With just three days to go before the first races of the 2013 Finn Gold Cup in Tallinn, Estonia, sailors are making their final preparations for the major Finn Class event of the year.
Almost 100 of the world's top Finn sailors have gathered in Tallinn for the 58th running of one of the oldest, most traditional, and most challenging of all dinghy world championships. Its unique heritage is embodied in the list of winners and competitors covering three generations, who now form the backbone of much of the world's sailing elite. It is an extraordinary championship to sail in and an outstanding achievement to lift the valuable trophy.
Among the many sailors in Tallinn competing in their first ever Finn Gold Cup is Max Salminen (SWE). No stranger to winning, with an Olympic gold medal in the Star already, he said, 'I'm stoked to be sailing my first Finn Gold Cup. It's a trophy with many well known names on it. And it would look so cool with the golden waves on my already golden WB sail.'
On his transition from the Star to the Finn, 'I'm super happy with the way things are going so far. I didn't know what to expect really but the hard work has paid off.' Salminen also improved his confidence by winning the Swedish Championship two weeks ago, against Bjorn Allansson (SWE) in second and his former Star helm Freddy Lööf (SWE) in third. Lööf says he was sailing 'just for fun' and, 'the Finn is such a great fitness and motivation tool... it's great to be back and do the kind of sailing I know how to do.' Of course it was Lööf who won the first of his three Finn Gold Cup victories back in 1994, when the event was first sailed in Estonia, in Pärnu.
Lööf has also been helping Allansson with some training in Sweden in the run up to the event, along with veteran sailor Gus Miller (USA). Allansson said, 'Training with these stars and legends is awesome, and a bit of a dream come true.' Salminen concluded, 'Next week, I hope that we will get fair racing and a good event. For my own performance I hope to be able to sail the medal race.'
Lauri Vainsalu (EST) is currently Estonia's highest ranked sailor on the ISAF World Rankings, in sixth, as well as being from the host club. He said, 'Having it here in my home club is great. It is great not to travel anywhere, to stay home and to sleep in my own bed while sailing a high level event. That's something that usually never happens. Hopefully I'm able to use my home water advantage well.'
'Finn sailing has become more alive here because of this event. Non active Finn guys are coming back and will take part and there will be one totally new guy who's going to try the Finn at this event. So definitely the Finn Gold Cup has had positive effect on Finn sailing in Estonia.'
'It also has increased awareness of sailing in Estonia. We have had a lot of stories on national TV about this event. We have taken a Finn to a TV studio and there was big welcome event at the airport when gold cup arrived and there will be many other stories. So we are always trying to show people more inside views of sailing. Mainly people see sailing as a recreational activity and they don't know that much about the athletic and high level sport side of sailing.'
While not an official class Junior Championship, there is still a lot of competition to be the top junior at the world championship. The favourite has to be the current Finn Junior World Champion Jorge Zarif (BRA), which he won in July for the second time. He skipped the recent Europeans, preferring to train back home in Brazil, though he has high ambitions for this week.
He explained his programme since the Silver Cup win. 'I just did gym in the first week after the silver cup, as I was really tired . Then I sailed one week with Bruno Prada [BRA] in Ilhabela, a huge island on the coast of our province São Paulo, then one more gym week in São Paulo, and one more sailing week in Ilhabela. Then I had a week in the university just to show the teachers that I am still alive.'
On the response back home to his Silver Cup win 'It was nice, my family and friends were very happy for me. But nothing has changed in terms of support, sponsors or visibility of our sport. It's sad because we have the greatest Brazilian Olympic athlete in Robert Scheidt, the Games in three years and it is still very hard to have good conditions to compete.'
The Finn Gold Cup means a lot to Zarif, already an experienced sailor though still very young. 'I was a kid when I saw the 2004 Finn Gold Cup in Rio. On the last day of the championship my father won one race. He beat guys like Rafa, Mateusz, Ben and Jonas and I think in that moment I decided that I would like to be a Finn sailor.'
Jake Lilley (AUS) was the runner up behind Zarif at the Silver Cup, and was also the runner up at the Junior Europeans, though that time behind Peter McCoy (GBR). Since the Europeans, 'I've been at home in Australia training hard and making sure I am as prepared as I can be come the Gold Cup.'
He is also sailing his first Finn Gold Cup. 'I am really excited to sail the Gold Cup. It's such a prestigious event with all the highest calibre sailors in the world competing. It's a daunting task and I can't wait to compete in the event I've watched all through my childhood and only dreamed of sailing at. So far the season has been one big learning curve. I'm young and mistakes are common but I'm trying to learn from that and move forward as quickly as possible.'
More interviews will follow over the coming days and of course during the event next week.
by Robert Deaves
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10:10 AM Thu 22 Aug 2013GMT
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