The 2014 Finn World Masters was officially opened in Sopot, Poland this evening after the handing over of the Championship Trophy and the Finn Class flag to the Commodore of the SKZ Ergo Hestia Sopot, Mr Piotr Hlavaty, with several hundred sailors, friends and guests in attendance. With still one day of registration to go, there are already 217 confirmed entries from 25 countries, with more arrivals expected on Sunday.
The sailors have received a fantastic welcome not only from the volunteers and organisers, but also from the weather. After a day of soaring temperatures, almost unbroken sunshine and a hard day of equipment inspection and practice afloat, the opening ceremony was held at the heart of the club's impressive and expansive facilities beside the blue waters of the beautiful Bay of Gdansk. Guests included Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL), who won the Finn Olympic gold medal in 1996 and the bronze medal in 2004.
The Opening Ceremony began with a welcome by Jan Okulicz (POL), the President of the Polish Finn Class. 'Dear friends. It is fantastic to have you all here. Three years ago in Punta Ala I met Fons van Gent (NED) with Bob Nowakoski (POL), and we had an idea to have to you here in Sopot in 2014. The following year in Pwhelli, the dream came true and now you are here and all the Polish sailors are very happy to see you. I wish you a fantastic time in Poland.'
Then Mr Piotr Hlavaty responded on behalf of the host club, 'Fellow sailors, friends, everyone here is welcome to Sopot Sailing Club. We are proud in our hearts and souls that you came to Poland to race and that we are all together here. Thanks to all our sponsors and partners in hosting this event.'
The Mayor of Sopot, Mr Jacek Karnowski also gave a brief welcome. 'It is my privilege to welcome all of you young sailors to our city and I hope you will have good time here, good weather, and if you have the time we have about 200 pubs, discotheques and other attractions in the city. I hope you will visit our city because it's really very nice place.'
And then finally the President of the Finn World Masters, Andy Denison (GBR) opened the championship with these words. 'It is my pleasure to see you all here. I extend our thanks to the team of helpers who have been wonderful. Without them the event wouldn't exist. This is the first time we have come to Poland for the Finn World Masters. Back in September when I came to visit, I immediately knew this was going to be a good event. On the weather front we have been extremely lucky again. It's obviously our lucky charm.'
Then he invited last year's winner Michael Maier (CZE) to pass the Masters Gold Cup to Mr Piotr Hlavaty, and then with the handing over of the Finn Class flag, he declared the 2014 Finn World Masters officially open.
Registration and measurement continues Sunday morning before the practice race on Sunday afternoon at 14.00. A series of eight races is scheduled from Monday to Friday, ending with a medal race on Friday afternoon. Event website Finn World Masters