Please select your home edition
Ancasta Ker 33 728x90

Finn Class partners Dinghy Academy to train next Olympians

by Robert Deaves on 7 Mar 2013
Foglia and Zabalua - Finn Class partners Dinghy Academy to train next Olympians Pavlina Soukupova
The Finn class is very excited to announce a co-operation agreement with the Dinghy Academy in Valencia to fund and train aspiring Olympians from developing Finn nations. The class has committed to part fund the training of four sailors at the Dinghy Academy in 2013, with the intention this will continue through to 2016. It hopes at least some of the recipients will qualify for the 2016 Olympic sailing regatta.

The first two recipients of the Finn class grants are Alejandro Foglia (URU), and Agustín Zabalua (ARG). Foglia is a three-time Olympian in the Laser class, while Zabalua is a highly experienced dinghy and keelboat sailor. Two more grants are still to be allocated.

As well as providing coaching, boats, logistics and a training base, the agreement includes the opportunity for sailors who are considering joining the toughest of all Olympics classes to have five days free use of the equipment and facilities in Valencia. Interested sailors should contact the class and those from new countries to the class would be especially welcome.

This new scheme comes under the auspices of the FIDeS programme (Finn International DEvelopment Support), created in 2006 as a way to channel funds and expertise within the class towards sailors from nations trying to develop Finn sailing.

The Dinghy Academy is the brainchild of Luca Devoti (ITA), the 2000 Olympic silver medalist and long-term builder of the Finn through Devoti Sailing. He explained the concept of the Academy. 'We have put together a well-assorted team of Olympic champions from various countries in one high-level training centre under the guidance of some of the world’s top specialists.'

'We offer top coaching, charter Finns and a team of dedicated sailors led by Vasilji Zbogar (SLO) showing how to get better at Finn sailing and how to get to know your inner being to master it and to have a real chance at winning.'
'The joint venture with the Finn class is working at further internationalising the sport, attracting new countries to the ultimate sailing challenge, the Finn.'

Valencia has proved a popular training venue for Finn sailors for many years because of its excellent conditions afloat and great facilities ashore. This began in the lead up to the 2007 America’s Cup where sailors from various teams sailed Finns in their spare time, so it was a natural choice for the Academy.

A large number of sailors have already used the Academy for their winter training. As well as Zbogar, Max Salminen (SWE), Eduard Skornyakov (RUS), Alex Muscat Diaz (ESP), Lennart Lutkus (GER), Igor Terpigorev (RUS), Andrey Gusenko (UKR), and Alican Kaynar (TUR) have spent time there. It is into this group of top-flight sailors that the Zabalua and Foglia have been learning the ropes over the northern hemisphere winter.

Foglia, of course, already has extensive Olympic experience, having sailed the Laser in 2004, 2008 and 2012. He has switched to the Finn to prepare for Rio 2016.

The Dinghy Academy has been an essential part of his training. 'The Dinghy Academy has been providing me all the equipment to be able to sail in the Finn, because I don’t have my own boat yet. Luca is helping me to get to know the boat and its basic controls.'

Foglia explains how he is finding the transition. 'I have never sailed the Finn before, so I was very excited the first time. I didn't think about how hard it was going to be or what to expect. But it surprised me how tough it is. The first time in Valencia it was blowing 30 knots and it was an extreme experience. Sailing downwind demands strength and fitness, but also an effective technique, so I have lot of work and hours on the water to come. The good thing is that through the Academy I am improving fast.'

'Zbogar is the reference for me. He is a very successful sailor and is pushing hard all the time. It is good for me because I can see how far I am from my desired level and it motivates me to keep improving. He helps me to set up the boat, Luca is always pushing and we get always quality training. I think I am getting the feel of the boat quite fast. I like the Finn a lot. It is very powerful.'

In contrast Zabalua, is a highly experienced dinghy and keelboat sailor, but has yet to enjoy Olympic competition. He is also acting as a coach at the Dinghy Academy.

He describes how he is benefiting from the training. 'The programme is helping me to get the level necessary for racing at pre Olympic level leading up to qualification trials. Like Alejandro my technical and economic resources are limited so the Dinghy Academy project makes this campaign possible. It is a great honour to be part of the class.'

'The Finn is a magnificent boat, tactical, physical, aerobic and technical so it is necessary to work in all of these areas. I have been making amazing progress over the last few months and even won a few practice races when the conditions suited me. I need to do much more work but can certainly say that in the three first months the learning curve was grooving up super fast.'

He also cites Zbogar as a great influence. 'Certainly to be at the side of Vasco, one of the most determined athletes that I have ever met, and Luca, my mentor from the D-One, makes an incredible difference. I always knew that the Finn was a super hard boat and for a light guy the effort would be enormous. It will be one of the hardest challenges in my life.'

The Finn class has committed to providing grants to four sailors in 2013, and with two sailors already signed up, there are still two spaces left for the remainder of the year.

All Finn sailors are welcome to join the programme. Historically Finn sailors have always been a strong community, a group of friends sharing the same passion. The vision for the Academy is to become a centre to meet, exchange experiences and get better at the game. In return, the sailors receiving grants are expected to commit to specified training and a limited event programme.

