SWISS NATIONALS 2014 CHRISTOPH BURGER (KING) DOMINATION
Central Europe Finn sailors are seldom seen along major events apart from Finn Masters and other regional events located in south of France or south Germany and Garda Lake.
Swiss sailors meet along their many lakes and race most times in light conditions this including their yearly Finn nationals. Over ten years ago they already organised their Nationals at Port Camargue, on the Med coast, in the true south of Rhone valley.
The historical site (home port of crusades) offers a large bay, most days sunny conditions but also, often, very heavy winds from south East, West (Tramontana) and possibly North (Mistral). This is far from swiss current conditions! Anyhow the organisers of Swiss Finn association kept nice rememberings of their previous event and decided to do their 2014 nationals, off Port Camargue. Being only 4 hrs away from swiss border this huge marina hosts numerous swiss yachts and their owners could help with the organisation.
With almost 40 entrants the event was a success including mainly the best swiss of several generations, two UK sailors, several german and six french. Marc Allain des Beauvais as well as Thomas Morel could foreseen the event as an easy challenge, if windy conditions were showing up.
First two days turned this way with a wild south easterly wind set around and often, above 25 knots. In these conditions only 14 finns left the modern marina to enter two races. As expected, the best french fought well ahead in the fleet but they found a serious dominating opposition. Christoph Burger, one of the swiss North Sails experts won race 1 ahead of Peter Theurer, the last Swiss Olympic rep at 2000 Olympics. Despite lack of practice, Peter won race 2 followed by Christoph Christen well known for his top results at Masters worlds. All three are tall, talented and heavy around 100 kgs. Behind the swiss trio, french Thomas Morel and Marc Allain des Beauvais were the most consistent, often fighting neck and neck with Beat Steffen and the other top three swiss...
Day two breeze was a bit easier around 20 knots and most entrants sailed out. The same top six leaders kept wins and top scores. Promising young french sailor Thomas Morel achieved 3 second that day while Christoph Burger was gaining three more bullets. Race 5 showed a fierce fight between Burger and Marc Allain des Beauvais who held the lead after leg two upwind. He then mistaked, sailing directly to finish line, while there was still another lap to do. He thus gave an easy lead gap to Christoph Burger, who won his 4th race.
Day 3 was very light and only one late race could be done after a long wait out on the bay. While most top guys started at pin end of line and played left side, Christoph Christen was right to set his strategy a bit more central upwind. He cleared top mark with a sufficient lead to keep Marc Allain des Beauvais second while Franz Buergi, a lighter sailor took third on finishing line. Wind was almost gone on day 4 and no more races could be done.
Together with Jiri Huracek, and before ending 14 th overall, swiss class vice président Peter Kilchenmann was the key man around the event. He convinced his mates to opt for this "outside swiss location" he worked a lot to set the organising team, get numerous gifts from several sponsors and every evening did a friendly daily prize giving and lottery. French class and its sponsors also helped to make the event possible and fun.
Christoph Burger is now 38. Twice in 2004 and 2008 he was best to become the Swiss rep at Olympics... but swiss Olympic Comitee decided not to send a Finn. Next to finns, as known partner of North sails Swiss, he races on various classes like Stars, GC 32, and just the week after Finns, he became 5.5 JI meters world champion as tactician for Flavio Marrazi.
Being busy with family and career concerns Peter Theurer, now 45, has for long left Finn international meetings. He still races the Finn he raced at Sydney Olympics 2000 and does most of his racing from Bien lake, in central Switzerland. At 2014 nationals he did it all on expérience and strengh and so ended second despite total lack of pre practice.
Among it's now over 100 members, Swiss Finn class has 60 activ sailors and 20 well known along international events. The ever enthusiastic Thomas Gautschi being probably the most seen at ISAF events and Finn Gold Cups for many years. Next to all these males, there was one female sailor with Kathrin Wagner. With her 48 kgs... she only raced the light weather final days.