Laurent Hay wins Finn World Masters

Published on June 15th, 2024

France’s Laurent Hay (above) won the 2024 Finn World Master Championships on June 10-14 in Punta Ala, Italy. It was 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 (NED) 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. Hay beat Lebrun by one point and van Muyden by three points.

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 took a long time to stabilize, 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.

With 285 competitors, racing was held in four random groups each day. The 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 (ITA) won the Yellow group and Roberto Strappati (ITA) 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, 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 (HUN), 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.

“It was amazing, the level was really high,” said Hay. “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 honored at the start of the prize giving. Rodrick Casander (NED) won the Super Legends, while Rob Coutts (NZL) was the runaway winner of the Legends.

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

Next year the event heads to Medemblik, The Netherlands with planning already underway for 400 boats.

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

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

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

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

1 AUT 852 Claudia Maria Graber
2 AUT 330 Tina Weinrich

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