Grand Prix Sailing – fans of foiling

Finn Class Olympic Medal Predictions

 

Finn Class at the 2012 Olympic Games – 25 boats

 

Ben Ainslie – Hot favourite for fourth gold – c jesus renedo

 

Britain’s Ben Ainslie stands on the cusp of becoming the most successful Olympic sailor ever. If he is successful in clinching a fourth gold medal he would even surpass the ‘great dane’ Paul Elvstrom who competed in 8 Olympic Games winning 4 consecutive golds between 1948 – 1060. Ainslie would also rise above Jochen Schümann who also holds 3 golds and a silver. 

Bens biggest rival for the last 2 years has been fellow countryman, Giles Scott who won the 2011 Finn Gold Cup and more recently beat Ben in the Finn Nationals in Falmouth in the UK. Giles also scored an amazing 7 bullets at SFG at Weymouth and Portland to pulverise the opposition including Ainslie.

However with only one nation qualification per class, Ainslie was chosen as the British Finn representative. It is arguably the case that GBR could fill the podium if this was not the case with a third Finn Gold Cup winner in Ed Wright.

Apart from Scott, Ainslie has dominated the top grade Finn regattas with a very impressive 6th Finn Gold Cup victory in Falmouth were he literally blew away the competition with a string of bullets in big breeze and waves. Notably Giles Scott was not competing, he was racing the AC45 in the Americas Cup World Series.

 

 

 

PJ Postma 2nd in Perth 2011 – c Richard Langdon

 

So who can rain on Bens parade? There is a host of top Finn sailors who could challenge for a medal. If the breeze is up PJ Postma from the Netherlands is consistent and can push Ben hard. He got silver in the Perth 2011 Worlds a point adrift of Scott and bronze at the recent SFG at the Olympic venue.

Ivan Gaspic of Croatia is a fit solid performer regularly finishing at the top end of the fleet. Another solid performer is Zach Railey (USA) who claimed silver in Beijing 2008 and almost a dead cert to be in the medal race finalists at major regattas.

 

 

Ivan Gaspic a warm chance of a podium place – c Richard Langdon

 

Jonas Hogh Christesen another previous world champion took a break from the class and came back with some fine form and a bronze at the 2012 Gold Cup in Falmouth. Rafa Trujillo of Spain should feature in the hunt for medals but has suffered with some speed problems in recent regattas.

Other sailors with an outside chance of medals include Jonathan Lobert (FRA), Dan Slater (NZL) and Daniel Birgmark (SWE).

 

Jonny’s predictions:

 Gold: Ben Ainslie (GBR)

Silver: PJ Postma (NED)

Bronze: Ivan Gaspic (CRO)

Zach Railey – living the dream

 

Finn Class Interview by Robert Deaves:

Zach Railey – living the dream

In the first of a series of interviews with the top Finn sailors heading into the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, Robert Deaves talks to Zach Railey the Silver medalist from the 2008 Olympics.

Going into the 2008 Olympics Zach Railey was a relative unknown. He was one of the newest sailors in the class and was not really expected to win a medal. However his consistency in the early days left him leading the regatta and he was suddenly the centre of attention. As the event closed out he held his cool despite being match raced out of the first attempt to get the medal race away by the eventual Gold medalist Ben Ainslie. Zach eventually took Silver a day later when it was re-sailed in strong winds and big seas. It was a day that changed his life, and the realisation of an ambition that started when he was 12.

Now, four years later he is the US Team Captain and a role model for a generation of young sailors. He started sailing at age eight, following a suggestion from his family dentist to try summer sailing classes. Sailing Optimists until he was almost 13 he switched to the Radial and then the Laser, but outgrew each boat in turn. Then Chris Cook (CAN) asked Zach to sail with him one day in a Finn and he has been hooked ever since.

Last time around the US Olympic trials was a single winner-takes-all regatta. Like many elements of the new US approach to Olympic sailing, the trials system has radically changed, and this time around major regattas were used as indicators. “I like the new format as it measures you against the international competition you will race against at the Olympics. It also allows you to continue on the Olympic circuit without having to come home and concentrate on a trials event in the middle of the season. Overall, I think this was a huge success and I think it should be the way forward for our qualifications for 2016 and beyond. There may have to be some different regattas used next time but the general idea is a huge success.”

While winning the Silver in China was a massive achievement by any standards, bettering that colour in Weymouth is an even bigger ask, yet Zach is never negative about his chances and always focusses on what he is able to control.

“It is a big ask to qualify for the Olympics let alone then medal or win. This is hard and you are competing against the best in the world. That being said I am confident in my abilities and confident in the training and planning that has gone into the last four years. These are the best Finn sailors in the world going head to head at their best and that is the exact situation I want to put myself into and see where I come out in the end. It is the ultimate test and I can’t wait for it to begin.”

I race every race from a clean slate. I do not worry about the end result until the regatta takes me there. My job is to go out and post the best results that I can in each race and see how the regatta unfolds. Every event is different and there is no way to predict what will happen so I worry about me and let the results speak for themselves. If I am beaten by someone because they were better than I was, I can accept that, but I cannot accept beating myself.”

“The athletes always get better and better and smarter and smarter. It is amazing the progress you see over just a four year period. You have to constantly keep making improvements or you get left behind. I think physically this four years has been a huge difference as I am now almost 40 pounds heavier than when I was in China. That has taken a lot of work and I am very proud of getting my body ready for the conditions in Weymouth.. I also think the addition of the free pumping rule to 10 knots has made the boat much more physically gruelling and has really pushed the class forward in terms of a true athletic test.”

Over the last four years Zach has matured as a Finn sailor and has achieved a resonable level of success on the circuit. A year after the Olympic medal he took another silver, this time at the Finn God Cup in Copenhagen, and very nearly won the world title. Over the last two years he has picked up several medals including a silver at Hyeres in 2011 and a silver at Palma earlier this year. He also took gold, albeit in a smaller fleet at Miami this year. Top 10 places at the last four world championships is evidence enough that he is a force to be reckoned with, as well as being a record that not many other Finn sailors in Weymouth can match.

“I like to challenge myself. For me that means sailing against the best and trying to beat the best. For sailing that means the Olympics, Volvo Ocean Race or the America’s Cup. I fell in love with the Olympics in 1996 when Atlanta hosted the Olympic Games. I was 12 years old and remember watching Michael Johnson win the 200 meters on TV and thought one day I could be there. I’m living the dream right now.”

“You have to be very dedicated to do an Olympic campaign, so dedicated that most people see it as being selfish. I don’t think of myself as selfish but as a person who has a dream and knows that there are people out there who will help me achieve my dream. I know that I have given up so much to get to this point but I am perfectly content with the decision to do so because I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to do with my life.”

“I know that most people will not understand why you would sacrifice so much but I have a great support system and they sometimes don’t understand it themselves, but they will always stand by me no matter what sacrifices have to be made. One of my favourite quotes is: “Talent is common. Disciplined talent is rare”I believe that I am a very disciplined person.”

What about the sacrifices? “My personal life has taken the biggest toll. I have an amazing family who are incredibly supportive of what I do, and also what my sister Paige does, and we have both made it to the Olympics in 2012 because of our family support system. The number of relationships lost over the years because of being gone, doing so much training and travelling are too many to count but I would change nothing, it’s all worth it, and those who have been there for the long haul are truly special to me.”

