It has been a busy and successful few months for Uruguayan Finn sailor Alejandro Foglia. As well as joining the newly established Finn class development team FINNTEAM, he also became a Vice-President of the International Finn Association and to cap it off, qualified his country and himself for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Back in 2013, Foglia was one of the first recipients of Finn class funding to train at the Dinghy Academy in Valencia and says that was a crucial step for him to be able to reach his goal. “It is a big achievement. The Finn Class doesn’t exist in Uruguay and it was a completely new boat for me. Thanks to Luca Devoti and the Dinghy Academy I could make big steps in a short time to achieve my goal. To compete again in my fourth Olympic Games in this class is something very special and I am really looking forward to it.”
His qualification also makes him one of his country’s most outstanding athletes. “I am only the second athlete in the history of Uruguay to qualify for four Olympic Games, so this was something big, because Uruguay is a very small country of three million people, where the only big sport is football and the media talks only about football. Is also difficult to find funding to make a decent campaign. Very few private enterprises want to invest in individual sports.”
“The day I qualified for Rio 2016 there was some noise in Uruguay about me, and I made some interviews when I was there. The Federation doesn’t have the budget to support the sailors from Uruguay, but they help us to present our projects to the Government to get some funding from them.”
Foglia qualified for Rio at the 2015 Finn Gold Cup in Takapuna, last November. It was also a huge relief for the Uruguayan. “I really wanted to do the job in Takapuna and relax my head for the next year. Although before going to Takapuna I had to organise another boat to be shipped to the Sailing World Cup in Miami in case I didn’t qualify in New Zealand. Luca played a key role in this matter because he helped me to find another Fantastica to send with the Brazilian team to Miami. But it was a huge relief to qualify in Takapuna.”
“It is also very important for Uruguay because I am also only the fifth athlete to qualify in all sports, so it means a lot for me for all my family, my friends, my coaches and the people who support me in this career. Last year was a difficult year for me because I had two injuries and had to quit two major regattas, but I managed to come back to be strong and prove to myself that I can do it and be in the front with the top guys, so I am very happy with that.”
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Following the Gold Cup in Takapuna Foglia took a well-earned rest, “After a long season I like to make a big rest, to reset and start the Olympic year with full energy. I went with Simone Ferrarese and Victor Gorostegui to Bali to surf in the paradise. After that I went home to spend Christmas and New Year with my family and friends.”
“For 2016, with Luca Devoti, we made a plan to compete in three regattas, the Europeans (starting in Barcelona on March 4), Palma and Finn Gold Cup (in Gaeta, Italy). For training I will be in Valencia at the Dinghy Academy with the whole team. Luca is also organising a training regatta in Valencia from 18-20 February, just before the Europeans in Barcelona. Then the last three weeks in June and the first in July I will be training in Rio.”
As well as being a member of the FINNTEAM development programme, Foglia became the International Finn Class Vice President for Development in 2015 and will play a crucial role in developing the class worldwide.
The concept of the FINNTEAM is to create a team of sailors from around the world who are in need of coaching and funding to develop skills and train together, and then source the funding that allows each of them to succeed and achieve their goals. Its principal source of funding is a crowdfunding campaign set up on gofundme.com to raise awareness of the team and its needs.
Speaking of his new role, Foglia said, “I am very happy to develop the class to get more countries into the Finn. The FINNTEAM also needs more activation. It's been a bit quiet so far and we need to get more people involved in the crowdfunding to support these guys. The FINNTEAM is currently a group of five sailors who don't have much support to travel to events and buy equipment.”
The motto of the FINNTEAM is ONE TEAM, ONE DREAM, highlighting the multi-national teamwork that is at the core of the initiative.
To find out more and to support the FINNTEAM crowdfunding campaign please go to www.finnclass.org/team