“I was completely waterlogged. My lungs were full of water. I had given up,” says Gerardo Seeliger of that fateful day on Dublin Bay when his Finn came a cropper in high winds.
However, much like Australia’s Simon Hoffman and Spain’s Santiago Alegre went to Durcan’s rescue, Seeliger owes his own life to Hungarian Finn sailor György Fináczy — who had spotted the Spaniard’s upturned hull and abandoned his own race to pull him out of the water.
Back then, Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain, placing restrictions on its citizens’ travel abroad. That meant Fináczy was unable to receive the special prize for good sportsmanship from the Spanish Olympic committee as nominated by Seeliger.
However, sailing competitions were an exception — prompting the inaugural Palamos Christmas Race, which started with just Seeliger and Fináczy but soon grew into one of the world’s premier Finn class events.
It’s 47 years since that dramatic day in Dun Laoghaire, and both Seeliger and Fináczy have since become legends in their class. This week they met for the first time in 30 years at the Finn Gold Cup in Hungary, where Baltimore’s Fionn Lyden and Donaghadee’s Oisin McClelland, at 44th and 49th respectively overall, are battling for position going into day five.