Did winning an Olympic medal in 2008 change his life? “It certainly brought a lot more attention to me after 2008. That took some time for me to adjust to afterwards. I think the greatest thing about it was the opportunities I was given to achieve some none sailing goals like the OliviaLives Charity (OliviaLives.com) which is a huge accomplishment for Paige, myself, our entire family and all of the supporters who help make it a success. “

“Also, becoming a role model for younger sailors to show them that they can do exactly what I have done. Expectations, of course, have gone up and you accept that as part of the territory.”

In 2008 Zach was famously sailed out of the first attempt at the medal race in very light winds by a ruthless Ben Ainslie. They were both way behind the fleet when it was finally abandoned. When it was re-sailed in strong winds, it was easier for Zach to sail his own race and secure the Silver. Did he learn anything that will help in 2012? “I think the biggest lesson from the experience is to always to be prepared for any situation.”

Getting the gear right is a crucial part of winning in the Finn as the rig can be tailored around particular body weights and sailing styles.“This is an area where I really learned a lot over the past four years. With my big weight change and the difference in my strength and techniques we changed my gear, but they are small changes like having a little bit stiffer mast in some areas. It is nothing that the other competitors have not done themselves.”

“Most of it had to do with my weight gain and getting the correct bend in the mast to support the weight and strength I had added and then matching the sail to that mast. My gear in 2008 was for when I weighed 185 pounds and was for a light air venue. Now I am much larger and Weymouth is a very different venue so we needed to add some more strength to my equipment and power in the rig.”

The last four years has also seen the introduction of free pumping on offwind legs in winds over 10 knots and this has changed the game a bit, favouring the tall, athletic sailors. Has there been a change in rig design or sail shape brought on by the free pumping rule? “I do not think there has been a change because of the pumping rule with equipment, but physically it’s been a huge development of maintaining power while increasing your cardiovascular capacity. It’s very hard to maintain both correctly and we have worked hard to get where I am at today.”

At a venue like Weymouth with many different conditions, how do you select the right gear? “Great question and I wish I knew 100% the answer. I think you need to develop your gear for what conditions are most likely to be present but not totally specialise them in case there are a few days that are different. So you go with an all around set-up. Weymouth could be anything – we have seen it all there – but compared to China in 2008 it is a much windier and colder venue.”

Does he have any rituals or superstitions when racing? “I do have a few that mostly go back a long way. I always wear a University of Miami hat, I listen to the same song before going on the water, which no one knows not even my family and lastly I will not shave during a regatta except for the night before the medal race. So I guess I am superstitious but they are fun.”

What’s planned after the Olympics? “I am really interested in the Volvo Ocean Race and want to do some more offshore sailing after the Olympics. Of course, the America’s Cup has always been a dream and we will see if an opportunity presents itself there in the future. My big three in sailing have always been Olympics, Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup. After 2012, we will see which one of those three I put my efforts toward but for now its all about the Olympics.”

And Finn sailing? “I love the Finn and I will always have one for sure and compete at events. As for doing another campaign in the Finn…”

When asked to pick three favourites for a medal? “This one is hard. I really think that there are about 10 guys who can make it happen and be on the podium. To narrow it down to three is what the Olympics will tell us. Ask me again on August 6th.”

And finally, what are you looking forward to the most over the next few weeks? “Walking into the Opening Ceremony with my sister Paige. We have been dreaming of that moment since we were little kids. It’s going to be a very special moment for both of us.”

You can also follow Zach on his website at: www.zach2012.com or his Twitter feed: @zachsail.

 

Photos: Robert Deaves/Finn Class

Coastal Race stretches the legs

 

 

31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre – Coastal Race

Mini Maxis reaching in superb conditions in the Coastal Race – c Jesus Renado

 

The 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre crossed its own equator in the bay of Palma, with a 25 miles coastal race which confirmed RÁN and Audi Azzurra, Swanderful and Powerplate as the current leaders in IRC and RI respectively.

The rest of the divisions completed two windward-leeward races which brought changes to the J-80 class scoring board, where Mapfre loses first position to Nextel, whereas Alegre remains first in Soto 40, and Hotelplan – Spirit of Nerina increases her lead in the X-35 class.

Unlike previous years, this edition’s coastal race scored just one point, and there was no scoring mark in the course. As no discard applied for this year’s long course either, teams in the IRC and RI divisions couldn’t risk a bad result. Conditions were perfect as the start gun was fired, with a nice Southerly breeze reaching 15 to 18 knots.

82 footer Highland Fling XI was the first mini-maxi to cross the finish line, but ended up third after times were corrected. The final winner was George Sakellaris’ Shockwave, followed by RÁN of Niklas Zennstrom, who spent much of the race side by side. RÁN remains overall leader in IRC 0.

 

Jochen Schuemann’s Audi All4One scored one point by winning the coastal race in the IRC 2 division, which, together with Gladiator’s fourth place helps the French-German team climb to third position in the overall classification after five races. Guillermo Parada’s Audi Azzurra Sailing Team chased All4One all the way to the finish flying a reaching kite on the final leg, as opposed to the standard assymetric onboard the red boat. The blue boat closed to within 50 metres of All4One on the fetch to the finish line. Audi Azzurra is the current leader after her second position today, followed by Power Play, which was third. Stephane Neve’s Paprec, which started the regatta in first position, seems to have lost momentum and is now fifth in the scoring board.

With a 19 second advantage over Chuni Bermúdez skippered Swanderful at the finish line, Grupo Clínico Luis Senís snatched victory in the RI1 coastal race, but the former remains leader of her division, and sees her advantage over Earlybird and Rats of Fire -second and third overall overall classified respectively- increased to 6 and 8 points.

 

In the Soto 40 division, the first race of the day saw Iberdrola pull off a perfect performance dominating the first windward-leeward set up from beginning to end, performing considerably better starts than yesterday. Alegre was hot on their heels but Pichu Torcida finally scored the victory. Further behind Spanish Noticia IV crossed third. The second race of the day was won by Alegre after Ibedrola missed a wind shift in the first upwind leg, that leaves them first and second respectively in the overall leader board just 4 points apart.

Ignacio Camino’s Nextel Engineering’s perfect show on the water today with two back-to-back buttets catapults the team to the top spot in the J-80 division. Mapfre managed two second places and is now tied in 13 points with Camino, whereas Olympic sailor José María van der Plough loses ground after being over the line in the last race, in spite of which he managed to cross the finish line in third position, and remains third in the overall classification.

 

As far as the X-35 are concerned, Hotelplan – Spirit of Nerina stands out as clear favourite for overall victory thanks to a third and a first place which helps her increase her advantage over Margherita and Audi Ultra.

Tomorrow all the classes will meet on the water again for two windward-leeward races in the Bay of Palma. Following the race instructions, discards will apply as from race eight except for the Soto 40 class which will not be able to discard any result.

For full results visit: www.prensarcnp.es/copa10/principal/index_uk.php

 

 

RÁN and Audi Azzurra take the lead

Day 2 – 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre in Palma de Mallorca

Strong and unexpected southerly winds in the bay of Palma helped RÁN increase her advantage at the top of the scoreboard to lead IRC 0 division, whilst Audi Azzurra Sailing Team’s two wins in as many races lifts them to first position in IRC 1. On Wednesday both divisions run their coastal race, whilst the rest of the fleets stay in the Bay of Palma for more windward-leeward racing.

The Bay of Palma delivered yet another day of fantastic conditions in spite of a not so optimistic wind forecast. The locally known Garbi picked up progressively reaching 18 – 20 knots. This allowed the fleet to display a fantastic show on the water, which saw several spinnakers blown under the unexpected wind pressure.

