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Finn Class launches sustainability and environmental objectives

by Robert Deaves 13 Feb 2018 08:01 PST
Finn Class © Robert Deaves

To coincide with the start of the 2018 European sailing season, the Finn Class is pleased to announce the beginnings of an environmental and sustainability agenda that could impact on its events and sailors, and guide the class's own event strategy, in future years.

The objectives are simple, minimise the impact of events on the local environment, and minimise the long-term impact of the sport on the global environment.

At the moment this is purely a Finn Class Executive Committee proposal following a clear directive from the Finn Class Council at the 2017 AGM to make a proposal. The next stage is to take this to Council at the 2018 AGM, for discussion and hopefully, ratification. The new policy will encourage event organisers to adhere to the class's sustainability guidelines as well as those of the World Sailing Sustainability Agenda 2030.

Objectives
The whole issue is very simple, yet also very complex to administer, so this first phase is an attempt to set down the objectives of the Executive.

In brief, these include:

  • Reduction use of single use plastics and waste paper at events
  • Sustainable event strategies to minimise road mileage and air travel
  • Investigation of fuel saving by boat sharing, speed limits, incentives and restrictions on coach activity
  • Better availability of fresh water at events
  • Recycling stations at events
  • Encouraging and incentivising best practice and greener construction and manufacturing processes to increase the longevity of equipment and minimise pollution
  • Increasing awareness and responsibility of sailors, coaches and stakeholders
  • Continuing to provide a healthy and sporting pathway for life, from the impressionable U23 sailors to the huge fleet of experienced and knowledgeable Masters and Legends in the class.

In three areas the Finn class is already ahead of the game.

Age demographics
There are very few classes that actively encourage and cater for sailors from 16 to 86 years old, yet the Finn class not only includes categories in its events for all age ranges, but has active sailors in all of them, from the U23 group, right up to the Legends and Super Legends.

The Finn class offers an all-inclusive sport for life.

Longevity of equipment
The Finn class is already renowned for the longevity of most of its equipment. Finn hulls can remain competitive for many decades. Most famously Ben Ainslie's 'Rita' was used to win three Olympic gold medals. Across the fleet, 20-30 year old boats are still raced successfully. After a period of transition and development in the 1990s, the current carbon masts are also very reliable and have a huge competitive lifespan.

This is not only good for the sailor's pockets but also for the environment, with very few boats ending in landfill. It is often said, "Once a Finn sailor, always a Finn sailor" but it is also true "Once a Finn, always a Finn." Some do seem to last forever.

The knock-on effect of this is that much of the equipment maintains up to 75 per cent of its value long after purchase, further reducing campaign costs. Additionally, there is an ample supply of good quality used equipment available at good prices.

Sustainable event strategy
The major expense of an Olympic campaign is not always the purchase of equipment, but the travel and logistics of an increasingly complex and expensive annual circuit of events. While the Finn class is already one of the cheapest of all Olympic dinghy classes to campaign, a sustainable event policy can make a huge difference to the annual campaign costs as well as a significant environmental difference. The event strategy and calendar can also be built while bearing in mind the objective of limiting sets of equipment to one.

For the 2018 European season the Finn class had the opportunity to encourage a circuit that would minimise travel by scheduling its championships between existing events, both in terms of calendar and location. The calendar starts with the European Championships in Cádiz in western Spain and ends up in Aarhus, in northern Europe, for the world championships. By planning in his way, the class estimates it has reduced each sailor's mileage by at least 2-3,000 km. Multiply that by 100 sailors and that is at least 200,000 km, or around 20,000 litres of fuel, saved.

Common sense
Most of the objectives above can be achieved through increasing the awareness and education of sailors and stakeholders, as well as providing incentives to change the way everyone operates. It is not complicated stuff, most is just common sense, but it does perhaps sometimes need a bit of a nudge to remember and implement simple, but wide ranging change to maintain and improve the environment in which we as sailors derive so much pleasure.

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