Sailing is a beautiful and diverse sport. There is not a person in this world who would doubt it. It is one of not many sports that brings a high school student and a grandmaster, a rookie and a seasoned sailor on the starting line, and a lot of time, both will have close chances of winning the race. Moreover, Finn sailing specifically allows big guys in a whopping range of 80 pounds to be competitive. Big boys, 190 to 270 pounds, battling close on the racecourse and having a blast!
The Annual Wickford Regatta at the eponymous town in Rhode Island ran through the weekend of June 5th and 6th. It proved the statement about the diversity of the Finn class to be more relevant than ever before. Wickford attracted competitors from Illinois, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The old and new, small and big boats, rookies and masters, all gathered in Wickford to have fun and learn. This was the first time the Finn class visited this venue and what a venue it was! Winds ranging from 10 to 28 knots, tidal currents ripping at 3 knots, and some crazy 30-40 degree shifts, both shifting persistently to the right on the first day, and oscillating on the second day.
The Narragansett Bay challenged the eight boat fleet from the very beginning of the regatta. Stephen Smeulders (USA 1000) took an early lead by winning the first and the second races. He saw the never-stopping right shift and was able to hold a relatively fast speed in his brand new Fantastica. Rodion and Nikita Mazin, USA 16 and USA 7 were trailing behind with five points each after the first two races.
The third and final race of the first day was sailed in challenging 25-28 knot winds. Only 5 out of eight were able to finish this one. Rodion took an early lead at the start and continued to control Stephen through the race, which turned into a match-race duel. At the end of the first day the first three places 4,6, and 8 points respectively went to Stephen Smeulders, Rodion Mazin, and Nikita Mazin. The legend Chuck Rudinsky and the great grandmaster Peter Frissell were fighting it out for the fourth place. Both stayed ahead of the rookies and showed quite a skill, sailing in the treacherous conditions of the Narragansett Bay.
The second day of the regatta started with the light pressure, but unfortunately, the first race had to be abandoned due to the 180-degree shift. After an hour and a half wait, the pressure finally filled in from the southwest. This time around, the oscillating shifts made the game a little bit more interesting, but Rodion Mazin didn’t give anyone a chance. After a clear start, he again controlled the fleet, played all the shifts just right, and held a comfortable lead over Stephen Smeulders and Nikita Mazin in the last two races. Final results are available at Wickford Regatta 2021 – Series Standing (regattanetwork.com)
Next on the agenda is the U.S. National Championship in Corpus Christi, TX, followed by the Great Lakes Championship in Monroe, MI, and Cazenovia/Canandaigua August series in upstate New York.