An outstanding display of sailing skills and athleticism

The Olympic Commission set up by ISAF delivered its preliminary report at the ISAF Conference in May 2010. Based largely on the Olympic Commission report, the ISAF Executive has since published two submissions which outline an exciting new future for the selection and decision making process for Olympic sailing events and equipment. The Finn is positioning itself to be part of that future.

Among the submissions are proposals for two sets of single-handed dinghies for both male and female sailors, to represent the weight and size distribution of modern youth of both genders in the most popular and low-cost type of dinghy sailing. The Finn class supports this idea.

This paper can be downloaded as a highly illustrated PDF here and is also featured in the November issue of FINNFARE. The full text of the submissions can be downloaded from the ISAF website.

 

Here are some of the arguments why Finn sailors think the Finn should remain part of the Olympic sailing equipment.
Tough challenge The Finn is widely regarded as one of the toughest physical challenges in sailing. Sailors have to be tough, strong, fit, agile and athletic, while managing the mental aspects of racing at the highest level. The current world champion has a VOR max comparable with marathon runners and cross country skiers. Winning takes dedication, commitment and performing at the limits of fitness and endurance.
Appealing racing visuals Modern looking rigs and hulls. Beautiful boat to sail with athletic, fit, muscular sailors. Requires extreme physical effort to sail well. Golden sail insignia for former world champions from 2011. Continuing research into sailor identification and country flags on sails. The free pumping rule has transformed downwind sailing into an absorbing display of skill, strength and athleticism.
Standard boats Finns can be bought ‘off-the-shelf’ and be winning the next day. Hulls, masts and sails have all evolved into a level plateau of standardisation that means boats can compete on a level playing field. The strict class rules limits any experimentation into ‘super’ boats. Boats that are sold year after year are identical within reasonable limits and do not change perceivably over time.
Low costs The Finn has one of the lowest running costs of any Olympic equipment. Average campaign costs from 35 sailors was just EUR 7,500 a year. One boat can last at least two Olympic cycles. Gear standardisation has meant reduced development costs. Gear is fast and ready to sail ‘out of the box’. Increasing IHC and building control is reducing regatta measurement requirements, while 99% of checks at regattas pass first time.
Consistent equipment

Today’s Finns are the most consistent, accurate and reliable Finns ever built. A modern Finn can be expected to be competitive for 6-8 years. The Finn is one of the most consistent hulls made today, thanks to very professional builders and strict measurement rules. Modern materials and new technologies means that boats supplied all over the world are as alike as possible in almost every way.

Easier rules A proposal was passed at the 2010 AGM to lower the free pumping limit to 10 knots. This was aimed to make Rule 42 enforcement easier for judges and sailors. Under 10 knots there are much less opportunities for pumping and surfing. Identifying illegal activity is much easier, so less emphasis on judging decisions. Sailors are educated in Rule 42 – frequent clinics with the active involvement of judges and website coverage.
Worldwide culture Local builders are producing low cost Finns for regional competition. Having been on the Olympic Programme since 1952, the Finn has the deepest culture and traditions of any dinghy class. Semi-professional class organisation oversees all activities. All levels of competition from Juniors (U21) to Masters (40+) and everything in between. Many countries are developing Junior programmes to fast track talented sailors.
Global spread Finns are now built in the UK, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Brazil, USA and South Africa, and there are other countries to come. Elsewhere, suppliers and dealers feed local fleets with new and used equipment. There are National Finn associations in more than 50 countries, while between 35 and 40 countries have internationally active sailors. Sailors from six continents attend major regattas. It is truly a global fleet.
Pinnacle event

The Finn is the pinnacle of singlehanded dinghy sailing for men, and the Olympics is the pinnacle event for the Finn. It provides a single step pathway from Optimist to Laser to Finn as the sailor’s weight increases, but also allows the development of similar technical and physical skills in the sailor through a natural progression of similar equipment.

 

What the sailors say:

Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN), 2006, 2009 World Champion, “The Finn is the most fun, challenging boat for strong, athletic sailors.”

Giorgio Poggi (ITA), 2008 Finn Olympian, “The Finn is the class where the sailor must be complete.”

Zach Railey (USA), Silver medalist, 2008 Olympics: "For single handed sailing the Finn is my only option given my weight and height to pursue my Olympic sailing dreams. With the technical and physical demands of the boat, the Finn is a pure test of a sailor's ability to react to the changing conditions on the race course under intense physical exertion."

Rob McMillan (AUS), “There is no other boat like it. The advent of free pumping brings a level of athleticism that is unique to the Finn.”

Daniel Birgmark (SWE), 4th 2008 Olympics, “Sailing the Finn puts very high demands on the sailors athletic capacity as well as tactical and strategic skills. It’s the perfect singlehander for sailors over 85kg.”

Tomas Vika (CZE), one of many Finn sailors in their early 20s, “If you are more than 180cm tall and you want to work on your physical condition in a gym you will always weigh more than 85kg and that is the reason why Finn has to stay as an Olympic dinghy in future years.”

Gus Miller (USA), Finn legend: “It’s a very powerful demanding boat and you need a lot of initiative and attitude that you’re going to do it yourself. Everyone realises the challenges is yourself not the other guys. The challenge is the boat and that understanding is the old idea “I love my competitor because he makes me better”. The guys here have enormous respect because the challenge of sailing the boat is so great. If one guy figures it out then the others guys are glad for him that he’s been able to do it.”

Caleb Paine (USA), first Junior, 2010 Finn Gold Cup: "The Finn is the best class I have sailed in. There isn’t I class I know of that has such a great sense of camaraderie. After my first international regatta I knew all the best Finn sailors in the world on a first name basis because they were open, friendly and supportive of the new kid. I think that this coherence of the class stems from the fact that the sailors often train together. This builds friendships as well as making everyone better."

Tapio Nirkko (FIN), 2008 Finn Olympian: "The Finn is already well developed in many areas. We’re now in a situation when all the Finn equipment (hull, mast, boom, rudders, centreboards) are good quality and last  a long time. When the market is competitive, the price of the equipment is also fair and resale value is good. That’s an important factor to make a competitive Olympic project from a small country with a small budget. Now the actions made in the class to make equipment issues more transparent is important to keep Finn as a class where it’s possible to make it to the top without having a monster budget."

Ed Wright (GBR), 2010 World Champion, on what makes the Finn class special for him: "For a start it’s visually pleasant. The cost is low. I still use my first mast and it’s still fast after five years. …. You can gain little advantages everywhere, but you have to treat the Finn with finesse, respect and grunt to keep it up to speed. The people in the class are great people and all hard competitors. Also there is so much history in the class, and never forget the many legends coming from the Finn."

 

Read more from these interviews and more about the Finn in the latest issue of FINNFARE out now

See Finns in action on San Francisco Bay on The FinnChannel

Download the PDF of this article here


 

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