Boosted by the conditions, the largest boats of the fleet,  running in the IRC 0 division, managed to finish the day’s two races in less than an hour each. Niklas Zennstrom’s majestic RÁN’s two wins allows her to open a gap of seven points in the general classification over second qualified Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, which was second and third today. George Sakellaris USA flagged Shockwave scored the other way around with a third and second. As far as Irvine Laidlaw’s Highland Fling XI is concerned, the 82 footer, the largest vessel of the fleet, is unable to perform on the short courses, recording a fifth and a fourth place today.


Racing in the IRC 1 division turned into a match race between Alberto Roemmers’ Audi Azzurra Sailing Team and Jochen Schumann’s German All4One. A very good start by the Italian-Argentinean TP52 allowed her to round the first top mark first, closely followed by All4One. The risky tactics called by Jordi Calafat onboard All4One on the last run lost her third position to  Gladiator (GBR). The second race of the day turned out to be even worse for Schumann’s crew, who crossed the finish line in  sixth position, loosing their spot on the podium. First in the overall classification after four races is Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, followed by Tony Langley’s Gladiator and Peter Cunningham’s Powerplay (CAY).

The Soto 40’s made their debut in the 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre running in their own division, and delivered some surprises. Andy Soriano’s Allegre controlled the day’s two races from beginning to end, whereas the Soto 40 European Championship’s current leader Ngoni started on the wrong foot, as did the Spanish boat Iberdrola. The José María Torcida skippered 40 footer tried to hit the line at the pin end but was left with no space. Nevertheless the Spanish boat managed to recover to finish third. Portuguese Bigamist’s issues with her spinnaker caused her to loose positions during the race to finish eighth. Skipper Afonso Domingos took revenge by winning race two, leaving them third overall, tied on points with Iñaki Castañer’s Noticia. Alegre was second and clinches the Soto 40 overall lead, with Iberdrola second.

The fleet’s smaller one-designs, the J-80’s enjoyed lighter winds in race area Charlie which hosted the day’s two races. Ignacio Camino’s Nextel and Jose María van der Ploeg’s Nilfisk won race one and two respectively, closing down the distance with Carlos Martinez’s Mapfre which remains leader in spite of her third and fourth places today.

Racing in the X-35 division proved as tight as yesterday, with each race bringing a new change in positions. Finish Audi Ultra shares the lead with Italian Margherite – Jsteam of Roberto Mazzucato, which was first and second. Slow but steady, defending champion Hotelplan – Spirit of Nerina has climbed to  third spot.

Tomorrow Wednesday the IRC and RI divisions will have their coastal race which is expected to cover approximately 30 miles. The committee plans two windward-leeward races for the rest of the divisions.

The 2012 Olympic Finn fleet: 24 sailors – one goal

 

By Robert Deaves of the International Finn Class Association

The 24 Finn sailors who will take part in the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition have been named. The fleet is full of talented sailors, with a wide range of ages and experience. Some are sailing their fifth Olympics, while for others it will be their first foray on the Olympic stage. But all are determined, focussed and single-minded. It will be the culmination of four years hard work, but only three will take home the medals. Here we take an in-depth look at all of them, their history, their potential, their strong points and the likely medal prospects.

Brendan Casey (AUS)

Age: 35
World Ranking (highest): 7 (7)
Previous Olympics: None
Best Results: 2010 Finn Gold Cup (10)
2012 Results: Europeans (34), Finn Gold Cup (13), Palma (19), Hyeres (1), Weymouth (14), Kiel (2)

Casey is a very experienced sailor who has tried and failed several times to qualify for the Olympics and has finally made it. He won the Laser Radial World Championships in 1995 and 1996 before switching to the Laser. After failing to qualify in 2000 and 2004 he switched to the Finn in 2006 and won the Australian Championship, but again missed out on a spot on the 2008 Olympic team. He took a few years out and returned in 2010 to place 10th at the Finn Gold Cup in San Francisco. Results came but he still had to prove himself to the selectors. His chance came in Hyeres, winning the last two races, including the very windy medal race to win the regatta and his place in London. He just couldn’t believe he had finally done it, 17 years after that first title.

Florian Raudaschl  (AUT)

Age: 34
World Ranking (highest): 25 (19)
Previous Olympics: None
Best Results: 2006 Finn Gold Cup (16), 2009 Finn Gold Cup (18)
2012 Results: Europeans (14), Finn Gold Cup (23), Palma (32), Hyeres (17), Weymouth (25)

After trying for many years, Raudaschl has finally made it to the Olympics to follow in the footsteps of his father’s illustrious career. (Hubert Raudaschl has competed in more Olympics than any other athlete, so far). Working in the family sailmaking business he has probably had less time in the boat than most of his competitors in recent years, but this year put some hard work in early in the year and the results started coming. Has been campaigning a Finn since 1999 and while he has performed well in the minor regattas, his two 10th places at Kiel Week in 2011 and 2010 are his only top 10 at Grade 1 regattas since 2008.

Jorge Zarif (BRA)

Age: 19
World Ranking (highest): 39 (35)
Previous Olympics: None
Best Results: 2009 Junior World Champion
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (34), Hyeres (19), Weymouth (20)

The youngest sailor in the Finn fleet at just 19 Zarif is the son of the late Jorge Zarif Zeto who competed in the Finn in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, where he finished 8th and 19th. Sure to be a contender in his home Olympics in four years time, he is looking to gain experience and insight into the Olympics this year. However he is a clever and hungry young sailor who has put in a few good results and has set his goal for 2012 as getting into the medal race, with the podium in his sights for 2016 in Rio. Zarif has been competing in the Finn internationally since 2009 and in Brazil since 2008 when he was just 15 years old.

Greg Douglas (CAN)

Age: 22
World Ranking (highest): 27 (27)
Previous Olympics: 2008 Laser – 43
Best Results: 2012 Miami (3), 2011 Medemblik (8)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (14), Palma (18), Weymouth (11)

Sailed the 2008 Olympics in the Laser for Barbados and finished last. Then switched allegiance to Canada where he was trained by 2008 Olympian Chris Cook and started to bring in some encouraging results. Cook, who placed fifth in China, then returned to the Finn in 2011 and went up against his trainee in the Canadian Olympic trials. Douglas thought he had lost the trials in Falmouth after Cook surged ahead, but then in a twist of fate, Cook got sick, retired from the regatta and Douglas got the 2012 ticket. Proved he can handle big  conditions in Falmouth and improving all the time so could be another surprise package. Big, strong and very focused.

Lei Gong (CHN)

Age: 29
World Ranking (highest): 59 (59)
Previous Olympics: None
Best Results: 2011 Finn Gold Cup (35), Olympic Test Event (27), 2011 Medemblik (27)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (30)

Only sailed a handful of regattas in this cycle after failing to qualify as China’s representative in 2008. Finished one off the bottom at the 2011 Olympic Test Event but has clearly improved since then with a 30th at this year’s Finn Gold Cup in Falmouth where he qualified China for the Olympics. While China does have a core of Finn sailors, they rarely appear at International events. Gong is no exception having only sailed eight ranking events since 2004 and goes into the Olympics as the lowest ranked sailor. His first international event was the Europeans in 2004 where he picked up the bronze medal in the Junior European championship, behind Oleksiy Borysov from Ukraine and Tapio Nirkko from Finland, both also competing in Weymouth.

