The sailors are counting down the days to the start of the 2015 Finn Gold Cup in Takapuna, New Zealand. More and more Finns are covering the grass outside the Takapuna Boating Club in anticipation of a highly competitive week of racing. Around half the fleet of 90 or so Finns are currently taking part in the Pre-Worlds, the Auckland Championships, ahead of the first Gold Cup race next Tuesday. For Finn sailors, Takapuna is the place to be at the moment.
In our fourth preview of the upcoming championship, we talk with some of the younger sailors taking part as they prepare for the trials ahead.
The class has placed a lot of emphasis recently on its FINNTEAM initiative to support a multinational team of sailors and help them to achieve their Olympic dreams. Two sailors from the team – Alejandro Folgia (URU) and Santiago Falasca (ARG) – are in Takapuna hoping to qualify their countries for the Rio Olympics. For the young Falasca it is his first world championship, but he is relishing the challenge.
“This is the first time I will be sailing the Finn Gold Cup, so I’m really looking forward to it. It’s not only my first Gold Cup, it’s the first time I will be sailing at the senior worlds of any class, and my first Olympic Qualifier as well. So I think, all these components make this a unique regatta for me in my sailing career. There is gonna be adrenaline and excitement for sure in the racing. I hope to do well in the races, but as always, I’m happy at the end of the regatta if I feel that I gave one hundred per cent. I expect to be in the first half of the fleet, trying to do some good races in the front.”
As part of Luca Devoti’s Dinghy Academy in Valencia he has been training with a lot of top sailors. “We’ve been training a lot in Valencia with the guys at the Dinghy Academy. Over the last couple of weeks, like most of the year, we had some incredible sailing conditions so I believe that all the Dinghy Academy sailors are arriving ready and fit for the worlds.”
“I’ve been specially training with the guys who are in the FINNTEAM, Foglia from Uruguay, Oisin from Ireland and Facundo from Argentina like me. This is just the beginning of the FINNTEAM, but we are already working as a team waiting for the funding to come. We have been training really hard, so any support is welcome to help us achieve our Olympic dream.”
Also at his first Finn Gold Cup is André Hojen Christiansen (DEN). After placing seventh at the 2015 Silver Cup (Junior World Championship), he has been befitting from being invited to join the training group with Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) in Florida.
“Jonas wants his extensive knowledge and experience to be passed on to the new generation of Danish Finns, and I was ready to participate in this project. When I got the offer – I accepted the offer right away. The cooperation will continue until the Olympics.”
“So, I have be training a lot with Jonas and his team recently which has given me a push in the right direction and I trust I will benefit from the training. Although I approach the task humbly, I’m looking forward very much to sailing against the best. I expect we will have excellent conditions and some great racing. I have never sailed in New Zealand before but have heard that they have great windy conditions – this will be a challenge to me but also an educational experience, especially in the process where I am right now.“
Høgh-Christensen commented on his protégé. “He knows he will not get to the top without hard work and I have a lot to offer over the next 10 months that will benefit him a lot. I hope he does well in Takapuna but I am sure this is more about getting experience and learning the effort that the old guys put into succeeding. If he keeps pushing hard he has a good chance of getting good enough to be competitive in the 2020 Games.”
“My reason for bringing André along is simple. I want to give the next generation the best possible platform to succeed in the future. He jumped at the opportunity and I respect that. I will help him both financially and training wise and hopefully leave him with a great foundation for a 2020 campaign.”
Hojen Christiansen continued, “Obviously, it has been a tremendous instructive experience to sail with people who have won Olympic medals and the Gold Cup and I have gained insight into what it takes to be part of the top of the Finn class.”
He explained the attraction of the Finn to him. “For me it has always been a dream to sail the Finn. The boat has a long and fascinating story and I have always wanted to be part of this story. Although today, racing is an array of extreme boats, the Finn is special and quite indescribable. When I started sailing the Finn I lacked weight to be able to manage the boat - but I am getting there. Besides, I find downwind with free pumping great fun.”
The current Junior World Champion, Ondrej Teply (CZE) is also looking for Olympic qualification. “The goal here is to qualify the country, and then let’s see. My goal is that I would like to improve my result from my first Gold Cup in Santander where I finished in 59th place.”
“I feel quite relaxed after the win at the Silver Cup, but anyway I am expecting something different here in Takapuna. We did some good training, mostly in Valencia and Lake Garda with team mates and I feel that I am quite prepared here, so let’s see if IT will show up during the regatta.”
Tomorrow, the final part of this series of interviews looks at some of the favourites for the world title. We talk to 2012 bronze medalist Jonathan Lobert (FRA), 2010 world Champion Ed Wright (GBR), Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) and the defending world champion Giles Scott (GBR).
The Finn Gold Cup runs from Saturday 21 to Sunday 29 November. Ten races are scheduled from Tuesday 24 to Saturday 28 November, with the medal race and final race on Sunday 29 November.
More information on the event website at: 2015.finngoldcup.org
Photos: Santago Falasca, André Hojen Christiansen, Ondrej Teply
Photo credit: Robert Deaves
About the event
The 2015 Finn Gold Cup (the Finn Class World Championship) is being held at Takapuna Boating Club in Auckland, New Zealand from 21 to 29 November.
The event website is: 2015.finngoldcup.org
There will be regular updates including an oin the water feed via Twitter and Facebook
Photograpghs and Video
Daily event galleries will be available (free for editorial use with credit) at:
Each day there will be a VNR available for media with interviews in English and home language.
An edited summary will also be available on Youtube.
Rio 2016 Qualification
The Rio 2016 Qualification System can be seen here.
The following nations are already qualified: BRA, GBR, CRO, FRA, NZL, USA, NOR, SWE, DEN, SLO, AUS, HUN, FIN, CHN.
At least four more places are available from the 2015 Finn Gold Cup.
Entry List: http://2015.finngoldcup.org/webpages/entry-list/
Race documents: http://2015.finngoldcup.org/webpages/about-us/
Press release sign-up form:http://finnclass.org/media-finn/newsletter-a-press-release