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Finland Dragon season concludes with windy regatta
The last regatta of the Finnish Dragon class was organized by HSK and sailed on the Melkki sailing area. 10 boats confirmed entry, slightly down on the average but a very competitive fleet lined up. The racecourse was shared with the Star and the 606 classes.
On Saturday racing was postponed for two hours for the wind to drop and rain squalls to pass. Autumn has started. Once out race officer Ted Grondal set a good square course and reading the clouds and acting on wind shifts became paramount. Local sailing legend a bronze Olympic Soling sailor Erkki Heinonen found a new gear in his boat and lead race one all the way around. He was closely followed by Henri Virkkunen who has turned out for every regatta and always first on the racecourse to check the course and his boat set up.
In the second race of the day the wind picked up and Mikko Jaatinen was one of the first victims of gear failure and turned home. The finishing order however was again Erkki Heinonen in first and Henri Virkunnen in second. Giving them a good chase was Laser Radial sailor Monika Mikkola sailing and helming a Dragon for the first time.
On Sunday conditions were brisk with Southwest 18-24knots wind and ominous clouds passing regularly over the racecourse. Erkki Heinonen kept up the same pace as yesterday and took race one. Monika Mikkola however had learned a few things from yesterday’s racing and especially upwind showed great speed and height which could not be matched by fellow competitors and downwind was pushing her team hard to pump the sails and move weight to surf the waves. This paid off in securing a solid second place. Mikko Jaatien and Jari Helminen match raced to the finish line but unfortunately, they lost sight of Henri Virkunnen who managed to overtake both boats and take third place.
In race 4 all boats were off to a very clean start with the port side of the course paying most on the first beat. Monica Mikkola had the upper hand in boat speed and height but was taken over the lay-line by Henri Virkunnen. This gave the lead back to Erkki Heinonen. On the second drop downwind, Monika Mikkola had a spinnaker over the bow but this was quickly resolved by the agile Astrild Still on the foredeck. Four boats passed them but local knowledge, amazing helming skill and crew in full hiking mode brought them back to take another second place.
In the last race of the day, the winds had picked up clocking at 20-24 knots and even higher in the gusts. Erkki Heinonen had already secured the regatta but still raced and took another bullet. Never more than a few boat lengths behind him was Henri Virkunnen and Monika Mikkola, the latter two seemed to match race every move were never more than a few boat lengths apart. On the last downwind the Dragons went into full planing mode; it was a very exhilarating ride for anybody putting the kite up. Coming round the bottom mark it was a close race to the finish line but Henri Virkunnen just took second place with Monika Mikkola taking third only a few meters behind. Having enjoyed Dragon racing for the first time she is heading off to sail Kieler Woche in pursuit of her Olympic sailing career and the Finnish Dragon Association wishes her every success and we hope to see her back helming a Dragons in the future.
A great closing weekend for the Finnish Dragon fleet with all regattas sailed accompanied by some great socials. See you in 2021!
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