Coastlines around the country dream of lapping up international sailing talent and the vibrant Cornish town of Falmouth, with its spirit of the sea, is excited to be doing just that. In little over two months’ time the first Olympic class sailing regatta held in the UK during 2012, The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Finn Festival, is set to make a splash on Falmouth’s shores. The Festival includes the annual UK Open Finn National Championships 4 – 7 May followed by the Finn Gold Cup 13 – 18 May, the annual World Championships for the Finn Class.
The Nationals and Gold Cup are already attracting an impressive list of entries; 106 entry codes have been requested and issued to 25 nations. Entries have been received from Australia, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine and USA. Highlights include Beijing Olympic silver medallist Zach Railey (USA), runner up from the World Championships in Perth last December Pieter Jan Postma (NED) and current European and World Champion Giles Scott (GBR).
Zach Railey spoke about the competition, “It’s a big fleet racing in the Finn Gold Cup and being the World Championships you always want to perform and do your best, so I will be looking forward to sailing against all the best Finn sailors in the World. I will also be using it to evaluate the last adjustments that need to be made leading into the London Olympics, really looking at what small changes I need to make and how I am measuring up against the competition I will be facing a few months after.
The Gold Cup has a lot of history and is an extremely hard regatta both physically and mentally. It is a true test of yourself against the best in the World and that’s why I race at this level because I love the competition”
The Gold Cup will be the final Finn Class selection for both sailors and nations seeking to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics, and a fleet of up to 100 boat entries is expected. At the end of the regatta, the 25 representatives for the Finn Class for the Olympic Games 2012 will be confirmed.
The majority of entries for the Gold Cup have also entered the UK Open Nationals. The annual UK Open Finn National Championships are open to all nationalities and will be contested by a fleet of 80 highly skilled competitors with a chance this year to compete against some of the world’s best sailors, honing their skills ahead of the Gold Cup.
Andy Denison from the British Finn Association elaborated on this year’s events, “The Finn Gold Cup and UK Open Nationals are commanding a great deal of national and international interest, so much so, that a capping will be put on the Nationals entries at 120 boats. The last UK based Gold Cup was Weymouth 2000 and the nationals attracted 85 entries.
The Falmouth team had a vision that they put into action some 4 years ago and this will without doubt re energise and establish a solid foundation for Finn sailing in the UK. Our sincere thanks go to JP Morgan Asset Management and Royal Cornwall Yacht Club for their sponsorship and support”
There will also be an Emerging Nation’s clinic held between the UK Open Nationals and the Gold Cup as part of an initiative to expand Finn sailing to new countries.
The International Finn Association (IFA) will be running the clinic for six emerging nations to improve their sailing abilities in order to enter the Gold Cup. The Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, in conjunction with the IFA, will be providing six free boats and the club members will be providing accommodation and food free of charge. The hope is to encourage countries that don’t have the resources for training to be able to compete in the Gold Cup and eventually qualify for the Olympics.
“Traditionally, the Finn clinic is organised every year and on an Olympic year we try to provide equipment for the Olympic qualifier. In 2008, the programme helped a sailor from Venezuela to sail in the Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne and later get a spot at the Olympics.” Corinne McKenzie, IFA.
To secure the Finn Gold Cup in an Olympic year was quite an achievement for Falmouth and a number of factors contributed to the selection. Primarily, Falmouth has some of the best sailing waters in Europe with Falmouth Bay acting as a natural amphitheatre, predictable tides and a prevailing south-westerly wind, which allows for safe and exciting racing. The other factor was The Royal Cornwall Yacht Club and the other members of Port of Falmouth Sailing Association have a vast depth of knowledge and experience in running world class sailing events, from dinghies to sports boats and large ocean going sailing vessels. And, National Maritime Museum Cornwall provided the corporate facilities and support the press require.
Robin Taylor, Event Director explains, “This wealth of knowledge allows the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club to run such esteemed events and utilise the infrastructure in the Falmouth area. We have a large hospitality presence including top class hotels, restaurants, camping sites and holiday cottages as well as a deep water port with handling facilities for all types of vessels. Cornwall in itself is a major attraction and with improved rail, air and road infrastructure we are easily accessible from all major gateways in the United Kingdom. All these factors combined to make Falmouth an outstanding choice to run the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Finn Festival”
With three more sponsors on board, Volvo Car UK, Gul Performance Apparel and St Michael’s Hotel & Spa, the festival goes from strength to strength. Nigel Carpenter, Proprietor of St Michael’s Hotel & Spa, Falmouth, spoke about their ties with the event,
“St Michael’s Hotel & Spa is delighted to be a sponsor of the JP Morgan Asset Management Finn Festival. Falmouth has an exciting calendar of events this year and this sailing festival is definitely one of the highlights. We have created a number of short breaks for the festival, including a special Gym Membership offer exclusively for the competitors and spectators. This year with the Olympics hanging in the balance for the competitors, it is sure to be a great event.”Event website: www.falmouthfinnfestival.com