U.S. Finns Emerge from 2019 Gold Cup with Stronger Unity and Focus for 2020

Luke Muller at the 2019 Finn Gold Cup; Credit: Robert Deaves

Final Report: U.S. Finns Emerge from 2019 Gold Cup with Stronger Unity and Focus for 2020

The 2019 Finn Gold Cup wrapped with what was probably the windiest day on Port Phillip. For the final races of the event, the athletes saw a southerly breeze at about 15-21 knots. The day began with the final fleet race for all teams outside the top ten and wrapped with the medal race featuring the competitors at the front of the pack.

Luke Muller (Fort Pierce, Fla.) and Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.) will end the event on a high note. Both athletes sailed in the front of the pack for both laps of the final race. US Sailing’s Olympic Head Coach, Luther Carpenter (Cypress, Texas), said, “Today was your classic physical kind of test with a long course, big waves, and windy conditions. They battled hard around the course.”

After some strong downwinds, Muller ended up fifth in the race and ranked 17th overall, third in the under 23 category. Meanwhile, Paine was quite fast out of the box and rounded the first windward mark in near the front. He finished the race in eighth and stands in 25th overall. Also representing the U.S., Eric Anderson (Chicago, Ill.) finished the final race in 32nd, ending up 42nd overall.

Though the overall scores aren’t what the U.S. contingent was hoping for coming into the event, Carpenter says the team has come away with valuable insight, “Clearly we didn’t perform our best event here. It was a part of our trials, and that wasn’t a huge focus of the regatta, but was likely floating around somewhere in their minds.”

As Carpenter mentioned, this event was one of three that will make up the Tokyo 2020 Sailing Olympic trials in the Finn class. Though it will obviously impact who will represent Team USA in this class, Carpenter and our US Sailing Team athletes are more focused on the bigger picture.

Carpenter continued, “Rolling forward, we know that we can’t go to the Games without fixing each of the challenges that Caleb and Luke have. I think knowing that will help create an even stronger team atmosphere. There are exciting new downwind techniques to work on together, the fitness side is something I’ve already set up in Miami, and we’ve got no time thinking about trials business. For either one of them to compete at the Olympics, we have to fix each of their weaknesses. So I think we’ll have a stronger working dynamic coming out of this experience.”

For now, the sailors are packing up and heading home to enjoy the holidays before hitting the campaign trail again in early January. “We’re looking forward to packing up the container and getting on some airplanes to catch the last round of eggnog before Christmas starts,” said Carpenter. After some well-deserved recovery time, the U.S. Finn squad will reunite in Miami to begin preparations for the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami.

Finn Gold Cup, U.S. Results:

  • 17th – Luke Muller, 26-10-22-8-19-24-26-33-14-5
  • 25th – Caleb Paine, 20-16-32-23-BFD-17-17-10-30-8
  • 42nd – Eric Anderson, 42-41-35-36-38-38-DNF-38-41-32

Regatta Information

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Updated: 12/21/2019

Day Five: U.S. Finns Identify Areas for Improvement for Tokyo 2020 Games

Each day in Melbourne has thrown different conditions and different challenges at the fleet of 60 Finns. The final day of the opening series brought another change with shifty northerlies and extremely high temperatures. The fleet launched after a short postponement into 13 to 18 knots of very hot wind. Though it was slightly cooler than the shore, which reached 111 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat took its toll on the fleet as two out of the schedules three races pushed the sailors to physical limits.

U.S. athletes continue to make progress around the course, but according to Olympic Head Coach, Luther Carpenter (Cypress, Texas), “We’re playing the game but still don’t quite have the staying power that we want all the way around the course.” US Sailing Team athlete Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.) sailed a solid first race, finishing in the top ten while Luke Muller (Fort Pierce, Fla.) was in the fight halfway up the first, beat but missed some shifts at the top.

In the second race, a massive left shift, which was opposite of what was forecasted, hit the course on the first upwind leg and the Americans rounded in 17th, 18th, and 19th at the top. Muller sailed a great downwind leg and solid second beat to end up in 14th. Paine, unfortunately, went to the right side on the final upwind, thinking the dying wind would be better near shore. Carpenter is looking forward to working on these areas to improve upon over the next few months. “No matter who goes to the Tokyo 2020 Games, they don’t want to go to the games with these kinds of holes in their quivers,” he said.

