While most sailors are looking ahead to the Olympics in a few weeks time, for the younger generation of Finn sailors there is still the important matter of the Finn Silver Cup to decide. Nearly 40 Finn sailors from 14 nations and three continents are beginning to assemble in Aarhus, Denmark to challenge for the 2016 Finn Silver Cup, recently rebranded as the U23 Finn World Championship.
Not only is there a new name, but also a new format with 13 races being held over five days at Kaløvig Sailing Club, which is located a little to the north of Aarhus on the western most landmass of Denmark, Jutland. Racing runs from Tuesday 5 July to Saturday 9 July.
The name and age limit of the Finn Silver Cup, for the Jorg Bruder Trophy, were changed earlier this year to bring the class into line with other classes and other sports that set an U23 age limit on their ‘junior’ events. This year the event has attracted its biggest entry since 2009.
The entry list is one of the most diverse and deep ever to attend a Finn Silver Cup with competitors from as far away as Australia and Argentina. Not unexpectedly, after the creation of their development youth squad, the British field the largest team with eight sailors attending.
The defending champion is Ondrej Teply (CZE), who took his first title last year in Valencia. Another former champion, Arkadiy Kistanov (RUS) is also back again, and fights on after failing to qualify Russia for the Olympics.
Phillip Kasueske (GER) and Max Kohlhoff (GER) can also be considered favourites. Kasueske recently followed his tenth place at the Finn Gold Cup in Gaeta with a gold medal at Kiel Week. Kohlhoff placed third in Kiel after leading for much of the week. Both are sailing really well at the moment and the results are starting to come.
As host, Denmark is fielding three sailors including Stig Steinfurth (DEN), who narrowly missed the podium last year in Valencia, and André Hojen Christiansen (DEN), who has spent considerable time training alongside Olympic medalist Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN), so this will be an interesting battle to watch.
Also from last year’s top five, runner up Nenad Bugarin (CRO) is back, as is bronze medallist Lars Johan Brodtkorb (NOR). Bugarin is now a senior circuit regular and is starting to make his mark, while Bordtkorb is still mixing Finn and Europe sailing. He has won the last two Europe World Championships, benefiting from windy conditions, but still struggles in a Finn in any breeze. If the week in Aarhus is light, he stands a very good chance.
While a number of the sailors competing in Aarhus next week campaigned hard for Olympic qualification, Facundo Olezza (ARG) is the only one to actually qualify and goes into the Rio Olympics as the youngest Finn sailor in the 23 boat fleet. He placed eighth at last year’s Silver Cup after having led at the half way stage. He will probably be the most motivated next week as he looks to set down a marker before heading to Rio.
From the British Sailing Team, Hector Simpson (GBR) and Henry Wetherell (GBR) are competing alongside the six members of the GAC Pindar U23 squad, a development team established by the class association.
The Polish team of four is headed by Mikolaj Lahn (POL), who placed 15th last year and comes with a young and largely untested team.
Looking at the form objectively, there are around 10 sailors capable of winning the 2016 U23 World Title, with another ten capable of sneaking into the top 10.
The event will be officially opened on Sunday 3 July, with the practice race on Monday before racing starts in earnest on Tuesday 5 July.
The significance of this event is not lost on many of the young sailors. In just two years time, the 2018 World Sailing Championships will be hosted here, the first selection event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. A look at the list of winners below highlights that many previous winners have gone onto realise their Olympic dreams. Many of the young athletes sailing in Aarhus next week are dreaming and scheming of what they have to do, and how hard they have to work, to realise the dream of Tokyo gold in four years time…but the first steps for many will be taken next week in Aarhus.
1999 Charlie Cumbley, GBR
2000 George Kontongouris, GRE
2001 Chris Brittle, GBR
2002 Chris Brittle, GBR
2003 Marin Misura, CRO
2004 Tapio Nirkko, FIN
2005 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic, CRO
2006 Mark Andrews, GBR
2007 Jan Kurfeld, GER
2008 Giles Scott, GBR
2009 Jorge Zarif, BRA
2010 Luke Lawrence, USA
2011 Arkadiy Kistanov, RUS
2012 Martin Robitaille, CAN
2013 Jorge Zarif, BRA
2014 Anders Pedersen, NOR
2015 Ondrej Teply, CZE
Event website: 2016.finnsilvercup.org