How lucky can you get? After a month of terrible weather across the UK, the Finn World Masters in Pwllheli North Wales has opened amid soaring temperatures and brilliant blue skies. The 131 Masters from 23 countries who are gathered in Pwllheli just cannot believe their good fortune. The championship was opened, Sunday, by the President of the Masters fleet, Fons van Gent (NED), to the sounds of the 40 strong Caernarfon Male Voice Choir and in the presence of a host of local dignitaries including Lord Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales until 2011 and Lord Wigley, former Member of the Welsh Assembly for Caernarfon.
The opening ceremony was opened by Gareth Hughes Jones, President of the Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club, who thanked all the many sponsors, in particular the Welsh Government, and the Gwyedd Council, as well Firmhelm which supplied the supplied the event shirts.
Before declaring the championship open, Fon van Gent said, “I would like to thank the Pwllheli Sailing Club for hosting our Finn World Masters 2012. We really like the venue. About the weather, we were told that in Pwllheli that it's cold and rainy so I brought all the warm clothing that I own. But I remembered the song 'Wherever you go always take the weather with you.' So I did.”
Then Fons van Gent handed the Finn Masters flag over to Gareth Hughes Jones and the championship was officially declared open. The Caernarfon Male Voice Choir entertained the 300 sailors families and guest to a selection of various songs before everyone enjoyed the wonderful array of food available and the free beer courtesy of the Purple Moose Brewery.
The practice race was sailed earlier on Sunday. Despite the great weather, the price the sailors paid was a fitful wind as the forecast force 3-4 disappeared soon after the scheduled start, with two failed attempts to get the fleet away. After an hour's postponement, a sea breeze filled in and the fleet sailed two laps of a windward leeward course before being sent in. Laurent Hay (FRA) was the early leader, but opted for an early shower. Greg Wilcox (NZL) soon took the lead, but as the new breeze distorted the course the boats were sent home.
The first two races are scheduled for 12.00 on Monday. The Olympic Torch Relay also visits the club on Monday, the second time it has coincided with a major Finn Championship in two weeks. The championship consists of eight races including a medal race for the top 10 on Friday.
The welcome from the club has been tremendous and all the sailors are looking forward to a great championship.