Muller and Paine are getting close in the standings, sitting in 20th and 24th, respectively. This event is a little less than half of what will make up the Tokyo 2020 Olympic trials in the Finn class. Carpenter thinks, “They are looking at the trials in the back of their minds, but really, the big picture is that we all just want to be sailing to our potential and be more competitive.” This event will provide information that Carpenter and the U.S. athletes can use to identify areas of improvement as the Finns train in these next six months that lead up to the Games.

U.S. sailors are looking forward to the upcoming months and tomorrow’s final day of racing at the 2019 Finn Gold Cup. So far, the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC) has been incredible hosts to the 23 countries represented at the event. Their exceptional hospitality was demonstrated by their response to today’s extreme temperatures. At the beginning of the day, the Race Committee made it clear that they were concerned for the sailors’ safety and would work to ensure athletes had means to cool down on the water.

When the athletes came in at the end of the day, RBYC waiters were waiting with frozen popsicles in trays and optimist dinghies filled with ice baths for the sailors to get in. Carpenter said, “RBYC is just an amazing club. This has been like no regatta you’ve ever seen. It’s got the grassroots feeling but they are 100% committed to cater to the sailors.”

Tomorrow, the sailors will enjoy their last day at the RBYC before packing up and heading home. One final fleet race is scheduled and will be followed by the medal race for the top 10 competitors. Racing is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m., local time.

Updated: 11/20/2019

Day Four: U.S. Athletes Aim to Close Opening Series on High Note

Sailors were greeted with perfect conditions for three more races in the opening series at the 2019 Finn Gold Cup. Today’s Seabreeze with oscillating shifts delivered 15-18 knots in the first race, while the second and third were a more moderate, 12-15 knots.

U.S. athletes had a tough day on the scoreboard. Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.) suffered an OCS penalty in the first race and Eric Anderson (Chicago, Ill.) broke his tiller extension in the final race of the day.

Despite the high point races, Olympic Head Coach, Luther Carpenter (Cypress Texas) says the U.S. athletes are making progress. “I’m not going to lie, we can do a lot better,” said Carpenter. He mentioned that Luke Muller’s (Fort Pierce, Fla.) technique on the downwind is looking strong and that the other two U.S. boats are pulling the pieces together around the course, “Today they started to put together solid starts and some smart beats.”

It continues to be super tactical racing on Port Phillip. With three races spent focusing on gaining an advantage in the long oscillating shifts and free pumping downwind all day, the sailors had a taxing day four.

Tomorrow’s conditions won’t be offering any breaks. The wind is forecasted to come from the land at an east-southeast direction. The athlete’s mental tenacity will be challenged by the hot wind coming off the desert and over the shore. Competitors are expecting high temperatures and shifty and puffy pressure. Velocity is forecasted at 10-15 tomorrow, well above the threshold for free pumping, which will make for a physically grueling day as well.

With two days left in the event, Carpenter is confident that the US Sailing Team can end the regatta on a high note, “It’s been a little bit of a painful event for us results-wise, but we’re evaluating what we’re doing here and will hopefully finish out the regatta with some single-digit races.”

Tomorrow, three more races are scheduled to round out the opening series before Saturday’s final race and medal race close the event.

Updated: 12/19/2019

Day Three: No Racing on Third Day of Finn Gold Cup as Melbourne Melts

The temperature in Melbourne is getting almost as hot as the competition at the Finn Gold Cup, but the lack of wind on the third day meant all racing was canceled mid-afternoon on Wednesday. Three races are now scheduled for Thursday.

New Zealand’s Josh Junior holds a 14-point lead after four races from Croatia’s Nenad Bugarin. Andy Maloney, from New Zealand, is one point behind Bugarin. A fleet of 60 Finns from 22 nations are competing to win the 2019 Finn world championship.

Melbourne turned on the heaters on Wednesday, reaching 40 degrees by the afternoon. There were successive postponements as the sailors sought shelter out of the heat in the great facilities of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club. Some found iced refreshments by the beach and some went swimming, but the wind did not come. At 15.00 AP over A was raised to abandon for the day.

