The 2023 Finn North American Championship
By Rodion Mazin
Newport Harbor, CA – September 2-4, 2023
In the hallowed waters of Newport Harbor, where the legacy of maritime excellence ran as deep as the Pacific itself, the 2023 Finn North American Championship unfolded in a ballet of wind, waves, and sheer skill. Hosted by the respected Newport Harbor Yacht Club, the regatta promised to be a crucible of competition, and it did not disappoint.
Over three days, from the 2nd to the 4th of September, 2023, the waters of the Pacific Ocean played host to a spectacle of sailing prowess that would etch itself into the annals of the Finn racing history. The conditions were as capricious as the sea itself, testing the mettle of every sailor on the race course.
Day one unfurled with a solitary race, a gentle prelude to the tempest that lay ahead. The winds played coy, light, and wispy, with a swell as grand as the Pacific itself surging from the south-southwest. Yet, beneath this deceptive tranquility, a northerly tidal current ran strong, a silent undercurrent that would test the finesse of every Finnster.
On day two, the sea bore its teeth, whipping up waves that danced with a ferocity not expected on the shores of Newport Beach. Winds howled between twelve to eighteen knots, a force to be reckoned with, driving in from the north-northwest. Four races unfolded, each one a testament to the resilience and strategy of the sailors who dared to challenge the elements and tame the beast known as the Finn.
Then came the decisive day three, where the capricious winds chose their own course, blowing ever so lightly from the south-southwest. A swell, fourteen seconds apart, introduced a maddening rhythm into the fray, with the 15-degree wind shift at the bottom and the top of the swell. Here, the left-hand side of the course proved to be the favorite, luring the fleet in pursuit of elusive advantage.
In the crucible of competition, three sailors stood tall, etching their names into the record books. James Golden, fresh from his 2023 Silver Cup triumph and a commendable sixth place at the 2023 Finn Gold Cup, wielded his craft with a finesse born of relentless dedication. Rodion Mazin, no stranger to victory, parlayed his 2021 USA Finn National Championship and 2022 North American Championship into a fierce challenge. His silver at the 2023 National Championship and seventh-place finish at the Finn Gold Cup attested to his tenacity. Erik Lidecis, the 2022 USA Finn National Champion and 2013 Finn Master Worlds Silver Medalist, brought a legacy of excellence to the waters.
As the sails unfurled and hulls sliced through the brine, the attendance spoke volumes. The regatta drew the Finn sailors from the length and breadth of the United States, a testament to the prestige of the event and the indomitable spirit of its participants. From the shores of Annapolis, MD to the Great Lakes, from San Diego, CA to Grasham, OR, the sailors converged, united by a singular passion for the sea.
Behind this epic gathering stood the unsung heroes of the race committee, the orchestrators of this maritime ballet. The organizing authority, the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, provided a stage worthy of the contestants, a canvas upon which their accomplishments could be painted. At the helm of it all, Robert Kinney, the Chairman, steered the ship of this grand endeavor with a steady hand, ensuring every detail was attended to, every contingency considered.
And when the final reckoning came, it was USA 606, under the stewardship of James Golden, that emerged triumphant with the most steady performance in all conditions. A masterful performance, navigating through tempestuous seas and capricious winds, earning every accolade with a precision that spoke of a lifetime devoted to the craft. USA 16, helmed by Rodion Mazin, followed closely, a testament to his unwavering pursuit of excellence, exceptional physique, and chief downwind sailing technique. Erik Lidecis, aboard USA 505, rounded out the triumvirate of top performers, a stalwart presence in the face of a fickle sea. Honorable mentions are John F. Dane, Charles Buckingham, Andrew Kern, Nikta Mazin, Chris Raab, Darell Peck, and Anatolii Nosar, all showing skill and adding to a tough competition on the water.
In the wake of this spectacle, the waters off Newport Beach seemed to exhale as if bearing witness to a chapter of history written in wind and waves. The 2023 Finn North American Championship had etched its mark on the maritime tapestry, a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who dared to challenge the sea. And as the last sail disappeared beyond the horizon, the legacy of this epic regatta would echo through the ages, carried on the whispers of the wind and the ebb and flow of the tides.
The 2024 Finn North American Championship is scheduled to take place at the legendary Newport, RI, and will be hosted by Sail Newport from the 27th to the 30th of September, 2024. Monitor www.finnusa.org for more info and the 2024 regatta schedule.
Pictures by Bob Yates and Larry Parker