Oskari Muhonen takes narrow lead as U23 Finn Worlds opens in Canet

Defending U23 World Champion, Oskari Muhonen, from Finland, leads the fleet after three races on the opening day of the 2020 Finn Silver Cup in Canet en Roussillon, in France. Nicolas Thierse, from Germany is second with Guillaume Boisard, from France in third.

The opening day brought light winds and some very tight racing among the small fleet who made it to the south of France amid tightening travel restrictions from many countries.

Race 1 started after a wind delay in 5-6 knots. Many wanted to go right but in the end it was the left that paid. Thierse had a very good start and sailed up the middle and was first round the top. Muhonen rounded second with Taavi Valter Taveter, from Estonia, in third. Not much changed downwind, but on the second upwind everyone went left except Boisard who was in ninth and hit the right, got huge leverage and came back just behind Thierse at the finish. Muhonen crossed third.

Thierse also got a great start in Race 2 to lead round the top from the middle of the course from Domonkos Nemeth, from Hungary and Muhonen. On the downwind Taveter played the left and took the lead, but Thierse retook the lead on the second lap to win his second race from Muhonen and Taveter.

Muhonen finally found the front in the third and final race of the day with the wind up to 7-8 knots. He took advantage of a big port end bias, tacked to port and crossed the fleet. Boisard also got a good start with a tack in the middle of the line. The right side paid with stronger breeze, and at the top it was Muhonen, Taveter and Nemeth. Not much changed until the final downwind, when Boisard moved up to second behind Muhonen and Taveter.

After a great first day of Finn racing, Kevin Maurin, from the home club, said, “It was pretty easy to sail on home waters. I was comfortable in the fleet and could follow my own strategy in the first two races and the third was pretty good as well.”

Maurin normally sails a Laser Radial and put in a good showing in his first ever Finn regatta. “ I had had the opportunity to sail the Silver Cup and they found a boat for me, so I have trained 5-6 times with Paul McKenzie and other club boats, always in these sort of conditions so I am pretty well prepared.”

How has he managed during lockdown. “At the start there was no training but just videos coming from my Laser coach, theory of strategy and tactics, and as soon as lockdown was over there were certain conditions for sailing and I could sail on Wednesdays and Saturday, so just started training again two days a week.”

Muhonen described the day, “Today was pretty shifty and tricky conditions with lots of pressure differences, and light winds. I didn’t have a great day but I am in first going into tomorrow.”

On training this year he said, “The training during the summer has been a bit difficult and harder than usual, so I have been training just in Finland and France, and in Sweden as well. Here we had a few days of training before the regatta. We came straight from Sweden, training with Max Salminen. The Spring was harder but the situation was pretty good in Finland as we didn’t have full lockdown and we could go sailing.”

A twice winner of the title, he is the favourite to take a third title but knows it won’t be easy. “Obviously it would be nice to get a third title, so I am doing everything I can to make that happen.”

After three races, Muhonen leads the fleet from Thiase, who recovered to fifth in the final race, with Boisard in third.

Overall the conditions were ideal for the fleet and made it tough for the top guys as they didn’t have much advantage in the light winds. It was always light hiking sitting on the side conditions. And the really lightweight guys like local sailor, Kevin Maurin, and Thierse had the same speed as the top guys. It was a great first day and pretty close considering the big differences between the experience of the sailors.

Racing continues until Friday with a series of 12 races scheduled.

Results after 3 races
1            FIN 8            Oskari Muhonen            6
2            GER  723            Nicolas Thierse            7
3            FRA  9            Guillaume Boisard                         8
4            EST 1            Taavi Valter Taveter            13
5            HUN 80            Domonkos Nemeth            15
6            FRA 11            Kevin Maurin            17
7            FRA 85            Aubert Lerouge            21
8            FRA 98             Thomas Piotrowski            22
9            ESP 888            Andres Ivan Lloret Perez     27
10            FRA 1            Lucas Descriaud            29

– Robert Deaves

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