Open Belgian Championship FINN-class who’ll beat the veterans?
OBC Finn 23 Scharendijke – Grevelingen – Zeeland
For the second time, the Belgian Finn class opts for the fascinating combination that the classic Benelux Championship entails.
The open waters of the Grevelingen lake, a former North Sea arm, the accommodation of the club and marina of Scharendijke, the solid competition organization of WSS and the RYCB Race & Rescue team, the general, international atmosphere, all assets to let the men in this notorious and lively class experience four days of top racing.
The racecourse will be laid out on the broadest part of the former combined estuary of the rivers Scheldt and Meuse, next to the North Sea.
Everything for the Belgian Finn title
The championship will be spread over four days from august 12 to 15 incl. in Scharendijke, Grevelingen, Zeeland.
Last year, 30 participants registered: 12 Belgians, 17 Dutch and 1 German. The best Belgian Finn sailors are expected again this year, if we are to believe the WhatsApp reports. The formula of the Benelux Championship guarantees the best Dutch Finn-ists. Registrations are open, the class expects at least as many participants as last year. And hopes to attract Finn sailors from the surrounding countries.
The class is looking forward to increased competition in this OBC because the experience of the sailors grows as more is sailed. Oh yes. But look at the calendar of the Belgian class, the regularity with which sailing is done and the flywheel operation need no further explanation.
As a result, Sigurd Vergauwe, who has already won the national title several times, is finding increasingly difficult in the battle with Finn celebrities – former Olympic sailors like Filip Wilms, Sebastien Godefroid (photo) and Willy Hambrouck who bought a Finn again this year. Also, Matisse Cattrysse (Europe), last year’s best Belgian Finn, Yves Bassette (Dragon) or Tony Delava (IRC). Former Europe Class champion Ewoud Pylyser said he bought his Fantastica 2018 especially for this championship. And more.
One can expect surprises, especially because the class now also attracts other, sometimes younger, sailors from the sailing zones Limburg and Ostend.
The choice to hold the Open Belgian Championship during the Benelux Championships on the Grevelingen lake, a co-organization of the Royal Yacht Club of Belgium and the Watersportvereniging Scharendijke, brings together the best of all qualities. Open water, free wind, but no current and no excessive waves. Although some sailors kick on current and waves on the North Sea, the Grevelingen openness appeals to more European Finn sailors.
Looking for compromise
Even in the respectable Finn class, they know the concept of compromise well. The boat and the class enjoy three high standards: technical, tactical, and physical, both for the boats, the equipment, and the sailors. The fact that it is a former Olympic class means that the competitions are of an important level and therefore also require a prominent level in those standards. Competition for demanding and usually powerful, hefty gourmets, in other words.
The design of the Finn is now 74 years young, but both boat and equipment evolved with the times. In the top of the range material, carbon, titanium, Kevlar are used and in the field of boat construction the search for the best combination of material and engineering is far from its final station. The pleasant thing is that even boats from a few generations ago can compete in the top competition, which makes it clear that the sailor still realizes the performance.
Fanning smoldering fire
In a few years, the Belgian Finn class occupation grew from a handful of sailors to more than forty now. This has to do with the intensive PR of Wim Henderieckx, sail coach and head of a sailing school on the Galgenweel near Antwerp. By touring and racing, he persuaded the owners of the boats that had been stationary for far too long to wipe of the dust and take part. Not only his personal commitment attracted more Finn sailors, but the renewed interest also was an international trend.
Stijn Helsen, PR of Finn Sailing Belgium, says that in the Finn you can sail on the forefront, have a wide choice of fascinating competitions, but that – in contrast to the Olympic era – you can still perform well being non-professional. His choice of the Finn has to do with the quality of the matches, but also with time. No more crew searching and arranging complex transfers and he can perform without his work or family life suffering. In Belgium there are three zones where the Finn flourishes: Limburg, Ostend (Spuikom) and Antwerp.
The Galgenweel in Antwerp may be small, but there are also regularly very accessible competitions such as the Midweek Challenges on Wednesday evening, excellent training events.