Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland, leads the U23 Finn World Championship, for the Finn Silver Cup, in Anzio, Italy.
The event got underway on Tuesday in fantastic sailing conditions with Theuninck finishing the first day on 9 points, four ahead of former winner Oskari Muhonen, of Finland, with Britain’s James Skulczuk a further point back in third place.
Theuninck is the world No 15 and still hoping to qualify for Tokyo.
He has been in the class just under two years and points out that he still has 10 months to go to the final qualification event. With the learning curve he has been on so far, he stands a very real chance of achieving his goals.
He scored a 3, 2, 4 Tuesday to lead after the opening day. “Glamorous sailing conditions in Anzio, and we did three races in big winds. It was a lot of fun. I am happy with the day but still a lot to improve.”
The three opening race wins went to Muhonen, Skulczuk and Joan Cardona, from Spain.
Anzio turned on the glamour for the first day of racing with three great races to test the young Finn fleet. With a hot 10-12 knots rising to 15-18 knots, and with some great waves and clear blue skies.
The 2017 champion Muhonen, dominated the first race, leading out of the right to hold the lead the whole way round. Cardona and Theuninck were close behind and chasing, but had their own battle and finished in that order.
A big left shift on the first beat on Race 2 favoured the British sailors Callum Dixon and James Skulczuk.
Dixon rounded with a nice lead and extended downwind to hold a huge lead at the second top mark. However it ended there when his rudder blade sheered off and he had to watch the whole fleet sail past.
With Dixon out, Skulczuk sped away downwind to win from Theuninck and Muhonen.
By the final race, the sailors were becoming tired and this showed in the huge spread on the final downwind, with more than half the leg between the professionals at the front and those at the back.
But even the professionals were complaining of tired limbs after a full day free pumping.
Taavi Valter Taveter, from Estonia, was the early leader, holding the lead until the second lap when Cardona came past.
Johannes Pettersson, from Sweden recorded his best race of the day with a third place finish.
For Britain’s Skulczuk, his race win was his first in international competition and it meant a lot to him.
Part of the GAC-Pindar British U23 team that is managed by the British class association, he is frustrated that decisions outside his control have left him with a lack of options to continue his career in Olympic sailing.
It is his final year as an U23.
“Due to the Finn being dropped, my Olympic dream has been smashed as I am around 98 kg and it means I won’t really be able to sail any other Olympic dinghy, and it’s a massive shame just as I was starting to gain the skills at the international level. I’ll never know where I could have gone in the future with Olympic sailing. It’s a great shame.”
Finn – U23 leading results after 3 races
1st SUI 1 Nils Theuninck 9 pts
2nd FIN 8 Oskari Muhonen 13 pts
3rd GBR 81 James Skulczuk 14 pts
4th EST 1 Taavi Valter Taveter 16 pts
5th ITA 71 Federico Colaninno 24 pts
6th ESP 26 Joan Cardona 32 pts
7th SWE 11 Johannes Pettersson 36 pts
8th CYP 1 Panagiotis Iordanou 37 pts
9th POL 1 Sebastian Kalafarski 40 pts
10th AUS 32 Jock Calvert 41 pts
12th HUN 80 Domonkos Nemeth 41 pts
14th GBR 38 Callum Dixon 46 pts
17th ITA 115 Paolo Freddi 49 pts