 

Ivan Kljaković Gašpić (CRO)

Age: 28
World Ranking (highest): 3 (1)
Previous Olympics: 2008 (8)
Best Results: European Champion 2009, 2010;
2009 Finn Gold Cup (3)
2012 Results: Europeans (3),
Finn Gold Cup (4), Weymouth (9)

A well rounded sailor with a good chance at a medal, Kljakovic Gaspic is one of the most consistent sailors on the circuit, and is regularly at the front of international fleets. In China he finished in 8th place despite showing promise by nearly winning the 2007 test event. Since then he has matured as a sailor and put numerous regatta wins under his belt including the European Championship in 2009 and 2010. Over the last year he has strengthened his armoury by improving his strong wind speed, as shown in his fourth place at the 2012 Finn Gold Cup in Falmouth. Earlier in the year he picked up the bronze at the light wind Europeans, though like most of the fleet this year he has only done a few regattas in what has been a very busy start of the
season.

Michael Maier (CZE)

Age: 48
World Ranking (highest): 19 (2)
Previous Olympics: 1996 (14), 2000 (19), 2004 (15), 2008 (25)
Best Results: 2000 Finn Gold Cup (5), 2009 Finn Gold Cup (15)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (24), Hyeres (8), Weymouth (24)

The grand master of the Finn fleet, having just won his fourth Finn World Masters title. Maier will be the oldest sailor in the Finn fleet at 48 and also the most experienced. This will be his fifth Olympics, all of them in the Finn. Maier has been campaigning Finns since the early 1980s and before many of the current fleet were even born. His debut event was the 1982 European Championship at the age of just 16. Thirty-two years later he is still going and just can’t seem to let it go. He is still very competitive upwind but struggles downwind in the free pumping conditions.

Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN)

Age: 31
World Ranking (highest): 10 (1)
Previous Olympics: 2004 (9), 2008 (6)
Best Results: World Champion 2006, 2009
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (3), Palma (8), Weymouth (12)

After winning the 2006 Finn Gold Cup and picking up the bronze at the 2008 Finn Gold Cup he went into the 2008 Olympics as one of the medal favourites. However things never really went his way. He did stage a late recovery to finish sixth, but that was a long way from where he wanted to be. He almost gave up, took a year off and came back, unprepared, but fresh, to win the 2009 Finn Gold Cup on home waters. An on-off campaign ended in November 2011 when he started full time again and the results gradually came. He is now right back at the top and will be a serious contender for a medal again. This will be his third Olympics in the Finn.

Rafael Trujillo ( ESP)

Age: 36
World Ranking (highest): 1 (1)
Previous Olympics: 2000 Star (8), 2004 (2), 2008 (9)
Best Result: World Champion 2007
2012 Results: Europeans (10), Finn Gold Cup (18), Palma (21), Hyeres (2), Weymouth (10)

One of the most experienced sailors in the fleet, this will be his fourth Olympics and the third in the Finn. He picked up a silver medal in Athens in 2004, and then just made the medal race in China in 2008. He won the 2007 Finn Gold Cup after twice finishing losing the title on the final day and claimed another runner up place in 2010. Since then he has struggled with form, though finished fifth at the 2011 Finn Gold Cup. This year he placed 10th at the Europeans and 18th at the Finn Gold Cup. Big, strong sailor who prefers breezy conditions. He is certainly good enough to win another medal. Goes into the Olympics as the new world number one ranked sailor.

Deniss Karpak ( EST)

Age: 26
World Ranking (highest): 2 (1)
Previous Olympics: 2008 Laser (24)
Best Results: 2011 Finn Gold Cup (8)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (11), Europeans (6), Hyeres (4), Weymouth (15)

After sailing the 2008 Olympics in the Laser he moved straight into the Finn and has made steady progress ever since. He qualified for the 2012 Olympics after a great performance in Perth, and most recently won Kiel Week. A consistent year attending most of the major events also meant he briefly rose to the number one spot in the world rankings in June. A tall, athletic figure he struggled this year in the really windy conditions, losing Hyeres and finishing out of the medals after the medal race was sailed in 30 knots. Generally he is improving all the time and would definitely be considered as top 10 material and a possible for a surprise medal. Karpak won the Sailor of the Year in Estonia from 2005-11 and the Best Young Athlete of the Year
in Estonia in 2007.

Tapio Nirkko (FIN)

Age: 27
World Ranking (highest): 17 (7)
Previous Olympics: 2008 (18)
Best Results: 2011 Finn Gold Cup (12), 2009 Europeans (2)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (5), Palma (14), Weymouth (16)

The only internationally competitive Finnish Finn sailor, this will be Nirkko’s second Olympics after a disappointing regatta in China, where he placed 18th. Since then he has had a few moments of brilliance, picking up the silver medal at the 2009 Europeans and winning races here and there, generally in windy conditions. A tall and strong sailor, he is finally starting to add some consistency, and some promise, to his regattas, something that has been lacking in recent years. He sailed his best Finn Gold Cup ever this year to place fifth, so if he keeps it together he should be well inside the top 10 come medal race day.

Jonathan Lobert (FRA)

Age: 26
World Ranking (highest): 12 (6)
Previous Olympics: None
Best Results: Olympic Test Event (2), 2011 Finn Gold Cup (6)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (15), Palma (23), Weymouth (7)

A silver medal at the Olympic Test Event in 2011 was the culmination of steady progress over the previous few years. Lobert won his selection for the Olympics after the 2011 Finn Gold Cup against training partner Thomas Le Breton. He has a very athletic style in the boat, especially downwind and should do well at the Olympics. Hasn’t quite repeated his test event form since last August but is always pushing the leaders. He first moved into the Finn in early 2007 after outgrowing the Laser. Should almost certainly be a favourite for a medal at the Olympics based on past performance, and he seems to produce his best in Weymouth.

Ben Ainslie (GBR)

Age: 35
World Ranking (highest): 18 (1)
Previous Olympics: 2008 (1), 2004 (1), Laser: 2000 (1), 1996 (2)
Best Results: World Champion 2002-5, 2008, 2012
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (1), Palma (1), Weymouth (2)

After winning gold in 2008 there was much speculation whether Ainslie would return, but the demise of Team Origin made the decision easy and he returned to full time Finn sailing in 2010. After being unbeaten since 2004, his greatest threat came from Giles Scott and in the UK trials, the 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold was the decisive regatta for them both. Ainslie won and went on to dominate the Olympic Test Event to win selection. The controversial 2011 Finn Gold Cup was followed by a back operation, but he bounced back to dominate Palma and the 2012 Finn Gold Cup. Ainslie is going for a record fourth Gold Medal, which together with a silver from 1996, would make him the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. He is the absolute favourite
to win gold.

Ioannis Mitakis (GRE)

Age: 23
World Ranking (highest): 13 (11)
Previous Olympics: None
Best Results: 2011 Finn Gold Cup (20), 2010 Europeans (12)
2012 Results: Europeans (1), Athens (1), Weymouth (26)

Mitakis won the 2012 European Championship out of nowhere in very light and shifty winds. He first appeared in a Finn in 2009 and took the Junior European title in Bulgaria with ease. The following year he won it again in Croatia, this time also finishing 12th overall in the senior fleet. Then in 2010 he finished as runner up in the Silver Cup in San Francisco. A clearly talented sailor, many thought he would be a serious challenger in 2016, but he didn’t want to wait that long. Probably still one of the lightest sailors in the fleet and struggles when it is windy, but produces his best when it is light. His biggest enemy may be lack of regatta practice this year.

