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Vaikobi 2024 LEADERBOARD

300 Finns head to idyllic Tuscany beach for World Masters encounter

by Robert Deaves 7 Jun 14:07 PDT 7-14 June 2024
2024 Finn World Masters © Robert Deaves

Three hundred Finn Masters can't be wrong when they all head to the same venue. The 2024 Finn World Masters begins next week at the Puntala Camp & Resort beside the Tyrrhenian Sea, 13 years after it was last held there. It is the last of the events held over from the pandemic cancellations after being originally scheduled to be held in 2021.

Back in 2011 it was the largest Finn World Masters up to that time at 283 entries. That number was dwarfed several years later and while there are no records being set this year, but with 310 entries from 30 nations it is the largest Finn event post-pandemic, also in fact since 2018, which is an encouraging trend given the turmoil in the world and the world Finn sailing over the past six years. The Finn Class is very much back on track.

With a fleet this large, talk of the favourites tends to become a long list of sailors. There are Olympic medalists, past world and European champions, several former Masters winners and several hundred wannabes who could easily win races. Consistency is going to be the key element, with the huge fleet racing in four random groups each day. The unique masters format includes eight races with the groups decided by bespoke random selection software each and every day, while also ensuring that there can be no ties at end of the week. Ultimately the points fall there they fall with no final series.

World no 1, Laurent Hay, from France, is still looking for his first major title, and though he has come close many times, and won his age category, lifting the Masters Gold Cup is a key goal. Last year he was denied by Filipe Silva, and the lack of a discard caused by very light winds. Two years ago, he was also second, this time to former Olympian Pieter-Jan Postma's. Three years ago, fellow French Valerian Lebrun dominated to take the title. Lebrun is back this year and for sure is again a favourite if the breeze materialises.

Also taking part is the 1996 Olympic silver medalist Sebastien Godefroid, 1988 world champion Thomas Schmid, and probably most interestingly, Britain's multiple world and national champion in many other classes, Nick Craig, who has been gradually getting more Finn time on the water and could be a serious threat if things go his way.

The Finn Masters do favour spectacular venues and this year is no exception. A pine forest alongside a long sandy beach, with the majority of the fleet staying in cabins or mobile homes under the shady trees. It is as hot on land as the competition will be on the water. The social and community part of the class is a vital ingredient of the Finn Masters events. It is a festival of all Finn shaped things.

Within the huge fleet there are also age specific categories, with the Grand Masters, Great Grand Masters, Legends and Super Legends. There are six Super Legends taking part, all over 80 years old, an aspiration for everyone else here.

Boats have been arriving in numbers for several days and the beach is filling up. Equipment inspection and registration run from Friday to Sunday. Racing runs from Monday to Friday with a practice race scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

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