Please select your home edition
Edition
SailingClothingBargains.com 728x90

Big steaks as Finn sailors beef up for tough season

by Robert Deaves 8 Feb 16:02 GMT
Finn class © Robert Deaves

The Finn – THE classic power dinghy – was designed to test the best individual sailor at the Olympic Games. This thoroughly modern, but endearingly classic dinghy has been successfully doing that through 17 Olympics and is heading towards its 18th in Tokyo 2020.

With just under 900 days to go, the 2018 season is inexorably heading towards the first 2020 Olympic qualification event, at the world championship in Aarhus in August. This is the main objective for most sailors this year on the increasingly narrow and tortuous trail to Tokyo.

The European season begins next week with around 50 Finns taking part in the Semaine Internationale De Cannes, the traditional icebreaker for the season. However, many top sailors are already in Cádiz training for the European Championship, which has attracted nearly 100 entries so far – a level that has become the norm in recent years. It begins on March 9, and is preceded by the Andalusian Olympic Week.

By the conclusion of the Europeans we should have an indication of who has done their winter homework and whether any of the new young protagonists have made the leap to rock star status. Various training groups have been active in many parts throughout the winter, in Auckland, Athens, Cádiz, and of course Valencia. The steaks are bigger, and higher, than usual this year as the sailors beef up for the tough season ahead.

The other high points of the season will be the amazingly successful Finn World Masters, which this year heads back to Spain, at El Bális, near Barcelona, and the U23 World Championship, in Koper, Slovenia, the country’s first ever major Finn Championship. This wide spectrum of youth and experience is a perfect illustration of the remarkable spread and diversity of the class. Finn sailing really is a sport for life.

With only 19 spots available in Tokyo, competition will be intense. Fifteen of the 23 sailors who took part in Rio are now on the campaign trail and have their sights set on the land of the rising sun in two years time. Of one thing we can be sure, it is going to be a gruesome battle to determine those places, and Finn sailors are not pretty when their backs are against the wall. Classic Finn competition.

Power

Today’s Finn sailors are becoming more powerful, more adaptable and more astute than ever before. They need to be, because the level is rising all the time. The return of the 2016 Olympic Champion, Giles Scott, in Miami a few weeks ago, and his inevitable win, has thrown down the gauntlet to the fleet to step up to the mark and challenge him for class supremacy.

Even in the 18 months since Rio, technique has moved on and sailors are trying out new ideas. The advent of free pumping was a eureka moment for the class. Suddenly the sailors could use their immense power and strength to enjoy the Finn to the full, for sailing the boat downwind in a breeze is a powerful experience. With the class now experimenting with dropping the wind limit for free pumping from 10 to 8 knots, as it was dropped from 12 to 10 knots in 2010, it is evidence enough of the vastly increased fitness and athletic ability of the top of the fleet. It is pushing the sailors to the extreme of what the body can take, testing and challenging every minute of preparation.

In any sort of breeze, the Finn requires enormous physical capabilities and huge power and strength reserves to be able to drive the boat at maximum speed for the duration of the race. The better you get at it, the easier it becomes, but the fundamental requirement is power. Lots of it.

Evolution, not revolution

Of course, like the sailors, the Finn itself has also evolved. Materials have improved, fittings have improved, rigs are space age compared to the wooden masts and cotton sails first used. The boat has evolved, without losing anything of its original spirit. But, from wood to fibreglass and carbon, and from cotton to Kevlar, the sailors remain some of the best and the most powerful athletes in the sport of sailing. Classic Finn tradition.

The Finn became a classic dinghy before many of the current top sailors were sparkles in their father’s eyes, but it has kept pace with the times. It has some of the strictest equipment control rules in the sport of sailing. While these rules do not make every boat identical, they do make sure every boat is a Finn within the strict building tolerances laid down by the designer, Rickard Sarby, seven decades ago.

The famous seaworthiness of the boat allows race organisers to run races for the Finn even in extreme wind and wave conditions. A good example of that was the exceptionally tough medal race at the 2008 Olympics in Qingdao, as well as two days in Rio in 2016, when the Finn fleet was one of the few fleets allowed onto the open ocean on the big wind days. Those two days outside Guanabara Bay provided some of the most spectacular and dramatic sailing footage and images ever seen by viewers of the Olympics.