Filippo Baldassari (ITA)

Age: 24
World Ranking (highest): 40 (27)
Previous Olympics: None
Best Results: 2011 Finn Gold Cup (24), 2011 Hyeres (10)
2012 Results: Europeans (4), Palma (13), Weymouth (21)

The first sailor to qualify for the Olympics, Baldasaari won the Italian national trials back in April 2011. He has made steady progress since and has gradually moved up the ranks, including an impressive fourth overall at the light wind 2011 Europeans in Italy. One of a few sailors who skipped the Finn Gold Cup this year to take a break from the hectic early season. His 10th place last year in Hyeres was Baldasaari’s only top 10 placing at a Sailing World Cup or Grade 1 event since he switched to the Finn from the Laser in 2009.

Pieter-Jan Postma (NED)

Age: 30
World Ranking (highest): 4 (2)
Previous Olympics: 2008 (14)
Best Results: 2007 Finn Gold Cup (2), 2011 Finn Gold Cup (2)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (9), Europeans (7), Palma (15), Medemblik (3),
Weymouth (3)

Postma picked up the silver medal at the Finn Gold Cup and the Pre-Olympics in 2007 and then had a disastrous Olympics in 2008, failing to even make the medal race. After a few years taking it easy and studying he is now right back in contention with a bronze at the 2011 Olympic Test Event and a silver at the 2011 Finn Gold Cup. He placed seventh at the Europeans after being one of the favourites, and the spectre of national qualification perhaps played its part in a scrappy 2012 Finn Gold Cup where he salvaged a ninth. However he pulled a third out of the bag at the 2012 Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta. If he is on form, then he can sail fast and clever and will be a clear medal contender at the Games.

 

Dan Slater (NZL)

Age: 36
World Ranking (highest): 15 (2)
Previous Olympics: 2000 49er (8), 2008 (12)
Best Results: Finn Gold Cup: 2008 (6), 2008 (2), 2009 (7)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (16), Palma (5), Hyeres (5)

Third Olympics for Dan Slater after sailing a 49er in 2000 and finishing a very disappointing 12th in 2008 in the Finn, after finishing as runner up in the 2008 Finn Gold Cup. Selected late by New Zealand Yachting, he is perhaps a bit short on training but his experience of the arena and the fleet should easily give him top 10 potential and he could well be in with a shot at the medals if things go his way. A very experienced sailor he also campaigned the Laser for the 1996 and 2004 Olympics but failed to get selected. Finally switched to the Finn in 2005 and immediately made his mark with a silver medal at the 2005 European Championships. Has won several Grade 1 regattas in recent years and surely has the ability and potential to medal.

Piotr Kula (POL)

Age: 25
World Ranking (highest): 28 (13)
Previous Olympics: None
Best Results: 2011 Finn Gold Cup (23), 2011 Medemblik (7)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (6), Palma (11), Hyeres (12), Weymouth (17)

Won a very close Polish trials against the 2008 Olympian Rafal Szukiel and placed a very creditable sixth overall at the 2012 Finn Gold Cup, which clearly showed he has talent to burn. He has struggled with a knee injury over the past year, which kept him out of the 2011 Finn Gold Cup in Perth but proved this year he has the tenacity and the determination to race at the highest level. The Poles failed to qualify for the Olympics in Perth so it came down to Falmouth in addition to being the final selection trials. Kula was clearly on a mission all week and produced the best results of hiscareer to date. He could well be the surprise package of the Games.

Eduard Skornyakov (RUS)

Age: 31
World Ranking (highest): 14 (7)
Previous Olympics: 2008 (17)
Best Results: 2010 Hyeres (10), 2011 Fin Gold Cup (33)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (17), Europeans (11), Palma (22), Hyeres (6), Weymouth (27)

First appeared on the Finn scene in 2007 when he was the surprise winner of the European Championships on Lake Balaton in Hungary, in similar conditions to his home waters on the lakes in Moscow. Since then he hasn’t ever got close to repeating that performance but is starting to make headway into the top of the fleet. After a brief spell in the Laser and the 49er he moved into the Finn in early 2007. His European title was only his third major regatta in the class. Since then he has only made the top 10 on a handful of occasions, but a sixth this year in Hyeres proves he is on the right track.

Vasilij Zbogar (SLO)

Age: 36
World Ranking (highest): 13 (4)
Previous Olympics: Laser 2000 (19), 2004 (3), 2008 (2)
Best Results: 2011 Europeans (6), 2011 Finn Gold Cup (13)
2012 Results: Europeans (2), Palma (7), Hyeres (3)

Won a very aggressive trials again the 2004 and 2008 Olympian Gasper Vincec. Zbogar is a seasoned  Olympian having competed in three Games in the Laser already and picked up a bronze and a silver in that class. He took the silver medal at this year’s Europeans and then dominated the close of the Slovenian trials before taking some time out. Going into the Olympics he won’t have raced in a competitive regatta since Hyeres. After his first medal he was awarded Slovenian Sportsman of the Year 2004. He switched to the Finn in 2010 and has made steady progress ever since. Should be in the top 10 and perhaps fighting for a medal come the end of the event.

Daniel Birgmark (SWE)

Age: 39
World Ranking (highest): 9 (4)
Previous Olympics: 2004 (14), 2008 (4)
Best Results: 2011 Europeans (3), 2009 Finn Gold Cup (5)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (12), Palma (6), Weymouth (8)

After missing out in the Laser class in 2004, Birgmark switched to the Finn which was a much better fit for his size and weight and immediately qualified for Athens. After a 14th there, he lost the bronze medal at the Olympics in 2008 on the tie break after the medal race, so will be very keen to put that right in 2012. Best result since 2008 is a bronze medal at the 2010 Europeans. Struggled for form so far this year, though he normally sails well in medal races and almost won the medal race at this year’s Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta. A very consistent, steady and calm sailor who is always there or thereabouts. Probably his last Olympics in the Finn so will be more determined than ever to make it count.

Alican Kaynar (TUR)

Age: 23
World Ranking (highest): 35 (35)
Previous Olympics: None
Best Results: 2011 Finn Gold Cup (52), 2011 Europeans (33)
2012 Results: Europeans (12), Finn Gold Cup (29), Hyeres (21), Weymouth (28)

Sailed the 2009 Europeans and the switched full time to the Finn in 2010 after many years in the Laser. Won the Turkish trials after the Finn Gold Cup in Falmouth after sailing well to beat the long time Finn sailor Akif Muslubus. Kaynar has steadily improved over the past two years but has yet to break through very often. One highlight was this year’s European Championship in Scarlino, Italy where he won a race and finished 12th overall. He is still relatively small compared to the rest of the fleet but is clearly quick in light winds.

Oleksiy Borysov (UKR)

Age: 29
World Ranking (highest): 24 (15)
Previous Olympics: None
Best Results: 2011 Finn Gold Cup (22) 2011 Europeans (20)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (21), Palma (24), Hyeres (16), Weymouth (34)

After just missing out on qualifying for the 2008 Olympics by just one place, this time around Borysov qualified at the first attempt in Perth to secure a place in Weymouth. Has been sailing the Finn internationally since 2004 and has only won one major ranking event, the 2011 Sail Melbourne, in that time. He also placed second in Kiel Week in 2010. One of only two dinghy sailors representing Ukraine in Weymouth (the other is in the Laser), Borysov unfortunately was forced to miss the 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold and the 2011 Olympic Test Event due to lack of financial support. He can normally can pull out a few good races in each regatta,  including race wins, but now needs to put it all together at one event.

