Domonkos Nemeth from Hungary took it right to the wire but claimed both the 2023 Open and U23 Finn Europeans in Csopak, Hungary on Thursday. In doing so, he becomes the first sailor ever to win both the senior and U23 titles in the same year, the first Hungarian to win the Finn Junior European title and only the second Hungarian to win the Senior title, after Zsombor Berecz won in 2020 and 2021. Berecz of course is the manager of the host club this year, Procelero SE.
Laurent Hay, from France, took the silver medal while Alessandro Marega, from Italy won the bronze medal after two races on Thursday in light and shifty northerlies and again quite cold and grey conditions.
After an average start Nemeth somehow found his way to the front at the top mark in Race 9, to lead down and take his eighth win of the series. However, his 15th place in Race 3 was haunting him and it wasn’t over, especially with Hay crossing in third.
Nemeth got it all wrong in the final race and struggled to keep pace with the leaders. Hungary’s Elemer Peter Haidekker rounded first with Hay in third and Nemeth in the teens. Hay took the lead on the second upwind to then take the win, so it all came down to the number of boats between then. Nemeth recovered to cross in tenth and so took the title by just four points.
However, the performance of the day went to Haidekker with a 2,3 to end the regatta in an excellent fourth overall.
Top 3 U23
Nemeth said, “I feel really good I’m super grateful for the weather, I’m also super tired but it’s a good tiredness so yeah, I’m super happy.
“We had many conditions but mostly windy ones and those were really good for me. We had one with last win there I got my worst place and then today was also pretty tricky but of course I can manage but also it was also luck.”
On today, “I was pretty anxious, I was really close to the line. I thought I was over, and then on the second upwind I made a huge mistake and then I dropped back so much, but I knew that I probably could make it if I was in top ten.”
On the competition, “Laurent is a really good sailor, and everybody was super nice. Laurent had only one mistakes just one, 2 days ago and yeah he was killing it. I’m really grateful to sail with him.”
On the conditions, “This is not normally Hungary. We never had these conditions before, this was also new for me so everything is not how we expected. For me the strong wind days were really good, I was quite fast downwind all the time.
“I’m super grateful for the Finn class. This was probably one of my, I’m not saying my last, but for now I will try to maintain the sailing to get to the Olympics in another class, so we will see what the future brings.”
In the U23, Nemeth was dominant, while there was a great fight for the other medals between the three Hungarians Ábel Szűcs, Bence Rácz and Attila Svastits. In the end, Svastits, in 22nd overall, took the silver just 1 point ahead of Szűcs who took the bronze. Six U23 sailors took part this year.
This has been a tough championship by any measure. While many competitors expected light, warm conditions, only two days were sailed below 10 knots. It has been a physical and mental challenge of endurance in some very testing conditions. Unusually as well, all ten races were sailed. The 70 sailors from 21 nations might leave Csopak exhausted, but all had an unforgettable experience here. Around 30 to 40 of them now head straight to Nea Iraklitsa near Kavala, in Greece for the Finn World Masters, starting next week, and hopefully some better weather.
Final results after 10 races
1 HUN 80 Domonkos NÉMETH 18
2 FRA 75 Laurent HAŸ 22
3 ITA 983 Alessando MAREGA 42
4 HUN 911 Elemér Péter HAIDEKKER 49
5 POR 21 Filipe SILVA 67
6 RSA 1 Ian AINSLIE 74
7 POL 6 Bartosz SZYDLOWSKI 85
8 GBR 74 Lawrence CRISPIN 98
9 FRA 99 Marc ALLAIN DES BEAUVAIS 100
10 HUN 5 Tibor PALLAY 111