Jan Orel (SLO) has a great story to tell. He is here this week in Aarhus competing in his first U23 Finn World Championship. While he is not that content with his performance so far he knows this is the start of a long journey, and for him a journey that got him back into sailing after an ‘unproductive’ period in his life out of the sport.

Coming from Izola, Slovenia, Jan Orel started his sailing journey at the age of six in the Optimist, and then continued through the Laser 4.7, Radial and Standard. He says, “None of this brought outstanding success, at least in my opinion. After that I had a long five-year pause from ‘serious’ sailing. That wasn't the smartest, or the most productive, period in my life. During this period I adopted a few really bad habits for my mental and physical health. I wasn't a person to look up to. 

But then he discovered Finn sailing. “At first I returned to sailing, in the Finn, just as a chance to get away from the mess I was in at that time.” It was something to keep him busy, but, “after my first Finn regatta on Lake Garda, in October 2015, I knew that sailing and competing in the Finn was what I wanted to do. I had found a meaning and a big goal in my life, something that I was lacking before.”

Orel loves the “...enormous physical and mentally demanding part” of Finn sailing but also found a very friendly welcome in the class, especially, “…the sailors and their fun and good-willed personalities, I absolutely adore. I feel good amongst these nice people.”

“There is no question that the Finn boat demands enormous amounts of physical and mental stamina, as well as great explosive power for the free pumping part on the downwind and the hiking part is, at times, pure suffering (in a good way). I've trained for swimming and basketball and neither of them have I found as nearly as hard (in as aspects) as sailing and competing in the Finn.”

He values the complete support of his family to enable him to become a competitive Finn sailor. “They have helped me in every way possible there is, for which I'll be grateful for the rest of my life. 
 My grandfather is my coach and has been there for me (as the rest of the family) for as long as I remember.
 For the most part, until now, I trained alone, with a bit of training with the Italian Finn sailor and my mate Mateo Savio.”

It is early days for the Slovenian, but he has made a plan to improve and reach his high goals. For the moment, he says gaining experience is the key component, and attending as many training camps regattas as possible. “I need to improve my downwind pumping. I'm really not very good at it now, and with that problem solved, I think my race results will get better really quickly.” He is also still at college studying, “so it will be a busy journey from now on.”

"I want to become the best version of myself as a sailor and as a whole persona. If I can achieve that I'll be able to pick my sailing results among the rising levels of competition. The current Finn sailors have a big potential, they are excellent sailors and will get better, like me.”

Orel has committed himself to the journey, and the ultimate goal of sailing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but added, “I don't have dreams, I have goals and Tokyo is definitely one of them. 
It is not really a goal, well it is in a way, but the part that is most important to me is that I make my family proud. That way I can repay their effort and help. 
For that I'll do everything needed to accomplish this ultimate goal of Finn sailing.




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