Zach Railey (USA)

Age: 27
World Ranking (highest): 8 (1)
Previous Olympics: 2008 (2)
Best Results: 2009 Finn Gold Cup (2), 2011 Finn Gold Cup (9)
2012 Results: Finn Gold Cup (10), Miami (1), Palma (2), Weymouth (4)

Against all expectations Railey won the silver medal in China and has been trying to live up to his billing ever since. The closest he got was a silver at the 2009 Finn Gold Cup, losing the title on the medal race. He has picked up various medals at several Sailing World Cup Events, and posted a solid fourth place at the recent Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta. Though not the biggest sailor in the fleet he has historically produced some of his best results at windy regattas, as well as at light wind venues such as Qingdao. Railey is a very thoughtful, analytical sailor and it is well within his abilities to pick up another medal this summer.

The Swedish goddess and British Gladiator strike first blow

Day 1 – 31st Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre

  c Nico Martinez

 

Conditions in the Bay of Palma where light and shifty for the start of racing and the fleet had to wait an hour and twenty minutes before the postponement flag was lowered but the fleet was finally rewarded with a southerly breeze of 10 – 12 knots on the two race areas where the windward-leeward courses were set.

Niklas Zennström’s 72 footer RÁN delivered a star performance on the water by winning the day’s first test, followed by a second as the seabreeze faded. The Swedish boat, winner of the 29th Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre in 2010, leads the overall classification after two races, followed by Sir Peter Ogden’s Jethou, and New Yorker Bella Mente.

In the IRC 1 division, Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator (GBR) comfortably controlled the first race from beginning to end, after starting at the pin end leaving Jochen Schuemann skippered Audi All4one as well as Audi Azzurra with Argentinean Guillermo Parada at the helm, in his wake.  Audi All4One with Jordi Calafat calling tactics, managed to climb up the fleet to finish second, followed by Powerplay from the Cayman Islands in third.

 

The second race delivered a big swing of positions with the French 52 Paprec first to cross the finish line by a boat length from Audi Azzurra to claim the overall lead. Audi All4One finished in second, leaving them in the same position on the overall scoreboard after two races. Third overall is the British boat Gladiator who could only finish third in the second race.

The Spanish-Portuguese alliance onboard Swanderful was rewarded with a second and a first position in the first two races for the RI 1 division. Spanish VOR runner up Roberto Bermúdez de Castro is calling tactics onboard the Swan 52 owned by Portuguese José Caldeira.

Defending Champion Rats on Fire of Rafael Carbonell won the first race, but a third position in the second, leaves them second in the overall classification. Third and tied on seven points are the Roumanian boat Natalia and Spanish Grupo Clínico Luis Senís. Four out of the the top five classified are Swan designs.

The fleet’s one-design classes, the J-80’s and X-35’s, delivered tight and intense racing, specially the former, which was won by the Spanish boat Mapfre of Carlos Martínez.  The Finnish Samuli Leisti owned Audi Ultra leads the X-35 classification.

For full results visit:  www.prensarcnp.es/copa10/principal/index_uk.php

Weekend Roundup Monday 16 July

 

 

Williams comes through in Chicago

Reigning Tour Champion Ian Williams (GBR) was crowned the 2012 Chicago Match Cup winner after a 3-0 battle against Australian youngster Jordan Reece, which also closed the gap on Bjorn Hansen at the top of Alpari World Match Racing Tour leaderboard, the Swede having won the day’s Petit Final to take third.

For replays of the regatta  new.livestream.com/WorldMRT.

Alpari World Match Race Tour see: www.wmrt.com/live

 

 

Rán Racing snatch victory on last day

Rán Racing claimed the Royal Cup and their first overall victory in the inaugural 52 Super Series in a testing day’s racing at Palma, Mallorca on Saturday that victorious skipper Niklas Zennström described as being “as good as it gets”.

Zennstroms’s team surged to victory in a gusty northeaster at speeds in excess of 24 knots, finishing second across the line in the final race of the day to clinch the overall win.

World champions Quantum Racing finished second in the cup after they were forced to retire from the first of two races on Saturday, when they broke their headstay ram, headfoil and jib in the turbulent conditions.

For full results see: www.52superseries.com

 

 

 

Copa del Rey begins this week  in typical med condtions

The 31st edition of the Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre kicks off today in the Bay of Palma with a fleet of 119 boats. Organised by the Real Club Náutico of Palma, the event’s racing schedule will run from Monday to Saturday, and will gather a total of 1.200 sailors in five categories competing in real and compensated time.

Regatta website:  www.prensarcnp.es/copa10/principal/index_uk.php

Rán Racing snatch Royal Cup victory in final race

 

 

Ran Racing win the Royal Cup – copyright: Xaume Olleros

 

Rán Racing have won the Royal Cup, their first overall victory in the 52 Super series, after finishing second in the final race of the four-day regatta where wind gusts in excess of 30 knots forced two teams to retire.

Audi Azzurra claimed line honours and 52 seconds later Rán finished in second place, followed by Quantum, Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One, PowerPlay and Provezza.

It was a tough finish for Quantum Racing who led the Royal Cup from day one, but dropped to second in the opening race of the final day when they damaged their forestay and were forced to retire.

The team raced the clock to repair the damage and return to the start for the final race, but it wasn’t their day.

In an intense start to the final race of the Royal Cup the eight teams started clear in a choppy sea state with wind gusts in excess of 25 knots.

Azzurra battled the big breeze with the greatest success to reach to top mark first, followed nine seconds later by Quantum, All4One, Rán, Provezza, Gladiator, PowerPlay and Aquila, who retired shortly after.

The northeasty breeze built to excess of 28 knots as the teams raced against it to the second top mark rounding. Gladiator retired along the way. Azzurra rounded the final mark first, followed by Rán and Quantum.

The team’s revelled in the power-run to the finish with plenty of water awash over the deck as they played the swell. Azzurra crossed first, but the true victory was Ran’s.

 

Overall Results

1 SWE 5211 Ran  23pts

2 USA 52011 Quantum Racing 24pts

3 GER A40 Audi All4One 24pts

4 ITA 280 Audi Azzurra 27pts

5 CAY 52 Powerplay 41.4pts

6 GBR 11152l Gladiator 44pts

7 TUR 1212 Provezza 7 47pts

8 AUT 5200 Aquila 56pts

 

By Jacaranda Marketing

Gladiator and Audi All4One upset the leaders

 

 

 

Gladiator pulled off a major comeback to win their first race at the Royal Cup on Friday less than 24-hours after a collision forced their retirement, while world champions Quantum Racing are primed for the final day’s racing on Saturday with a six point lead.

Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One posted the best results of the day, finishing second in race one and claiming their first victory in race two to edge into third place overall.

Despite Quantum finishing third in both races they remain leaders in the Royal Cup on 12 points, followed by Rán Racing on 18, All4One, 19, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, 24, Gladiator, 30, PowerPlay 31.4, Provezza, 35 and Aquila, 40.

Gladiator’s crew were hopeful that the worst of their luck was behind them as they hit the water to race on the superstitious Friday the 13th, having been forced to retire from racing on Thursday after a damaging collision and suffering a costly spinnaker fumble on the first day of racing on Wednesday.

The team proved that that the third time can be a charm when they crossed the finish of race one in first place, 18 seconds ahead of All4One followed by Quantum Racing, Rán Racing, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, PowerPlay, Provezza and Aquila.

