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NZ Finns: World champion returns to where it all began

by NZ Finn class/S-W NZ 7 Mar 2020 03:43 PST 7 March 2020
Race start - NZ Finn Nationals - February 6-8, 2020 - Worser Bay, Wellington © NZ Finn Class

Hosted by the recently re-built Worser Bay Boating Club from February 6-8 the 2020 Finn National Championships fleet were treated to a masterclass by the reigning world champion and Gold Cup winner, Josh Junior.

Freed from Emirates Team New Zealand duties, Junior returned to the Worser Bay Boating Club where his sailing career began. He was on groomsman duties for the first day of the regatta but sailed in the final three races of the regatta.

The regatta attracted 12 entries from both the North and South Islands and was held in conjunction with the OK Dinghy National contest.

Defending champion Karl Purdie won the regatta, sailing fast and consistently throughout the weekend.

Day 1 was sailed in hot, sunny conditions and a 15-22knt northerly.

Racing was typically tight at each top mark with positions 1-6 rounding within 20 seconds of each other. Local lad Karl Purdie showed pace on the final run of each race, pushing to the front of the fleet and coming off the water with straight bullets.

Each race winner was primarily determined downwind.

Karl Purdie came from behind in every race on this leg of the course to take three narrow victories over the tall timber of Ray Hall and Mark Perrow.

Gary Lokum having only recently returned to Wellington from Black Rock YC in Melbourne was making his presence felt within the NZ fleet with some excellent sailing mixing it with the experienced Denis Mowbray, Chris Wells and Brendon Hogg for positions 4-7.

Wells sailed excellently in Race 3 reading the very tricky wind shifts to perfection to lead for much of this race before being overtaken on the final upwind leg.

Newcomer Paul Bamford also put in a great effort having recently returned to dinghy sailing after many years absence to be amongst sailors having considerably more experience.

Josh Junior joined the fleet on Day 2 and impressed with some very athletic technique and accurate low-risk strategies. Races 4 and 5 were sailed in a southerly of 10-15 knots dropping to 8-10 knots as the day wore on.

Junior dominated the first race of the day, pulling out to a massive lead by the finish. Minor placings behind taken by Ray Hall (2nd), Purdie (3rd) and Hoogenboom (4th).

Race 5 again saw Josh Junior taking the win from Purdie and then Hall, proving his superior speed downwind with the free pumping flag up, upwind all top boats showing near-identical speed.

The Oscar flag was lowered for Race 6, and there was a change in proceedings as newcomer Paul Bamford emerged at the first top mark from the right with a clear lead. Josh Junior had been bounced repeatedly out to the left course side after missing the first shift off the start line, rounding in sixth.

The world champ picked is way back through the fleet to slide into first position at the final mark rounding. Paul Bamford clung on to his 3rd place to the finish, further heralding his arrival to the fleet.

The end of racing saw the fleet return to the club for a BBQ, post-race debriefing over refreshments and a catch up with Josh Junior. The Finn Gold Cup was proudly on display being admired by all at its rightful New Zealand home.

After many, many decades of intense effort, a kiwi sailor has finally lifted one of the most elusive, most hard-earned and most prestigious of all international sailing trophies. It wasn't lost on us that Josh Junior had managed to win an America's Cup before winning this.

The final day of racing was blown out with a steady 40 knots throughout the day. With a southerly change forecast for midday and heralded by the famed southern arch it was hoped there would be a temporary respite to allow racing before the 3pm cut off.

Unfortunately by 1 pm, the big breeze was still present with 40knot gusts from the south being recorded across Cook Strait. The decision was made to abandon racing early - allowing sailors time to pack up and get on their way home.

Karl Purdie had done enough over the whole series to retain his overall championship and grandmaster titles of the previous season.

The Finn class is always on the hunt for new and old recruits, those interested in joining the class should make contact with their local class representatives through Yachting New Zealand.

The class would like to thank Worser Bay Boating Club for their excellent hospitality, race management and world-class facilities over the course of the regatta.

A special thanks also to Brett Linton regatta PRO for doing an outstanding job in communicating with the sailors, laying excellent courses and getting racing away on time with no hiccups.

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