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Finn Senior and U23 European Championships

The 2017 Finn Senior and U23 European Championships opens in the French Mediterranean port city of Marseille this weekend.

Finn start Hyeres 2017 - Click image for a larger image

Coming straight after the World Cup Series event in Hyères last week, some of the form for the coming week should be easy to predict, but the fleet is more than double the size with 65 sailors from 26 countries on the pre-entry list.

The outright winner in Hyeres, Alican Kaynar, from Turkey, will be full of confidence after winning his first major event last week. He will be keen to show that he can repeat this performance.

Likewise new Finn convert, Nicholas Heiner from the Netherlands is gaining confidence at only his fifth regatta since he stepped into the boat towards the end of 2016.

The son of the 1996 Olympic bronze medalist Roy Heiner, he is not only keen to follow in his father’s footsteps but also to exceed his achievements.

His start in the class has been exceptional so far, but as a former Laser World Champion, he knows his way around the race course.

Click image for a larger image

The home fleet will be led by the bronze medalist in Hyères, and the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, Jonathan Lobert, who has just started his third full campaign. Although he is still in recovery for knee surgery earlier this year he is proving as dangerous as ever,

Also in the wings is the younger, and hungry, Fabian Pic, who is making huge progress and will push Lobert hard going towards 2020 selection. Eight years younger than Lobert, Pic was putting together a great series in Hyères until a few slip-ups mid series.

The ever-strong British team will be headed by 2010 world champion Ed Wright and Ben Cornish, both of who are more than capable of podium finishes.

Wright, who is one of only two previous European champions competing next week, has just announced his intention to campaign or Tokyo, his fourth attempt to realize his Olympic dream, and one that has been previously dashed by the likes of Ben Ainslie and then Giles Scott.

With Scott's future Finn plans still uncertain due to America's cup commitments, Wright may finally achieve his goal. Based on his performance last week in Hyères he is as fast and determined as ever.

Finn start Hyeres 2017 - Click image for a larger image

If Marseille lives up to expectations he will be hard to beat. Cornish, 14 years younger, is starting to hit the front of the fleet more frequently and threatens a win sooner or later.

There are less of the 'old guard' sailing this year than in previous seasons with nine sailors who were in Rio and only five who were in London.

The young guys are starting to take over and it will be interesting who emerges as the leaders of this group.

From an U23 perspective, numbers are down on previous years with last years strong group now too old to compete. The 2015 Junior World Champion, Ondra Teply, from the Czech Republic must be the favourite, but he will still have some strong opposition from the fleet.

Modified Medal Race Format

Following the format trial in Palma this year, the 'medal races' will be a slight modification, with three boats from the opening series fast tracked to the final.

The next seven boats will sail the semi-final, with the top two going through to the winner takes all five boat final.

All boats will sail the 10 race opening series from Monday 8 May to Saturday 13 May before the finals on Saturday afternoon.

The championships open on Friday 5th May with the practice race on Sunday 7 May.

The host club is the Yachting Club de la Pointe Rouge, though the sailing base is about 4 km to the north of the club at Stade Nautique du Roucas Blanc.

Robert Deaves
4 May 2017 8:18 GMT


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