It was another, and the last, day of Finn sailing in paradise. And it was another windy, tough day of challenging sailing in Barbados with big winds, big waves and big wind shifts. It was time for the final showdown. The medal race would define who took home the medals and it turned out to be a dramatic, and for some, calamitous, conclusion to an otherwise perfect week of racing in the Caribbean.
First up was the Final Race for everyone except the top 10. Antonio Poncell, from Chile, dominated the Yellow fleet in tough conditions, with a severe chop upwind and a hairy downwind that makes men out of boys. He was followed over the line by Andre Mirsky, of Brazil, and Michel Audoin, of France, who sailed his best race of the week. The win also elevated Poncell to 11th overall to win the Crutch.
In the Blue fleet, the Scandinavians dominated, with the win going to Johan Wijk, of Sweden, from Lars Hall, of Denmark and Ville Valtonen, of Finland. The downwind mark had drifted away and was replaced by a mark boat, but several sailors got confused and ended up being disqualified after missing out the final mark.
Then, the ever contentious Medal Race was sailed just off the shore of Carlisle Bay and produced a plethora of wind shifts, overall place changes, mistakes from sailors and general chaos on the race course with 40 degree shifts and huge pressure changes as the wind pulsated off the shore.
The Swiss got to grips with the first beat with Piet Eckert leading Christoph Burger around the top mark. Laurent Hay was third, enough to win the title, with Rafael Trujillo back in sixth. But Hay fouled Karl Purdie at the top and dropped back. Then three sailors, including Trujillo, picked up a yellow flag for pumping on the first downwind in 16-20 knots as the race committee had failed to raise Oscar flag.
Eckert and Burger led round the gate and back out to the left, while Trujillo picked up a shift on the right to close on the leaders at the top to take back the overall lead. Eckert still led, but Vladimir Krutskikh had also recovered well and just crossed Trujillo at the top. Trujillo ducked him, but made an error and dropped his mainsheet, causing their masts to touch. After doing his turns Trujillo was way back and out of contention. Krutskikh rounded second and found his own private wind down the last run to pass Eckert and take the win and his second Finn World Masters title. Hay crossed fourth to take silver while Trujillo crossed sixth to take the bronze.
It has been an extraordinary week of first-class Finn sailing in Barbados, and the sentiment as everyone departed was that the class wants to come back sometime in the future. Next year the Finn World Masters meets in El Balis, in Spain, for what is expected to be a bumper edition.
Final results (medal race result in brackets)
1 RUS 73 Vladimir Krutskikh, M 12 (1)
2 FRA 75 Laurent Hay, GM 17 (4)
3 ESP 100 Rafael Trujillo, M 17 (6)
4 SUI 86 Piet Eckert, M 19 (2)
5 FRA 99 Marc Alain des Beauvais, GGM 23 (3)
6 CZE 1 Michael Maier, GM 25 (7)
7 SUI 7 Christoph Burger, M 31 (5)
8 NZL 111 Karl Purdie, GM 38 (8)
9 GBR 2 Allen Burell, GM 44 (9)
10 GER 707 Ulrich Breuer, GM 45 (10)
1. Gerd Bohnsack, RSA
1. Henry Sprague, USA
2. David Bull, AUS
3. Charles Rudinsky, USA
Grand Grand Masters
1. Marc Allain des Beauvais, FRA
2. Rob Coutts, USA
3. David Hoogenboom, NZL
1. Laurent Hay, FRA
2. Michael Maier, CZE
3. Karl Purdie, NZL
1. Vladimir Krutskikh, RUS
2. Rafael Trujillo, ESP
3. Piet Eckert, SUI
Geest Perseverance Award: Peter Langer-Langmaack, GER
Art of Racing Prize: Uli Breuer, GER
The Crutch (11th): Antonio Poncell, CHI
Full results here.