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Swedish Finn youth using Aarhus Silver Cup as stepping stone to Tokyo

by Robert Deaves on 4 Jul 2016
Johannes Pettersson in Palma earlier this year - 2016 U23 Finn World Championship Robert Deaves
For many of the young sailors at the 2016 U23 Finn World Championship in Aarhus, Denmark – racing begins tomorrow – this week marks the start of their four-year journey to try and qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Johannes Pettersson (SWE) is about to begin his first ever Finn Silver Cup after first stepping into the Finn at the end of 2015, when he finally got too big to sail the Laser. “The Swedish Finn Association and some other Finn sailors helped and introduced me to the Finn. After that I got hooked and bought a boat.”

He sailed the Laser all the way from the 4.7 to the standard rig, as well as keelboats and other dinghies, but finally settled on the Finn, “…because of my size and because I think it's a nice and challenging boat to sail, and of course a fun boat.”

He comes from Mora, in the middle of Sweden, but is sailing for KSSS in Stockholm. “I have just graduated from a high school sailing academy located in Motala, Sweden. So now I am going to move to Stockholm to study at university and keep on sailing as much as I can.”

Earlier this year he sailed at the Europeans in Barcelona and the Princesa Sofia Trophy in Palma, and says he has received a lot of help from both other sailors and the Swedish association as he gets used to sailing the boat. “In the long term, my ambition is to become an Olympic medalist. In the short term I will just keep on improving my skills and hopefully in a few years I will get some good results.”

But he is quite clear where he wants his future course to take. “In four years time I hope to be qualifying, or qualified, for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.”

Pettersson is in Aarhus with fellow Swede Emil Bengtson (SWE), whose father Ingvar sailed the Finn at the 1984 Olympics in Long Beach. For Bengtson this is his first Finn event, after having spent less than a week in the boat. He has just finished 11th in the Laser at Kiel Week. “I wanted to try a different boat and do something else than sail a Laser, with different people, and more food. My goal this week is just to survive and have some fun.”

They are both also being coached this week by Björn Allansson (SWE), supported by the Swedish Finn Association and the Swedish Sailing Federation. He commented on the two young sailors, “Johannes is fighting hard and seems determined that this is what he wants to do. That’s the whole reason we set up this opportunity so I can help the guys here, and so that Johannes and the others think they have the support behind them so they feel it is worthwhile.”

“Emil is pretty talented sailor. He has strong confidence in believing in himself and I think he will make some solid progression each day we are sailing.”

“For me it is a good time to transfer knowledge and give them all we can. If you start by acting as a team, it is a lot easier to be a team, and if I can be part of that by helping by them, and bringing more young Swedish sailors to the Finn, I am stoked.”

“By developing as a team we can all raise our game,” he concluded.

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