 

 

Owner/skipper Tony Langley said scoring the win was a testament to his shore crew’s repair effort and his sailing team’s skills. But the British businessman said there was still work to do.

“It’s always nice to get a bullet, but to be happy with the results we’ve got to be consistently in the top half of the fleet, we’re not there yet,’’ he said.

The sea breeze in Palma Bay was proving challenging as it swung 30 degrees, making conditions difficult for even the sharpest of tacticians in the second and final race of the day.

Local Palma sailor and Olympic gold medallist Jordi Calafat rose to the challenge, chartering a victorious path for his All4One crew to claim their first win at the Royal Cup.

PowerPlay posted their best result of the regatta to finish second, Quantum Racing finished third, followed by Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, Rán Racing, Provezza, Gladiator and Aquila.

Calafat played down having any assistance from a home-ground advantage. It was more a case of patience and improved teamwork, he said.

“I’ve sailed with (skipper) Jochen Schuemann a lot, and now we’re just starting to get our communication back, it’s improving day by day,’’ Calafat said.

The win bumped All4One to third place overall in the Royal Cup, pushing Audi Azzurra to fourth position.

Looking ahead to the final day’s racing, Quantum navigator Andy Horton said his team would approach it like any other; conservatively.

“Consistency is always the goal, we’re pretty conservative as a group,’’ he said.

“On a day like today it’s really difficult to do, it’s shifty and puffy so a lot of times you’ll find us playing the standard average, unless something is really obvious, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Horton commended substitute crewman Australian Chris Hosking, who stepped in last minute to replace trimmer Brett Jones after he injured his hand during a maneuver yesterday and was transferred mid-race to hospital.

The final day’s racing of the Royal Cup at Palma, Mallorca will start at 1100 local, 0900 UTC. The Royal Cup is the third of four regattas that make up the inaugural 52 Super Series.

Quantum lead the 52 Super Series, followed by Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, Rán Racing and Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One. Gladiator, PowerPlay, Provezza and Aquila are also competing, but their points are yet to be confirmed.

 

Ranking after 6 races

1. Quantum Racing 12pts

2. Rán Racing 18pts

3. Audi All4One 19pts

4. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team 24pts

5. Gladiator 30pts

6. PowerPlay 31.4pts

7. Provezza 35pts

8. Aquila 40pts

 

By Jacaranda Marketing, photos supplied by Xaume Olleros

 

The story of the Finn class at the Olympic Games

 

1968 Finn class Olympic regatta in Acapulco

The Finn made its first appearance at the Olympic Games back in 1952. That year Paul Elvstrøm won the second of his four Gold medals on his way to setting a record that has, so far, stood for 52 years. More than five decades later Ben Ainslie stands on the brink of breaking that record, as he has broken so many other records in his 10 years in the class. If he does it would be one of the defining moments of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Finn is the oldest dinghy class that is being used at the 2012 Olympic Games. In fact this year marks its 60th anniversary of inclusion at the Games and is the 16th time it will be raced. Over those 60 years it has modernised and embraced new technologies but is fundamentally the same design.

But to go back to the very beginning…

The Olympics in 1952 were assigned to Helsinki, Finland and the Finish Yachting Association, who had been assigned the job of selecting the class for the Monotype, ran a competition for a new boat designed specifically for the Olympics which could also be used for sailing competitions in Scandinavia. The Finn was selected from a design entered by Swedish Olympian Rickard Sarby. Paul Elvstrøm swept the board to win by nearly 3,000 points from Charles Currey of Great Britain, who took Silver. Elvstrøm won four of the seven races in a fleet of 28 boats and set a standard which has never been equalled. In spite of badly injuring his hand before the sixth race, Sarby just managed to win the Bronze.

Elvstrøm – who won his first Gold medal at the 1948 Olympics in Torbay in the Firefly class – won because of his hiking technique, which he had developed practising in his own boat. Most of his competitors were rather sitting on the sidedeck instead of hiking on the sheer guard. In addition Elvstrøm attached a sort of traveller to his boat, which was not supplied by the organiser. Most competitors considered this alteration to be illegal but the Dane got away with it. However after the fifth race, when it was already for sure that he had won the Gold medal, Elvstrøm removed the device again, in order to calm the grumbles.

The Finn had proved to be such a great competitive boat in the 1952 Olympics that it was retained as the Monotype again for the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Again Elvstrøm slaughtered the opposition, this time with five wins in his score. Going into the last race it looked as though the American John Marvin, who had never raced a Finn before, might topple the Belgian Andre Nelis since they were level on points. But Nelis pulled out all the stops and kept Marvin covered whilst notching up a second place himself.

For 1960 in Naples, there was a great increase to 35 Finns and Elvstrøm did it again. This time he only won three races and had to withdraw from the last through illness, but he was never lower than fifth in conditions which did not enable him to gain by his fantastic strength and endurance. This was the year that Russia arrived as a top sailing nation and in the Finns the Silver Medal was won by Alexandr Chuchelov. Nelis of Belgium took Bronze.

In Tokyo, Japan in 1964, for the first time the supplied hulls were fibreglass instead of wood. Germany was the leading nation in the Finn in 1964, and Willy Kuhweide, who was only selected at the last moment and despite a severe infection of the middle ear, led the fleet into the final race. Peter Barrett and Henning Wind stayed close to each other during that race and finished 7th and 10th, allowing Kuhweide to once again take line honours and Gold.

The 1968 Games were in Mexico with the sailing at Acapulco. Some picked Wind, who had just won the Finn Gold Cup while others favoured Kuhweide or Jörg Bruder, the Brazilian who had won the Pan American Games. Few felt that Valentin Mankin, the veteran Russian Finn sailor and an excellent heavy weather helmsman, had much of a chance in the light weather so typical of Acapulco. But Mankin surprised everyone with a week of almost flawless tactical racing. Never below seventh at any mark, he beat Hubert Raudaschl of Austria by almost 42 points. Fabio Albarelli of Italy won the Bronze.

Synonymous with strong winds and heavy weather sailing, no one was prepared for two weeks of mild weather and light winds at the 1972 Olympics in Kiel, Germany. Before the Olympics there was a controversy about the masts supplied by the organiser. Most of the competitors favoured the old wooden masts, which they were used to, and only a few had experience with the new aluminium masts they were forced to use. The competition ended with some big names down the scoreboard. Serge Maury of France won the Gold while Elias Hatzipavlis from Greece got Silver and Victor Potapov from Russia Bronze. The decisive race was the fifth, when only three boats finished within the time limit.

There was another change for the 1976 Olympics in Kingston, Ontario. As usual, the organisers supplied the hulls, but for the first time the sailors were allowed to bring their own sails and masts. Not until the weather mark of the last race was it clear where the medals would go. First around was Jochen Schümann from the German Democratic Republic with a tenacious cover on Andrei Balashov of the Soviet Union. Australian John Bertrand, the other contender for the gold was a distant 12th. Although later passed by two boats, Schümann finished ahead of the Russian and the Australian to assure his win. As striking as Schümann’s excellent performance was the poor showing of the pre-race favourites, David Howlett of England and Serge Maury of France.

The 1980 Olympics in Moscow, with the yachting events in Tallinn suffered from the boycott initiated by the United States. A number of potential winners were excluded from the start. Some of those who came, felt uncomfortable within the narrow limits of the strict organisation and performed poorly. The favourites: Jochen Schümann, Mark Neeleman, Lasse Hjortnäs, and Minski Fabris failed to collect the medals. Outsiders like Esko Rechardt took Gold and Wolfgang Mayrhofer the Silver in front of the only successful favourite Andrei Balashov, who won Bronze.

