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Finn World Masters at PuntAla, Tuscany, Italy - Overall

by Robert Deaves 15 Jun 00:29 PDT 7-14 June 2024

Laurent Hay, from France, the World No.1 has won the 2024 Finn World Masters at the PuntAla Camp & Resort, Italy. It his first ever major championship in the class after three times coming second and three times third.

France's Valerian Lebrun was second with Martijn van Muyden from The Netherlands in third. In the end the world title came down to a brilliant split-second decision from Hay, 50 metres from the finish line, to overtake two boats and cross in second place, with his bow less than 1 metre from disappointment.

It was an exciting final day, and a challenging day for the race teams and the sailors. After an exceptional week on and off the water, the wind on Friday took a long time to stabilise, and with a 15.00 cutoff, it was run down to the wire. The final race was only started at the last possible minute before the time limit expired.

Yellow and Blue groups on the North course were able to start first and were almost finished by the time the Red group was started on South course. Giocomo Giovanelli won the Yellow group and Roberto Strappati won the Blue group, but title challenger van Muyden could only manage a sixth place. So the title came down to Lebrun and Hay.

To win, Valerian Lebrun needed to win the race and he did just that in the Red group, leading from the first reach for a comfortable win. Behind him in the Green group, regatta leader Laurent Hay needed to finish top two to secure the title. However, it didn't go to plan and he struggled to find the front, sometimes as deep as 12th. The race was won by Antal Szekely, but on the final downwind Hay went wide, passed eight boats and then rounded the final gate mark fourth, behind Szekely and two Dutch boats.

The Dutch boats fought for second place and just metres from the finish, one took the other high, which gave Hay the opportunity he needed. He immediately dived low, caught a wave and all three boats crossed the line in seconds. Hay thought he had crossed third, but he had actually done enough and crossed in second. He had won the Finn World Masters by less than a second and less than a metre at the finish.

Hay had finally done it; after 14 years he had lifted a major Finn title.

Van Muyden commented. "I feel pretty good, even if I am a bit disappointed about today. we got nice racing, nice conditions, so I am pretty happy. Today we had quite a long waiting, the wind was all over the place, but at some stage it started blowing a bit stronger and we started. I was in the second group, so I could watch what was happening ahead of me, but by the time we started the wind dropped and it was a pity. I was struggling a little bit. I finished sixth, surely not enough, both Valérian and Laurent had better results, so yeah it's a third place for me and I am happy with it."

Lebrun knew to stand any chance he had to win. "Today it was really hard. We got tons of waiting and it was really hard to stay focused and then I knew I had to win the race to get a chance to win and that's what I did. Laurent finished second and he won the event, the only thing I can do is congratulate him, he deserves it. He's been on the podium for many years and he's a fantastic Finn sailor."

Hay paid tribute to the high quality fleet. "It was amazing, the level was really high. I know I needed to handle today with no risk. Looking at the results this morning I could have finished third or second and I knew that to win the event I either had to win the last race or finish second. I had to beat my friend Valérian, who is my training partner in La Rochelle and he pushes me a lot and thanks to him I improved a lot."

At the epic prize-giving the biggest cheers are always for the Legends of the class. Everyone aspires to be sailing Finns in the 70s, but also this year there were six Super Legends. All were honoured at the start of the Prizegiving. Rodrick Casander won the Super Legends, while Rob Coutts was the runaway winner of the Legends.

European Masters champion, Peter Peet, won the Great Grand Master, Hay the Grand Masters and Lebrun the Masters. All great sailors and champions.

An amazing week in Punta Ala has come to an end, and everyone had a fantastic time with epic weather, tight racing, and that special atmosphere than comes with any Finn regatta. Huge thanks to the PuntAla Camp & Resort and the Centro Velico Punta Ala for putting on a really special event. It has been Finntastic.

Next year the event heads to Medemblik, The Netherlands with planning already under way for 400 boats. Now that would be quite something.

Overall Results: (top ten)

1 FRA 75 Laurent Haÿ 9pts
2 FRA 111 Valérian Lebrun 10pts
3 NED 6 Martijn van Muyden 12pts
4 NED 98 Nanno Schuttrups 13pts
5 NED 148 Peter Peet 20pts
6 GER 711 André Budzien 21pts
7 GBR 790 Nick Craig 24pts
8 GBR 5 John Greenwood 24pts
9 HUN 50 Akos Lukats 26pts
10 GBR 74 Lawrence Crispin 28pts

Super Legends
1 NED 8 Rodrick Casander
2 GBR 777 Howard Sellars
3 FRA 23 Daniel Chédeville

Legends
1 NZL 9 Rob Coutts
2 NED 11 Hendrik de Jager
3 AUS 68 Jay Harrison

Great Grand Master
1 NED 148 Peter Peet
2 GER 711 André Budzien
3 GBR 5 John Greenwood

Grand Masters
1 FRA 75 Laurent Hay
2 NED 6 Martijn van Muyden
3 GBR 790 Nick Craig

Masters
1 FRA 111 Valérian Lebrun
2 NED 98 Nanno Schuttrups
3 POR 21 Filipe Silva

Ladies
1 AUT 852 Claudia Maria Graber
2 AUT 330 Tina Weinrich

Crutch (11th)
POR 21 Filipe Silva

Best Nation
The Netherlands

Best Club
WSV Het Witte Huis, The Netherlands

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