of him pulled out as early starters. He now trails Muhonen by eight points but is 10 ahead of Colaninno. There is still a long way to go.
After Muhonen, Orel sailed the best of the day, also benefitting from black flags to pick up and third and a fifth to move up to seventh overall and with a 47-point lead in the U19 division.
He said of his day, “Today was very nice for me and the conditions suited my weight. In the first race I leading until about half way, but was facing some difficulty with shifts and gusts, but in the end I finished third, which is very nice because I am mostly competing for the U19 competition so going at it with the big guys is nice for me.”
“In the second race it was not the best at the start but slowly I managed to pick some places and in the end with the black flags, I finished fifth, which was also pretty good for me.”
“Until now it is my best day. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit better but if it’s like today then it was just perfect. In my home town we usually have the thermic wind, normally a bit less than here, but it is similar and also for me it better if it is not so windy because I am not heavy enough yet, and if there is more wind and more waves I am losing speed, so with these light conditions it suits me well.”
He explains he almost gave up, but was attracted back to the class for the racing and the people. “Last year the plan was to go with Laser because I realised that it will be hard in the Finn. I dropped some weight, went to Laser, but I didn’t like it because it is much smaller, and I think not as manly as the Finn. I came back to Finn because it’s a nice boat and also the competitors are more mature. Everything is more professional.”
“I am going to train hard for Genoa next year [for the final continental qualifier for Tokyo] will try my best and give it everything and see what happens.
He knows it won’t be easy, but added, “If you try you can do it, but if you don’t try then it’s not likely that you are going to get it.”
Gilham is having a tough week, made worse by the black flag, but was upbeat about his sailing and taking the knocks in his stride.
“Today was about light winds and being consistent. Very shifty and quite sloppy, so it was all about getting off the line clean and racing clear. For myself it was mixed bag. I was 22nd in the first race, which wasn’t too good, but in the second race it was a really nice race, but I got black-flagged. But it’s good proof that I can actually piece a good race together even though I had a shocking day.”
“With the recent decision [to drop the Finn from the Olympics] I have been pretty gutted because when I heard the decision I had just bought a brand new Finn and was driving across Australia. I was in the middle of nowhere when I heard it and I was talking to my father and it was like ‘What do I do now?” There was nothing for me, but I just said to myself, let’s keep pushing hard towards Tokyo and see what I can do and learn from the new cycle and wish for the best.”
“I would love it to come back because it is the only class that I have. I really wish I could kick it on for 2024.”
“I believe that for everyone here when we talk about it, that we’re all pretty down and upset because there is nothing for us left without the Finn and I hope we can get the Finn back in as that means I can probably have another six years in the class and can really get some solid results.”
Racing in Anzio continues Friday with two more races scheduled. Just three more races are scheduled to complete the championship, which concludes on Saturday.
Results after eight races
1 FIN 8 Oskari Muhonen 15
2 ESP 26 Joan Cardona 23
3 ITA 71 Federico Colaninno 33
4 SUI 1 Nils Theuninck 39
5 GBR 81 James Skulczuk 53
6 SWE 11 Johannes Pettersson 58
7 SLO 11 Liam Orel 61
8 EST 1 Taavi Valter Taveter 71
9 FRA 9 Guillame Boisard 76
10 CYP 1 Panagiotis Iordanou 76
7 SLO 11 Liam Orel 61
15 ITA 115 Paolo Freddi 108
16 GBR 38 Callum Dixon 109
Full results here: http://2019.finnsilvercup.org/results-day-3/
– Robert Deaves