If recipients of the grants do not have their own boats, the Dinghy Academy can also help. Devoti said, 'We provide them with boats, as we are doing for Zabalua and Foglia, and we can also take their boats to regattas.'

International Finn Association (IFA) president Balazs Hajdu (HUN) explains how this programme fits in with the Finn class development policy. 'Sailors from nations that are developing Finn sailing mostly experience a lack of technical knowledge, such as tuning and boat handling skills. The Dinghy Academy and its coaches provides this know-how in addition to providing a training camp opportunity and regatta logistics, as well as of course the camaraderie among sailors. There is also an economies of scale factor in the project which is vital for sailors with low funding.'

'IFA is keen on further globalising Finn sailing and therefore supports projects which enable sailors to experience these advantages.

The project is run in the framework of FIDeS which has been in operation for the last seven years and enabled Finn sailors from India, Venezuela and Cyprus to sail in the Olympics.'

If you are an aspiring Finn sailor from a developing Finn nation and wish to take advantage of the opportunities of this programme then please email Finn class executive director Corinne McKenzie at

There are further details on the Finn class website and soon there will be applications forms posted there as well.

Colligo Marine 660x82Southern Spars - 100T Clewring One Design

Related Articles

Gladwell's Line -The America's Cup settlement deal
The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the Arbitration Panel is not news The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the America's Cup Arbitration Panel is not new - Sail-World reported the same story in the first and second weeks of September. The Hearing on the amount of compensation to be paid is yet to be held. So far we have been unable to discover a date if indeed one has been set. Maybe next year?
Posted on 11 Oct
Debriefing the 2016 J/70 Worlds with Winning Skipper Joel Ronning
I talked with Joel Ronning after the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn about his team’s win at this high-level regatta. Since its inception in 2012, the J/70 has become the most popular One Design boat in decades, with 1,100+ boats sailing in myriad countries. Some 68 boats from 15 countries arrived on San Francisco Bay last week to determine bragging rights at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds. I caught up with Joel Ronning to learn more about the Catapult team’s road to becoming the 2016 J/70 World Champions.
Posted on 5 Oct
Rio 2016 - America's Cup champ says Paralympic racing is closest ever
Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar keelboat class at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The regatta is being held in Guanabara Bay on three of the courses used for the Olympic Sailing Regatta in August.
Posted on 13 Sep
Debriefing the Rio 2016 Olympics with Team USA’s Helena Scutt
I talked with Team USA’s Helena Scutt to hear about her Olympic experience, and to learn more about her post-Rio plans. The 49erFX was introduced to Olympic circles when it replaced the Women’s Match Racing event following the 2012 Games. Not surprisingly, it drew high-performance sailors for the Rio 2016 Olympics, including Team USA’s Paris Henken and Helena Scutt. While Henken and Scutt were Olympic first-timers, they put on a strong show. I caught up with Scutt to hear more about her Olympic experience.
Posted on 8 Sep
A Q&A with Peter Bresnan ONE Palma’s founder and director
Sail-World interviewed ONE Palma’s founder Peter Bresnan to learn about the company’s partnership with McConaghy Boats For the past eight years, ONE Palma (formerly OneSails Spain) has been building a strong name, first as a sailmaker and later with refit work. Recently, ONE Palma and McConaghy Boats-legendary boatbuilders who have crafted some of the planet’s fastest sailboats-entered a business partnership. I caught up with Peter Bresnan, ONE Palma’s founder and director, to learn more about this new direction.
Posted on 2 Sep
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ train late on the Waitemata Harbour
Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. The team were sailing their recently launched AC45 Surrogate test boat which features an articulated rudder gantry - taking the AC45 close to the geometry of the AC50 to be used in the 2017 America's Cup.
Posted on 1 Sep
Dateline Rio - Sailing Olympics review - as good as it gets?
The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The weather was better than Weymouth and Qingdao, the courses more varied, but from a working media perspective, it was the people running the Rio regatta who really made the difference.
Posted on 26 Aug
Rio 2016 - Plain speaking by triple-medalist on Olympic sailing moves
Triple Olympic medalist, Santiago Lange has been on the sharp end of changes made to Olympic classes and formats Santiago Lange, a six-time Olympian and Bronze medallist in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, won his third medal – Gold sailing in the Nacra 17 class. With that length of experience at an Olympic level, having sailed the Laser, Tornado and now Nacra 17 classes his comments on the future shape of the Olympic regatta was one of the highlights of the Medallists Media Conferences.
Posted on 25 Aug
An Q&A with Steve and Heidi Benjamin about the NYYC’s 2016 Queen’s Cup
Sail-World caught up with Steve and Heidi Benjamin to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup. When it comes to U.S. Grand Prix sailing, it’s hard not to encounter the names of Steve and Heidi Benjamin. The two highly polished sailors have been successfully campaigning their series of yachts, named SPOOKIE, for years, starting first with a Carkeek 40 and progressing to their TP52. I caught up with Steve and Heidi to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup
Posted on 19 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images of the penultimate race in the Finns - Scott wins
Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn, in what potentially could have been Giles Scott's (GBR) Gold medal winning race. In the end, the current world champion won in style.
Posted on 15 Aug