Under the watchful eye of the the Gaeta Town Hall Clock Tower the 2016 Finn Gold Cup was opened Friday evening in the warm Italian sunshine. The sailors marched behind flag bearers from the Gaeta Yacht Club along the coast road to the Bravo Charlie Arena where the opening ceremony took place.
Around 70 sailors received their bow numbers and enjoyed a fabulous champagne buffet after a series of speeches from town and club dignitaries. The defending champion, Giles Scott (GBR) also presented the Finn Gold Cup to the club for safe keeping until a new champion can be declared next Friday.
There were speeches from the Chairman of the Organising Authority, Mr Luca Simeone, the Vice-President of the International Finn Association, Mr Björn Allansson, the President of CONI Lazio, Mr Riccardo Viola and the Major of Gaeta, Mr Cosimino Mitrano.
For Allansson, being part of the opening ceremony of the 60th Finn Gold Cup was a particularly poignant moment, as the Finn was designed by a Swedish designer and sailor.
“As a Swede I am particularly proud of that. The Finn is a Swedish construction from Uppsala by Rickard Sarby and having one other Swede from Uppsala [where the Finn originated from and where it was first sailed] here is extra fun for us. It's his first world championship so I hope he's going to do well. We are looking forward to a splendid week in Gaeta. There seems to be a lot of sunshine, good weather and hopefully also really nice wind conditions.”
The sailors have not only been enjoying the hospitality of the town and the club, but also marvelling at the incredible backdrop to the racing “What first struck me when we came here was the scenery. When you are sailing out there it is just marvellous. Looking back into the old parts of the city, it's really nice, and together with the sunshine and the warm water, I think we are all going to have a blast being here.”
Earlier in the week Deniss Karpak (EST), Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) and Luca Simeone visited a Gaeta school to talk about the sailing, the Finn Gold Cup, and following your passion in life.
Postma said to them, “In life, in sailing, you should always try to find your biggest passion. If you find it then it's your responsibility to put your energy into your passion.”
Karpak said, “They have some passions, and for most of them it's football, but we talked about sailing so maybe a few of them will switch after that.”
The children were clearly inspired by the visit of two Olympic sailors. Postma added, “It was really nice to meet all the kids, to see what their passion is. We are always going from one place to another, but it's also good to connect.”
The practice race at the 60th Finn Gold Cup is scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Racing begins Sunday 8 May with a 10 race opening series before the final race and medal race on Friday 13 May.
Event website: 2016.finngoldcup.org
– Robert Deaves