Principal Race Officer, Mark Taylor said, “Faced with challenging forecast winds on a hot Melbourne day, the pressure never eventuated, and the race committee was forced to cancel all racing for the day with little likelihood of any better conditions during normal sailing times this evening.”

On tomorrow, “The forecast is looking more positive and sufficiently positive to not bring forward the start time, but hope to get three races in a southerly breeze, currently forecast at 10-15 knots.”

The 10 race opening series continues until Friday, with the final race and medal race scheduled for Saturday 21 December.

Updated: 12/18/2019

Day Two: Tricky Conditions Create a Game of Risk at Finn Gold Cup

On the second day of the 2019 Finn Gold Cup, the competitors were greeted by light, southwesterly winds on Port Phillip in Melbourne, Australia. With the actual conditions contradicting the forecasted southeast direction, sailors endured difficult decision making. Among the athletes navigating through the challenging conditions were U.S. representatives, Luke Muller (Fort Pierce, Fla.), Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.), and Eric Anderson (Chicago, Ill.).

Those who managed to stay conservative while still maximizing their opportunities to gain leverage on the rest of the fleet prevailed. According to US Sailing’s Olympic Head Coach, Luther Carpenter, (Cypress, Texas), “The course is so big and beats are so long, managing the leverage and risk is crucial.”

He continued and mentioned that all of the athletes struggled to find the right moments to make gains on the competition. “In the first race, Caleb went for a lot of leverage on the right side,” he said. “Of course, he looked good at one point, but then when the shift went the other way, it didn’t pan out well. So when he went for the win, he ended up rounding much further back. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges for this regatta, for everybody. The athletes are all learning to avoid getting suckered into playing a side really hard unless the whole fleet is there.”

On the whole, Carpenter is pleased with the progression of the US Sailing Team athletes. After posting a strong top ten finish Muller currently stands in 15th. Not too far behind, Paine follows in 24th. Eric Anderson, who currently stands in 40th, had some great moments and even rounded the top mark of the second race at the front of the fleet.

With the long upwind beats, come long downwind legs. These particular points of each race have provided some great learning opportunities for U.S. athletes. At the top of the fleet, Josh Junior (NZL) is dominating with a solid point gap thanks to his ability to make major gains on the downwind legs. Carpenter mentioned, “We’re learning a lot looking at Josh Junior’s techniques downwind. He’s got a whole other mode that others don’t have.”

Hopefully carrying some new lessons into tomorrow’s races, the sailors will be looking to put together a consistent day near the front of the fleet. At this event, if you can put together two single-digit finishes, you can move up the standings quite a bit. The U.S. will be looking to do just that, integrating their lessons in risk management and downwind techniques into tomorrow’s game plan.

Tomorrow could be especially challenging for all of the competitors. Forecasts indicate high temperatures and winds that are even less favorable than what was predicted for today. At the very least, these uncomfortable racing conditions do provide some practice for the hot weather that the US Sailing Team will have to endure next summer at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“It’s definitely good practice, but it’s been a little strange. It’s a different kind of grueling heat here,” said Carpenter. “The weather mark boat also has a very low reading on the anemometer, so they haven’t been doing free pumping when they frankly should be. So the sailors have been getting away with some easy times. Though, they were cooked by the end of the only race that did allow for free pumping.”

Barring any delays waiting on the breeze to fill, racing is scheduled to resume tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., local time.

Updated: 12/17/2019

Day One: U.S. Finn Sailors off to Solid Start in Opening Series of 2019 Gold Cup

Day one of the 2019 Finn Gold Cup began wet and overcast but improved through the day to leave a pleasant 8 to 12 knot breeze on Port Philip. By mid-afternoon, the competitors were met with clear skies, rising temperatures, and the first real taste of summer for many of the athletes.

After an hour-long delay to give the breeze a chance to fill in, the 60-boat fleet was on the water by 2 p.m. The first race started in a 9-12 knot southerly which later settled around 10 knots. The race committee was able to fire off two races for a solid opening day.

US Sailing Team athletes, Luke Muller (Fort Pierce, Fla.) and Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.), are currently tied for 15th, along with fellow competitor, Max Kohlhoff of Germany. Paine finished both races in the top twenty, giving him a solid starting point for the regatta and Muller ended the day on a strong note, finishing in the top ten. Also representing the U.S., Eric Anderson (Chicago, Ill.) is currently tied for 40th place.