The shape used today, is, give or take the tolerances, the same shape that Sarby drew all those years ago. Over those decades, the class has embraced new technologies both for construction and materials, but also for controlling construction and materials, while maintaining the integrity of the original concept. The swing test introduced by Gilbert Lamboley in the 1970s was a revolution in keeping boats as alike as possible.

In fact the Finn rules, combined with the dedication and expertise of the Finn equipment manufacturers, has enabled the production of almost identical boats, and within any production line of Finns, the boats are more alike than perhaps any other class.

But that is only half the story; the tolerances in the boat and the adaptable rig enable a hugely diverse group of people to race on even terms. There is no need to be a certain weight or a certain height – though certainly the upper range of either would help – as the rig can be modified to suit a sailor’s style and physical traits so he can sail as fast as the guy in the next boat. That’s easy in theory, but hard in practice, and that is a large part of the challenge, and the attraction, of the Finn.

Throughout the coming year we will again be bringing you the sailor’s stories, of the successes and the defeats, and the trials and tribulations of a group of elite athletes sailing a classic power dinghy with one thing on their minds. Timeless Finn ambition.

Land Rover BAR Cap
REPORT OF THE MONTH SPONSORED BY Report of the Month sponsored by Henri Lloyd Nominate this article for report of the month for your chance to WIN a Land Rover BAR Cap for yourself and the author of the report that receives the most votes. Just fill in the form below!
Your name

Your email address

Why do you like this report?



Related Articles

Analysing weight distribution of Finn sailors
Extensive set of morphological and physiological data collected Over the past few years the Finn Class has collected an extensive set of morphological and physiological data on its sailors and perhaps the main talking point is always the weight of sailors. Posted on 17 Feb
Sustainability and environmental objectives
The objectives are simple, minimise the impact of events on the local environment To coincide with the start of the 2018 European sailing season, the Finn Class is pleased to announce the beginnings of an environmental and sustainability agenda that could impact on its events and sailors Posted on 13 Feb
Aussie sailors heading for Medemblik Regatta
Making a big effort to come to Holland in May For Finn sailor Lilley it's already the third time he's participating in the Dutch regatta. Laser Radial sailor Ainsworth is traveling to Medemblik for the first time. Posted on 9 Feb
The break that put Lewis on heavyweight path
Taking to the Finn class like a fish to water Lewis Brake spent three years as an Australian Squad 49er sailor, training with Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen. But after stepping away from the sport, during which he bulked up at the gym, good friend Jake Lilley Posted on 7 Feb
A windy start to the RYA Olympic Spring Series
39 boats and boards took to the water in Weymouth and Portland Sailors were greeted with a wintry and cold forecast and very little wind on Saturday morning. With the wind set to build, racing was postponed until the conditions became more settled. Posted on 6 Feb
Trofeo Princesa Sofía at Palma de Mallorca preview
Around 1000 sailors from over 50 nations expected to participate The Spanish sailing event is the first International Olympic class's event in the European calendar and therefore gathers together a high number of teams trying to qualify for Tokyo 2020. Posted on 2 Feb
World Cup Miami, VOR, 2017 US Sailing Rolex awards
World Cup Series Miami, VOR inshore update, 2017 US Sailing Rolex awards If one's goal involves winning an Olympic medal, the road ahead is long, arduous and filled with intense international competition simply to qualify for a country berth to the Games. Posted on 29 Jan
World Cup Series Miami final day
Paine put himself in a difficult spot when his start didn't quite go as planned Paine started the Medal Race needing to place one boat between himself and Alican Kaynar (TUR) to move from third to second in the overall standings, while also not letting Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) finish too far ahead. Posted on 29 Jan
The king is back
Finn focus at World Cup Series Miami Olympic gold medalist Giles Scott confirmed he is still the king of the Finn class with an emphatic win in the medal race at the World Cup Series event in Miami today to take the gold by 32 points. Posted on 29 Jan
Golden haul for Australia at World Cup Miami
Reminding the world it remains a major power in sailing Australia has reminded the world it remains a major power in sailing after Olympic gold medallist Tom Burton took out the Laser class title at the World Cup Series in Miami Posted on 29 Jan