Finn sailors make the difference in Prada Cup.

The British Finn Association sends huge congratulations to INEOS Team UK on their racing master class in the Prada Cup Round Robins, held recently in Auckland – in particular to British Finn sailors Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott, Chris Brittle and Ben Cornish. Part of the dramatic turnaround in the British boat’s performance was clearly Finn sail inspired – controlling the lower mainsail depth via an adjustable in-haul to keep the boat powered up and foiling.

In fact, Finn Olympians and world champions can be found in key roles in all the America’s Cup teams presently in Auckland:

Emirates Team New Zealand: Josh Junior, Rio 2016 Olympian and 2019 Gold Cup winner. Andy Maloney – Europeans 2019 Silver Medallist & World Cup final winner.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team: Philippe Presti, Atlanta 1996 Olympian, Gold Cup winner ‘93 & ’96, Enrico Voltolini – Trofeo Menoni winner 2016.

NYYC American Magic: Dean Barker, Athens 2004 Olympian, Caleb Paine, Rio 2016 Bronze Medallist, James Lynne, Ex GBR Finn campaigner.

INEOS Team UK: Ben Ainslie, 3 times Finn Olympic Gold medallist, 6 times Gold Cup Winner. Giles Scott, Rio 2016 Finn Olympic Gold medallist, 4 times Gold Cup winner. Ben Cornish, Finn Europeans Bronze Medallist 2017. Chris Brittle, Finn Silver Cup winner 2002.

Whilst traditionally Finn sailors may have been seen as the brawn on the pedestals on America’s Cup and even Ocean Race boats, they are today very much the ‘brains trust’ aboard INEOS Team UK. The team work and close communication between Ben and Giles as they called every shift and ounce of pressure was impressive to witness. So what is it that makes the International Finn such a strong breeding ground for world class sailors? 

Despite being a small, relatively low cost dinghy, the Finn has proved to be the perfect mix of being readily accessible to all but with just enough technical challenges to teach the athlete the subtleties of rig tune, boat preparation and the benefits of complete physical fitness. As a singlehanded class, starting, tactics, technique and race management are all down to the individual sailor – there is nowhere to hide.  As a result, the Finn builds self–reliance and confidence, creating all round sailors with an understanding of the aero dynamics of rigs and the importance of effective technique – all whilst honing their tactics and racing experience in a hugely competitive and tight international fleet, constantly pushing each other to greater performance.

The contrast in speed upwind between the Finn and a foiling AC75 could not be more stark, yet the Prada Cup racing has shown that spotting the pressure and upcoming shifts are just as important on the AC race course. These skills are vital to success in the relatively ponderous Finn, where boat speed is closer across the fleet and gains have to be eked out from every minor shift and pressure increase.

Is this unique education not available in other Olympic classes? Well not really – strict One Design classes remove the need to learn how to develop rigs to suit individual body size or venue conditions and modern lightweight skiff classes place a premium on boat handling which can be to the detriment of expert wind strategy and tactics.

The fact that the world’s best sailors have been developed in the Finn class for many years should not go unnoticed by World Sailing and the IOC when they select the Olympic Classes, if they are truly to represent the pinnacle of the sport and mirror the Olympic motto of ‘Faster – Higher – Stronger’!

The Final of the Prada Cup begins on 13th February in the Hauraki Gulf  and Waitematā Harbour, Auckland with the winner progressing to race Emirates Team New Zealand for the America’s Cup. Watch the Prada Cup racing live here.

Article created for the International Finn Association and published in EuroSail News Europe and Scuttlebutt , North America. The

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