The 2000 Finn Olympic Silver medallist, Luca Devoti, has had an enormous influence on Finn class development over the past 20 years both through building and selling Finns at Devoti Sailing Ltd through to coaching top sailors to many successes. Now his energies are being devoted to sailors at the Dinghy Academy in Valencia. He is also working in the background with the latest Finn Class development programme, the FINNTEAM, a multi-national team of Finn sailors launched in September 2015 to provide coaching, training, logistics and funding opportunities to a group of young guys with Olympic dreams.
He is always outspoken on what the Finn class stands for. “The Finn class has an amazing history. It has been the class of choice for many sailors for many years. The full immersion that the Finn requires to be mastered is a teacher for life for all those who have taken on the challenge. It’s not by chance the Finn is the oldest Olympic boat and it is still the toughest physical class.”
“In Olympic sailing, partly in order to maintain Olympic status, partly to promote the class and his values, FIDeS [the Finn class development and support programme] has been put in place. Historically the Finn class has always held clinics and aided developing nations. Gus Miller and his passion is one brilliant example.”
The Finn class development clinics and camps date back to 1976 when Gus Miller from the USA first started coaching sailors from developing and underfunded nations to give them the best experience of the Olympic regattas. Miller also coached Devoti along the way and some of that passion must have rubbed off, as it is now Devoti providing much of the materials, logistics and encouragement to the sailors that really need support to achieve their own dreams. The Finn class tradition of helping those who need it most continues to this day with the FINNTEAM being the latest evolution of a “shared excellence” approach to the ultimate sporting encounter.
“Myself, Roman Teply and Devoti Sailing have silently helped lots of sailors from developing countries, such as lending boats, giving massive discounts and all the possible support to sailors. At present the yard makes it possible for the Dinghy Academy to work by supplying free Finns and help to the training centre.”
“Lots of work has gone into preparing new young sailors and the class is gaining traction in South America with Uruguay and Argentina, it has the first Iranian sailor and is even helping developed nations that are struggling with their funding.”
The next goal for many on the road to Rio is the Finn Gold Cup in Takapuna in November, first just to be able get there and second to be able to perform well enough to qualify their country for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
“The Finn Gold Cup in New Zealand, the regional qualifying system with racing in China, Europe, Miami, as well as the Olympics in Rio require lots of resources. Sailors that have been training all year cannot go to the events because of lack of funding. More than one Finn is needed for each sailor to keep on fighting for the Olympic qualifier...that is why the class has started the crowdfunding campaign.”
“I will continue helping the guys silently as much as I can, but any other help we can attract will even up the playing field giving even more new nations the chance to join the fight for Rio and Tokyo.”
“In my life the Finn means a lot, and it has taught me a lot. The Olympic status is a very important part of it....that is why if you can help the class and the FIDeS programme you’ll help the Finn to continue being what it is: the best sailing fighting competing machine ever made!”
“New training centres are about to be established all over the world, and these ones are not by me. When young sailors join the programme they are instantly hooked and love the challenge, learn the hard way that discipline and constant effort are the key ingredients. The economical crisis has reduced the chance for a lot of them to live their passion, while at the same time has allowed some to earn immense amounts of money. Right now a lot of nations are fighting for the spots for Rio – a surprisingly small amount of spots for a class with so many real active nations....but that is another story altogether.”
The FINNTEAM Crowdfunding campaign was launched last week, as part of a wider fund-raising programme, and has received global interest through the world’s sailing media. It’s still early days, but it has a long way to go to meets its goals. Devoti calls on those who learned about life and sailing from the Finn to consider giving something back.
“If any of the really rich sailors read this ...why not buy into a piece of Finn paradise by helping these young hopefuls? And if any of the less rich do it also...they might end up sailing beautiful Finns...in the afterlife too!...long live the Finn!”
You can find the Crowdfunding campaign here: www.gofundme.com/finnteam
The team website is here: www.finnclass.org/team