Finn UK Nationals Championships day two, held at Christchurch Sailing Club, brought race wins for Allen Burrell and Laurent Hay.
On a day of challenging wind and tide conditions, which many of the favourites got wrong at some stage, Hay continues to lead from Burrell, but now the lead is down to one point, with Rob McMillan six points further back.
With promises of stronger wind the fleet gathered at the club more in trepidation than in anticipation as earlier 35 knots squalls had come through the harbour. However by launch time the wind was down to a manageable 12-13 knots and never really increased above 16 knots all day, even dying away to almost nothing on several occasions, turning the fleet inside out.
In race three, Allen Burrell rounded the first mark ahead of Marc Alain des Beauvais (FRA) and Rob McMillan (AUS). Burrell maintained his lead throughout the whole race after some great free pumping planning reaches as the wind peaked for the day at about 15-16 knots. McMillan worked his way through to second, while junior James Hadden sailed a great race to move up to fourth at the finish.
In race four most of the favourites went left, but the wind died and left them wallowing while the right came in with pressure on a nice shift. Graeme McDonald led round the top mark from Laurent Hay(FRA), Burrell and Hadden. The wind had almost gone at this point and the free pumping was removed at the wing mark, only for the wind to pick up again. Hay led at the wing mark, but Burrell picked him off on the next beat to take a second race win of the day on the shortened final lap, while Hay placed second and Hadden picked up another third.
Hay found the front for the final race of the day and never let it go, despite the first reach being a fetch with a misplaced wing mark. The light wind picked up again for the final beat with Neil Robinson sailing a great last leg to move up to second from junior sailor, Harry Briddon, who placed third. Burrell maintained his challenge for the championship with another solid fourth place to move to within one point of Hay with just two races remaining on Sunday.
Burrell commented, 'It's been good so far. It's been a bit shifty and was a bit light yesterday, but it was nice to have some breeze today. I think we all enjoyed today – especially thefree pumping downwind legs. That was great fun.'
'I am really impressed with the competition here this weekend. It's a very strong fleet, especially with a number of overseas sailors joining us. I think the standard is really high and it's certainly a very competitive fleet.'
With the weekend counting towards the JM Finn Gold Cup Qualifier Series to select the British team for the 2012 Finn Gold Cup, which is being held in Falmouth, UK, the competition is further enhanced as available places will be limited.
On Sunday the final two races for the JM Finn, Finn UK National Championship will decide who will become the JM Finn, Finn National Champion 2011. Burrell is in a great position to take his first Finn title, but there are a lot of others ready to takes the spoils if the opportunity presents itself.
Tonight at the club, the sailors enjoyed the championship dinner courtesy of the major sponsor JM Finn, with Olympic Finn champion Ben Ainslie in attendance, and are also celebrating the Finn being reselected for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Andy Denison, Ben-Ainslie, and Allen Burrell - JM Finn, Finn UK National Championships 2011 - © Mike Rice, www.fotoboat.com
Among the festivities was a draw for a brand new North Sail, which was won by Allen Burrell. Pictured here is the British Finn Association Chairman, Andy Denison, presenting Burrell with the sail, accompanied by Ben Ainslie. Results after five races (one drop)
1 FRA75 Hay Laurent 9
2 GBR 20 Allen Burrell 10
3 AUS2 Rob McMillan 16
4 GBR 65 David Potter 22
5 GBR 679 Neil Robinson 24
6 FRA99 Marc Allain des Beauvais 30
7 GBR 7 George Cooper 31
8 GBR 635 Simon Percival 34
9 GBR 567 Martin Hughes 37
10 GBR 68 John Mackie 43
Finn UK Nationals: Website