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Ande Vihma 2020

The last regatta of the Finnish Dragon class was organized 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 class and the 606.

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 Gröndahl set a good square course and reading the clouds and acting on wind shifts became paramount. Local legend Soling Olympic sailor & European champion 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. Given 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 18-24 knots 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 Jaatinen and Jari Helminen match raced to the finish line but unfortunately, they lost sight of Henri Virkkunen who managed to overtake both boats and take third place.

In race 4 all boats off to a very clean start with the port side of the course paying off 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 Virkkunen. This gave the lead back to Erkki Heinonen. On the second drop downwind, Monika Mikkola had a spinnaker over the bow but this quickly resolved by the agile Astrid 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 Virkkunen 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 planning 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 Virkkunen 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 dragon in the future.