Finn Class Survey February 2020
In February 2020 the Finn Class launched a survey to get feedback from members to try to better understand their needs and thoughts at a critical time in the history for the class. Since then the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games and most Finn class events in 2020, has changed the urgency of many of the issues discussed, but the results do reveal some directions that the class should consider over the coming years, whatever happens with the Finn’s Olympic status and whenever normality is restored.
The survey received 367 individual responses from 31 countries as well as more than 760 comments totalling more than 15,000 words. We have tried to encompass all ideas in this report, but it is impractical to cover every nuance of thought presented to us. If you want to read all the comments they have been posted on the website (https://www.finnclass.org/news/172-papers). Selected comments have been included below, and are generally representative of the responses given.
In terms of continents, 270 responses came from Europe, with the 97 from the rest of the world.
The key points raised include:
• Need to create a new professional circuit to maintain the attraction
• Focus on keeping the pinnacle events such as the Finn Gold Cup elite and interesting.
• Find ways to maintain the youth element of the class
• Key strength will be large Masters fleets
• There are enough national and Masters sailors to keep the class viable for many years, the goal should be to keep the class at a similar size when Olympic campaigners move on to other events
• Being Olympic is a big showcase for both young sailors and masters. I think an event like the SSL for Finn sailors will help sustain our big status as a class.
• The class does need to become world focused, not Eurocentric. Do not overlook the Finn fleets in the Americas and the Pacific. Australia in particular now has a very strong fleet.
• The knock on effect is that the lack of hopeful Olympians buying 10 sails a year means the strong second hand market for sails and boats may drop. Many cannot afford a new Finn sail, but can afford to buy a two week old sail for £400 with enough life to do OK nationally.
• There is no set circuit as main focus as has been in Olympics. Key is to get a circuit going, accommodate logistics and have a strong moving circuit as the Dragon class has with events planned well in advance.
• suggest to create a league (like SSL), with a good prize money to keep the professionals sailing the class
• Olympics have always been part of the Finn culture. Whatever the level you're racing. Olympics are part of the Finn DNA... right from its origin
• Providing the class association stays strong the Finn will flourish outside the Olympics
• We have to spread the appeal of the Finn to all ages of sailor. The Finn's reputation for being a brute of a boat goes against it. We also need to emphasise it's a great boat to sail - very rewarding. Can appeal to a wide range of ages (and abilities).
• Keep modernising the class and make the Gold Cup very, very interesting
• For many years the Finn has been an Olympic class, shortly it will not be one, we should follow the example of the Star class and change our format, while using the traditional and legendary regattas to further our image and desirability of the Finn as a stand-alone class. We must look to expand our class and provide a top class challenge for all larger sailors.
• The class has to be filled by younger people. The boat is expensive for U23 so seniors would be the best target. The Masters and up will return to the Finn by themselves.
• We have success in attracting people who have been sailing before and now wants something more engaging and where you get a good sailing experience and have fun with likeminded.
• I wasn’t interested in the class at all until I got to 40 years old. The attraction was less the boat and more the people. That the boat is lovely to sail is a bonus to me.
• Young sailors are looking for Olympic campaign. Seniors are looking for a competitive class that give them exposure for future career in sailing or development as a sailor. We need to create more events in all levels.
• 360° cameras on boats and allow viewer to choose which boat and what view they observe. People want immersive first person experiences and so they can connect with the experience prior to trying it out.
• We should be attracting ALL ages, all types of sailors. Should concentrate on building the fleets... stronger fleets and districts makes for a stronger class.
• Need new blood to drive the class forwards. Weather or not it is In the Olympics the Finn is still a demanding class that commands respect from other sailors be it dinghy or yacht sailors
• It's just such a great boat. I would choose all four above categories – any sailor wanting to be challenged? Get a Finn!
• I can distribute paper copies at clubs to pique interest in the class versus the online edition which is harder to access
• I think Finnfare is one of the best class magazines I have ever seen for the last 10 years
• Online can easily produce more content to enhance the magazine
• I also always enjoy reading a magazine and not always being in front of a computer or iPhone.
• People still like paper
• The print copy has more staying power, sitting on coffee tables, on the night stand, etc., to be enjoyed. They can also be dropped off at yacht clubs for promoting the class.
• Online issue are easier to get but paper magazines are like paper photos, they are sweet memories
• The Gold Cup should continue to be the “Open World Championship” with limited entry so that the top sailors have an event to meet their needs. The FWM should be a top quality event as at present to meet the demand for high quality events in attractive venues with a more social/Finn family flavour. Most other Classes have not tapped into the FWM concept - this provides a competitive advantage for the Finns...
• It is better to keep one community and to extend communication as much as possible. Separate events lead to self-isolation.
• Keep the FGC a pinnacle event. Like the Star Sailors League. Winning it will still be a route to elite professional sailing. Don't dilute its importance
• At the same venue but racing held separately. So it is one big Finn Fiesta, but still maintains integrity of masters racing and seniors racing
• The Gold Cup must become the ultimate prize for the young skilled larger sailor, to do less would be to fail them and the class.
• We should start with a few regattas, and then grow from there. We should not spread thin.
• Sailing in different countries is part of the allure of the class.
• Rank qualified national championships as 'select' events if they comply with an IFA set of minimum requirements to accommodate international attendance.
• A European ranking of perhaps long weekend national championships of say five countries. Subsidies or perhaps reduced travelling would be a key thought. • Perhaps each host national association could find 10 boats not being sailed for loan or charter so only masts and sails (which could travel in bulk) need to go to each event.
• A Euro Cup circuit might help keep the younger, professional sailors in the Class particularly as there is no Olympic sailing for their weight and height, also for those with time/money to travel a circuit might be attractive to keep in touch with Finn sailing friends and it would showcase the Finn....
• It is essential that we do not dilute the quality of our major trophies.
• Reduce the physicality to widen the appeal, don't kill off the sailor's at the fringe. Don't make the mistake of being elitist because intensity of training will reduce.
• Be extremely critical with the venues - focus on good sailing.
• Create something like Star Sailors League
• It would be nice to have a European Masters Traveller tour.
• Continue the support to European events, but support events outside Europe. There is a potential interest for the Class in the Americas and it is not being explored. The more events we have the more interest will be generated for new sailors to the class.
• I believe we have an obligation to show younger generations and their parents how simple and fun sailing can be.
• We're going to miss the flow down of squad equipment so the IFA needs to work out how to standardise the rig and prevent costs spiralling. Keep the costs down, for purchasing boats, sails, travel to events and competing at events
• Pumping rules need to be looked at to try and bring the fleet closer together, huge gains to be made downwind.
• The structure of the IFA is correct and efficient, a setback is to be expected but can be overcome with this organisation. The Finn Class should make sure that the regattas and their results have a good access to the public sports press.
• The class must remember, the Olympics is one regatta a year... focus on the sailors, the fleets, hold great regattas In attractive venues, and the class will be fine....
• IFA should promote Finn as the ultimate strong and fit single-handed dinghy and emulate somehow the Star Class strategy with the SSL finals, organizing a final event each year with only 20 top sailors.
• First and foremost National Fleets should do their utmost to promote local sailing. If this can be supported by IFA so much the better. Secondly let the national fleets combine their efforts to get as many sailors as possible to coordinated events and promote, promote and promote again.
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO TOOK PART