While the British have dominated the Olympic Finn class since 2000, the Australian sailing team, who won Olympic Gold in Lasers, 470’s and 49ers in London 2012 are showing potential for Rio Gold now in other classes and the Finn class is one of those.
ISAF Sailing World Cup, Melbourne Day - Finn start
The Australian Sailing Team post Olympics 2012 appointed USA's John Bertrand, the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic silver medallist as its Finn class coach.
He is ‘The other John Bertrand' (not to be confused with the America’s Cup winning skipper of 1983) had won the Laser World Championships in 1976 and 1977 and the Finn Gold Cup in 1980.
In the last quadrennium Bertrand had coached Australia´s London 2012 Olympian Brendan Casey, who embarked on a Rio campaign but has since retired from the scene, the Sailing World Cup Miami was his swansong, but not before providing a help handing for the Australian squad. Two members of that squad are racing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Mallorca
23 year old Oliver Tweddell (AUS) , now ranked World Number One after an outstanding start to the season and 20 year old Jake Lilley (AUS), now ranked 13th in the world, still a growing boy, he is now 226mm (6 ´7' and 96 kg).
Bertrand is preparing his young sailors for the European season and Sail-World talked to him today.
‘We started sailing here on the Bay of Palma on the 20th so we have had a pretty good session already and just want to take a couple of days off before the regatta starts.
‘Our program is going well. Obviously Sail Melbourne was a good success. Not a big test for us but that was the first step then Miami went extremely well and one of my goals from Miami was to take the guys to a light air venue which it proved to be- light air and they both did extremely well.
‘Just a little unfortunate Oli didn’t win but the vagrancies of the medal race just happened to be that his race was in the very lightest, flukiest part of the day.
‘In fact Giles, who won it, told me the weather beat Oli and I said if you want to give him the trophy then he said ‘No I don’t and we all laughed’.
‘But overall it was really exciting for Oli and it was exciting for the program.
‘Now we are in Europe and this is a really important year for everybody and this event is an important event because it is the first of three regattas for us, Palma, Hyeres and then the Europeans and then a bit a break and then Rio and then Santander.
‘Palma is very challenging, very challenging conditions typically. It looks like the forecast it is going to be varied conditions so we are going to be able to see how the guys do.
‘This is a benchmark regatta. So we will come out of here and see how we do. I am not focussed on the results as much as I am on seeing these guys perform well and a lot of times those two things don’t go together.
‘Execution is key. I am really looking for good starts, good decision making around the race course, minimising the risk. All the things that long term really will pay off and I am trying to calm them down to understand that getting a podium or top ten is good but it is not the ultimate goal. I really want to see a strong foundation that we can then build from.
‘They are young. They are still growing so that’s a challenge because every race, every practice race they want to win. I feel pretty comfortable we are on the right track and I am really excited about this season.
‘These two regattas, Mallorca and Hyeres together are just fantastic. We know the two venues as well so that’s good. We should be able to race pretty efficiently and again just looking for things that we can work on that will make a big difference later in the year.’
Right now with strong conditions expected in the second half of the regatta, the British squad should excel and the battle within that group should be a Battle Royal.