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Ancient Athens sets scene for spectacular Finn Europeans opening

by Robert Deaves 12 May 18:06 PDT 13-18 May 2019

The 2019 Finn Open European Championship has begun to a spectacular opening ceremony, incredible hospitality and fantastic conditions for the practice race on Sunday afternoon, which heralds the start of one of the most important regattas of the year for the Finn class.

With four places to be won for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the competition has many facets. Those who have already qualified for Tokyo will be more interested in laying down markers, and aiming for the European title.

Measurement and registration began on Friday with the opening ceremony on Saturday evening, attended by Ambassadors from most of the competing nations, along with government ministers and NOC members. It was an emotional and very vocal statement about the Finn and all that Finn sailing represents to the world of sailing and to the world of sport, with vivid images, striking video and incredible live music.

The audience was astounded by the artistry, the content and the poignant message that the performance contained. The evening was completed with local children as flag bearers, Olympic medalists on stage and a closing rendition of 'Sailing'.

This event marks second time that the Hellenic Sailing Federation has stepped in to host a Finn championship at short notice, after the withdrawal of the original host in January due to damage. In 1998, Greece also organised the Finn Gold Cup at short notice, and for this, the Finn class has been extremely grateful. However the level of detail and hospitality afforded the Finn fleet so far has been beyond measure. The welcome has been nothing short of awesome.

On Sunday the practice race was held with around 25 boats on the water. Many have been training in Athens for weeks or months, so preparation for many has long been complete.

The leader of the race at the gate, before the fleet as usual split away and sailed home, was Jorge Zarif. He is one of those still trying to qualify for Tokyo.

"I didn't have a good race in Aarhus so I couldn't make one of the spots there so I hope here I have a good race."

"We are almost 90 boats. All the top guys are here. It might be harder to win it like this than the Olympic games but it will be a good event.

I have been here for 10 days so not much practice here at all. Sailing is a sailing sport, sometimes you train a lot and a person who doesn't do so much has a better race. I saw that in Rio in the Olympics."

For this week we are expecting good weather, sunny, sea breeze 10-14 knots, so pretty good wind, perfect conditions for sailing, for Finn sailing, for downwind sailing so it will be great."

Racing is scheduled to begin on Monday at 12.00.

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