Huge numbers of words have been written about the arguments for putting the Finn back into the Olympic Games. Next week, the Finn class will be making its case once again at the 2019 World Sailing Conference in Bermuda to try and rebalance the proposed slate for 2024.
There are a lot of people who firmly believe that the Finn still deserves its place within the Olympics. Some will step forward and say so, while some will hedge their bets, unsure whether to stand out from the crowd. However, the question everyone is asking is how to achieve that while conforming to the stated requirements of the IOC, namely gender equity, equipment balance and innovation.
Though the proposed slate has gender equity, it does not have physical equity, which is a stated objective of the IOC as well a key policy agreed by World Sailing Council in 2017.
Since 2018, when Council and AGM voted for a slate that did not include the Finn, the class has suffered from a drain of athletes disillusioned with Olympic sailing, seeing no way to realise their Olympic dream.
These sailors are not just lost to the Finn, but more importantly to Olympic sailing, and in some cases to the entire sport of sailing. Without the Finn, or a boat like the Finn, they saw no future in Olympic sailing, no possible way to achieve their lifelong goal. Some of these sailors will be in Bermuda. Ask them how they feel about it.
Over the past 70 years the Finn class has produced some of the most prominent legends in the sport. Many sailors who have passed through the Finn Class ended up changing the world. How many of these sailors would have made it through to the top echelons of the sport in the way that they did, without the iconic Finn to learn from? It has produced world-class sailors and world-class leaders and businessmen because of the discipline and dedication required from an Olympic campaign. Just ask people like John Bertrand, Russell Coutts, Iain Percy and Ben Ainslie.
Many of these legendary sailors - supremely fit, supremely strong and supremely talented and of average build - would not be able to compete in the Olympic Games in 2024 with the proposed slate of events. Even the new Mixed Offshore Keelboat looks like it will favour sailors much lighter than any of these sailing heroes were when they were at the peak of their physical powers.
It is often said that the Finn was removed from the proposed slate for 2024 because there was no matching female equipment. However, it could be argued that to match a boat generally considered best suited to large males against an ‘equivalent’ class for females is a largely pointless exercise, because it is an artificial representation of the sport and the equipment available. The equipment chosen for males and females should be the best possible equipment available to represent the sport in all its many facets, and all the different physiques of the human race.
This is one of the many messages the Finn class will bring to Bermuda. All have been stated many times before, but they remain as true and as relevant today as ever.
• Probably the most physical and athletic sailing class in the world
• Part of the established pathway from youth boats to America’s Cup
• A supreme physical and mental challenge in the sport of sailing
• One of the most widely sailed classes on the planet
• Creates legendary sailors that inspire future generations
• Equipment is quality controlled, FRAND compliant and accessible
• Delivers consistent, exciting media coverage on schedule in all weather conditions
• The only realistic dinghy for sailors over 85 kg at the Olympic Games
Where do they go now? What should they do?
Do you know a sailor directly impacted by this decision? Have they told you it is the end of their Olympic dream? Or the end of their sailing career? For some it certainly is already, with decisions being taken right now to stop sailing the Finn and in some cases, to stop sailing altogether, by young men who could have been the future of our sport. They have been seriously let down by this process. How does that make you feel?
Have you read the submissions from the Finn class? Do you understand what is proposed within the submissions and the possible range of outcomes? The fundamental premise is that foiling boards should have two events and not three as that better represents the sport around the world. It would also free up an event for the Finn, giving both gender and physical equity.
It would allow the reintroduction of the Finn and Olympic sailing’s strongest, most athletic sailors. The Finn is World Sailing’s iconic Blue Riband event, its 100m, the event that made heroes of Elvstrøm, Coutts, Ainslie and many more and has inspired generations of new sailors. As a sport, do we really want to lose all that?
There will be a strong Finn contingent in Bermuda for the conference, hoping to get this message across. However this is not a one-person effort, but rather it needs to be a collective effort by Finn sailors and supporters worldwide. Send this to your MNA, your Council Member and your NOC and tell them why the Finn deserves its place at the Olympic Games.
Next week there will be an opportunity to ‘Rebalance the slate’ and reinstate the Finn as Olympic Equipment for 2024 and beyond. Who will grasp that opportunity?
Anyone who wants to help put the Finn back into the Olympics should contact the Finn class at email@example.com.
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