The Games suffered once again from a boycott at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, this time initiated by the USSR. So in Long Beach the favourites from the DDR, Poland and the USSR were excluded. In the Finn class the actual Olympic sailing was preceded by an undignified controversy after the US trials. John Bertrand was declared the representative only 24 hours before the first start. In that race he had a collision with the later Gold medal winner Russell Coutts from New Zealand and was disqualified. Disregarding the mental strain of the qualification battle and the disqualification in the first race, Bertrand was leading after the fifth and sixth race. In the last race however, he lost the Gold to Coutts, and Terry Neilson from Canada won the Bronze.

 

 

1988 Finn class Olympic regatta in Pusan

 

The 1988 Olympic Regatta was held in the Bay of Pusan in Korea. The final winner, José Luis Doreste, who had competed in both the 1976 and 1980 Olympics was disqualified in race 4 for a collision. The Silver medalist Peter Holmberg was PMS in race 4 and one of the favourites Lasse Hjortnäs broke his mast in race two after winning the first race. These events really opened up the racing. Eventually John Cutler won the last two races to take the Bronze. Larry Lemieux gave up a good position in the fifth race to rescue two Singapore 470 sailors from the water after one had lost contact with his boat and was awarded Pierre de Coubertin Medal for Sportsmanship for this feat. Once again the sailors had to use boats that were provided by the organisers.

Barcelona, Spain produced generally light to moderate conditions for the 1992 Olympics. The Finn fleet was the deepest ever and it was generally agreed that anyone in the first 15 could win the Gold and anyone of the first 22 could win a race. The final winner José Maria van der Ploeg never scored worse than sixth and didn’t have to sail the final race. The two favourites Eric Mergenthaler and Glenn Bourke performed poorly and finished 18th and 20th. Brian Ledbetter was one of the few consistent sailors and won the Silver medal, while Craig Monk, from New Zealand, won the last race to snatch the bronze away from Stuart Childerley. Prior to the regatta, the IFA conducted a two week training clinic for those countries desiring assistance.

1996 Olympic regatta in Savannah by Francois Richard

 

When the numerically stronger Laser was bidding for Olympic status many thought that it would replace the Finn as the Olympic singlehander for men. However this was not to be and in 1996 in Savannah there were two singlehanded dinghies for men. This worked well, as it meant that there was two boats for two different weight categories. The advance weather reports suggested a light wind regatta. However, this was not to be and thunderstorm activity resulted in some spectacular weather and strong winds. Poland’s first ever sailing medal was won by Mateusz Kusznierewicz with a race to spare, and this in spite of losing his watch early on in the series and using the clock on the starting boat instead. Sebastien Godefroid from Belgium took the Silver while relative Olympic veteran Roy Heiner took the Bronze on the last race.

In Sydney, Australia in 2000, Iain Percy won the first medal for Great Britain in the class since Charles Currey’s Silver in 1952. Sailing a very consistent series he had it all wrapped up before the final race. Luca Devoti’s Silver was one of the most unexpected medals of the Games, while Fredrik Lööf’s bronze had been a long time coming. For the first time ever the sailors had been allowed to bring their own hulls as well as rigs. Also of importance to the Finn sailors of the future, Ben Ainslie won his first Olympic Gold medal in the Laser class. Two years later he announced his switch to the Finn, where he has dominated for the last 10 years.

Ainslie started the 2004 Olympics in Athens with a low score and a disqualification after being protested for a port-starboard incident, but fought back with a string of top results to make a remarkable comeback. He led into the final race and stuck to Silver medalist Rafael Trujillo to assure his second Gold medal. Mateusz Kusznierewicz picked up his second Finn medal after winning the final race and taking Bronze.

 

Beijing 2008 Finn Class by Francois Richard

 

In 2008 in Qingdao, China, Ainslie won his third Olympic Gold after winning three races in generally very light winds and very strong tides. He also won the medal race in very strong winds, the first time that format had been used at the Olympics. Zach Railey was the surprise Silver medal winner but didn’t win a single race and neither did Guillaume Florent, who took the Bronze away from Daniel Birgmark on the medal race result, both sailors ending up with the same points.

Up to 1948 the type of boat used as the Monotype or singlehander was changed for each Olympic Games. With the introduction of the Finn in 1952 this problem was solved. The Finn was designed as an Olympic singlehander that could be sailed worldwide and aspiring Olympic sailors could practice and develop the required skills prior to the games. It has established strict class rules and regulations and because of this has proven to be a true Olympic class reflecting the Olympic spirit. The class inspires intense devotion from sailors and fans across the world. The Finn is a modern racing machine, a highly evolved piece of kit with an outstanding tradition and  an amazing culture. It has become a supreme ambassador for all that is great about Olympic sailing and has evolved into a modern classic that has produced some of the world’s best sailors.

Am extensive photo gallery of the Finn Class at the Olympic Games can be found on the class Facebook page at:http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150953651332634.420654.110408332633&type=1

Much more on the Finn can be found in the anniversary book, Photo FINNish, available on Amazon.co.uk, and through the class website.

Past medalists

 

Year and venue
Gold
Silver
Bronze
1952, Helsinki, Finland
Paul Elvstrøm, Denmark
Charles Currey, Great Britain
Rickard Sarby, Sweden
1956, Melbourne, Australia
Paul Elvstrøm, Denmark
André Nelis, Belgium
John Marvin, United States
1960, Naples, Italy
Paul Elvstrøm, Denmark
Alexandr Chuchelov, USSR
André Nelis, Belgium
1964, Enoshima, Japan
Willy Kuhweide, Germany
Peter Barrett, United States
Henning Wind, Denmark
1968, Acapulco, Mexico
Valentin Mankin, USSR
Hubert Raudaschl, Austria
Fabio Albarelli, Italy
1972, Kiel, West Germany
Serge Maury, France
Elias Hatzipavlis, Greece
Victor Potapov, USSR
1976, Kingston, Canada
Jochen Schumann, DDR
Andrei Balashov, USSR
John Bertrand, Australia
1980, Tallinn, USSR
Esko Rechardt, Finland
Wolfgang Mayrhofer, Austria
Andrei Balashov, USSR
1984, Long Beach, USA
Russell Coutts, New Zealand
John Bertrand, United States
Terry Neilson, Canada
1988, Pusan, Korea
Jose Luis Doreste, Spain
Peter Holmberg, US Virgin Islands
John Cutler, New Zealand
1992, Barcelona, Spain
José Maria van der Ploeg, Spain
Brian Ledbetter, USA
Craig Monk, New Zealand
1996, Savannah, USA
Mateusz Kusnierewicz, Poland
Sebastien Godefroid, Belgium
Roy Heiner, Nertherlands
2000, Sydney, Australia
Iain Percy, Great Britain
Luca Devoti, Italy
Fredrik Lööf, Sweden
2004, Athens, Greece
Ben Ainslie, Great Britain
Rafael Trujillo, Spain
Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Poland
2008, Qingdao, China
Ben Ainslie, Great Britain
Zach Railey, USA
Guillaume Florent, France

 

* This text has been edited, abridged and amended from an article by David Leach, Richard Creagh-Osborne, Georg Siebeck and Robert Deaves and originally published in FINNLOG and FINNatics by the International Finn Association.