Finns Forty Four Years Futher On

The Finn class Olympic one-man sail boat is an old classic: 

Chris in KC 59, Tom in KC 49

Originally designed to be sat on for balance when sailing up-wind, Paul Elvstr0m found that he could win many Olympic gold medals (3 in the Finn plus one in the Firefly) by lengthening the foot straps and hanging much further out over the side.

Sailing downwind was actually even less stable. The boom is very low and easily catches your back in a gybe, or trips you up in the water if the boat heels a bit; so the aphorism for not capsizing is: “Keep the mast upright”. The boat actually sails much faster if you do that too.

I learnt to race Finns in Toronto and Lake Ontario 44 years ago but weighing only 145 lb (66 kg) at that time I had much practice in self-rescue after capsizing many times.

That lesson is still being learned by the junior sailors in Toronto Harbor. Here two Optimist girls are practicing their righting skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend Tom Johannsen and friends ran a brilliantly conceived and executed revival of the old Finn group (OFF) from 40+ years ago. We had 2 days racing at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto Harbor. You get there on the Kwasind or Hiawatha (reportedly the oldest boat in Lloyds Register still operating):

The Club is over 150 years old.

 

Inside are cases full of ancient orginal, silver, brass and hardwood perpetual trophies, too valuable to be let out. More than a few have great family memories for me of events won as my kids and I all grew up learning to race in many different boats:

  

 

 We had six races in the Club’s set of eight Ideal 18s. They were truly ‘ideal’ for those older knees and backs.

 (Credit: Racing photos by Alycia Hendry – many thanks)Not that any of the OFFs have forgotten the luffing rights and rules where the downwind boat can turn sharply up to protect her wind and the upwind boat must keep clear.

A superb banquet on Saturday night was followed by speeches and stories of wind and waves, races won and lost, and toasts to absent friends: including Dr. John Clarke who was the creative and driving force behind the Toronto Island Finn fleet back then, Terry Neilson who medalled in the Olympics and Norm Freeman who hosted great races on Ithaca’s Finger Lake Cayuga in NY.

Four more races were run on Sunday, still swapping skippers and boats. The final results, with no drop race, showed just how close most were. Only 7 points separated the 6 places from 3rd to 9th.

In the end almost everyone won as Charlie Moses (sadly not in attendance) donated a case of Henkell Trocken for the award ceremony.

This chance photo catches the internationally known “Pope” of sailing, Paul Henderson, giving the farewell benediction to all the OFFs who had such an splendid and unforgettable time.

Race results:

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