With at least 10 races scheduled, the fleet has only scratched the surface of the opening series. There’s still a great deal of time to settle into what will become their overall positions in the standings. Over the next couple of days of racing, Muller, Paine, and Anderson will be looking to stay sharp in the oscillating pressure and power through long downwinds to get through the chop on Port Phillip.

The opening series continues until Friday, with the final race and medal race scheduled for Saturday, December 21.

Updated: 12/16/2019

U.S. Finn Athletes Line Up for the Last of the 2019 Olympic Class World Championships

On Monday, December 16, the last event of the 2019 Olympic class World Championships will begin with the 2019 Finn Gold Cup at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, in Melbourne, Australia. Three of the total 63 competitors will be representing the United States. Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.), Luke Muller (Fort Pierce, Fla.), and Eric Anderson (Chicago, Ill.) have been training hard in Melbourne over the past several weeks and are looking forward to this week’s racing in Melbourne.

The three U.S. athletes have been taking advantage of their time on the water to get familiar with the local conditions, which have been what Olympic Head Coach, Luther Carpenter (Cypress, Texas), dubs “classic Melbourne.” While the athletes have gotten a feel for the 12-23 knot winds with oscillating shifts, they’ve also been working on technique in fast-moving waves mixed with short, square chop that demand physical and technique-driven work.

However, similar to most of the major championships of 2019, it seems the forecasts for the upcoming week will shift to a warm and slow-building thermal most days. The southerly wind tends to take a while to fill in the massive Port Phillip Bay, and as the host site, Brighton, resides at the top of the bay, Carpenter thinks, “patience and anticipation will be the early skills to draw upon.” In anticipation of the slow-building thermal, the regatta schedule mimics the conditions with each first start scheduled for 1:00 p.m., local time, every day.

The U.S. athletes have been preparing for this event for a long time and are looking forward to making the most of the racing. Caleb Paine had a long, travel-filled season preparing for this event. He has been particularly determined to maximize his time on the water since August. Paine trained in Holland for over a month in the early fall, then spent time in Toronto, and finally set up shop here in Melbourne just before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. He’s looking forward to demonstrating the skills he’s been working on, “I know it’s time to deliver the focus and effort I know I’m capable of. It’s been great to really put the time in, and I look forward to getting out and racing.”

Paine’s fellow US Sailing Team athlete, Luke Muller, arrived in Australia in early November, to be surprised by cold temperatures and blustery conditions. He’s since seen the season change to the southern hemisphere’s early summer and looks forward to the regatta. “I am focused on keeping things simple and doing what I know in order to perform at the best of my abilities.”

Eric Anderson will be the third and final sailor to wear the American flag on his sail this week. He continues his mission of gaining as much experience as possible in the highly competitive Olympic class world. Anderson’s fitness and abilities have certainly peaked for this event, and he will look to finish in his personal best major Finn event.

All competitors have a long week ahead. The sailors and coaches are expecting the courses to be long with the wind delivering a variety of conditions. Long upwinds and constant pumping on endless waves will tire their bodies while anticipating opportunities to gain leverage in the oscillating shifts will test their mental endurance.

Carpenter looks forward to getting out there, sizing up the large racecourse, and getting a good feel for the Melbourne southerly. “The Royal Brighton Yacht Club has been an amazing host, the local population is thrilled to have has us here, and the competitors all look primed to get this party started!”

Racing is scheduled to begin on Monday, December 16 at 1:00 p.m., local time (GMT +11). Visit this page for daily updates on the U.S. athletes.

About the US Sailing Team 
The US Sailing Team is managed by the United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for the sport of sailing and sailboat racing. US Sailing names the top Olympic class athletes to the team annually, through both event qualification and at the discretion of team leadership. US Sailing helps these elite athletes with financial, logistical, coaching, technical, fitness, marketing and communications support. US Sailing Team sponsors include partners Kilroy Realty, Helly Hansen, Harken, McLube, Nimbix, Groupe Beneteau, and Marlow Ropes. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org/olympics.

About US Sailing 
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and advancement for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Bristol, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org.

Contact: Brittney Manning, US Sailing Team Press Officer
Email: OlympicCommunications@ussailing.org
Phone: +1 401 342 7926