Finn World Masters: German Budzien Holds Lead in Big Breeze

Published on June 12th, 2014

Sopot, Poland (June 12, 2014) – Andre Budzien (GER) maintains his overall lead at the Finn World Masters after an action packed day of thrills and spills in Gdańsk Bay as strong winds and a full race program tested the sailors to the limits of endurance. Defending champion, Michael Maier (CZE), is one point behind in second, while Allen Burrell (GBR) is another eight points back in third.

It was a different day in Sopot as the 235 Finn sailors were treated to proper wind and perfect Finn sailing conditions. Strong, gusty pressure replaced the light, fickle winds that have dogged the event so far. In one day the fleet sailed as many races as it had already sailed for the week, to not only make it a valid championship, but also to allow a drop to come into affect. With five races now sailed, the competitors can discard their worst race, which for quite a number of sailors was a BFD.

The offshore wind meant the water was only slightly choppy, but also that the pressure was quite patchy, with several monster gusts causing more than a little excitement, especially at the crowded mark rounds. For some, the goal was just to make it round in one piece. Most succeeded, though there were a number of spectacular capsizes and broaches.

Blue fleet got the day under way as they sailed three races to catch up with the lost race from Wednesday. Michael Maier (CZE) took the first race, but in the second had problems with his centerboard, which allowed Ray Hall (NZL) to pass, a lead he kept to the finish. Maier ended the day with another race win. Aleksandr Kuliukin (RUS) and Igor Frolov (RUS) both had good days to move into fourth and fifth overall. A sixth for Hall in the third race just squeezed him into the medal race with equal points with Marc Allain Des Beauvais (FRA).

Hall recalled his race win, “Maier and I both came off the line at the pin, and I took a hit back into the middle. There were a couple of Russian guys who came out of the right on a good lift and led us both round the top mark. Maier managed to get through to the front on the downwind and I moved up to third. On the second beat I stayed on the left and got on Maier’s hip and pushed through at the top mark. I ducked him on the gybe and was able to free pump down to gain the inside angle and came back to cover. He rode down on me on the final reach in the big gusts, but I was able to hold it up the last beat to the finish. It was nice. I’d take that any day. Then I broke the tiller extension in the second race, so that was a bit of a painful one, but I still managed sixth. It was a good day, with a good Finn wind and some great rides on the reaches and downwind. It was great fun.”

In Yellow fleet Andre Budzien (GER) was made to work for his two race wins. He was in trouble after both starts and had to work his way through on the beats, but his downwind speed saved him. Allen Burrell (GBR) should have done better today based on his upwind performance, but he lost places on the downwinds. It was enough to move up to third, though a nine-point jump to first might be too large to bridge. Walter Riosa (ITA) and Piet Eckert (SUI) both had consistent days to join Friday’s medal race.

Budzien commented, “Very good day for a light man like me. It was nice but my first beats are always not so good in heavy winds, but in both races I had a bit of good luck two or three hundred metres before the top mark, where I got some good windshifts and got near to the top guys. Downwind I had good speed. It was hard to defend upwind, but on the downwind I managed to make some distance. In the first race it was Allen pushing me and in the second it was Piet Eckert. I needed a 100 meter or so lead round the downwind mark to keep the lead upwind.”

Burrell mulled over his missed chances, “It was a pretty hard day actually. I felt like I had really good speed upwind in the breeze, but I was struggling downwind a bit, maybe because I am bigger than the other guys. I am really aching now, but it was a good day and good fun. It was good for me to race today but a lot of sailors will have struggled in those conditions, because it was quite windy. It’s pretty tough on the older guys.”

Five races are needed to be able to sail a medal race, so Friday’s schedule will be the final race for Yellow and Blue groups (less the medal race sailors) and then the medal race itself. The Masters use a Top Ten Plus rule, which means all sailors on points equal or less than tenth place can sail the medal race. So, tomorrow there will be 11 boats in the medal race.

Interestingly, the top three are all Grand Masters, so will also be competing for those medals. The Grand Grand Masters is being dominated by Henry Sprague (USA), who led Yellow fleet round the first mark in the first race today. He has a 30 point lead over Chris Frijdal (NED), but also has a BFD from race 1, so still needs another good race to take that title. The points are much closer in the Legend category with Howard Sellars (GBR) holding a two-point lead over Richard Hart (GBR). While Sellars capsized and retired in his second race in Yellow fleet today, 75-year-young Hart completed the three grueling races in the Blue fleet, and finished all three in the top 50.

The final fleet race is scheduled for 11.00 on Friday with the medal race to immediately follow.

1 GER 711 Andre Budzien 4
2 CZE 1 Michael Maier 5
3 GBR 2 Allen Burrell 13
4 RUS 161 Aleksandr Kuliukin 14
5 RUS 31 Igor Frolov 17
6 ITA 55 Walter Riosa 22
7 SUI 86 Piet Eckert 24
8 SUI 5 Christen Christoph 26
9 GER 193 Thomas Schmid 28
10 NZL 2 Ray Hall 32
11 FRA 99 Marc Allain Des Beauvais 32


Report by Robert Deaves
Photo by Robert Hajduk |







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