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:

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

The island is slowly recovering from hurricane Irene at end of August. Bridge to Salvo is only open again this week. Much debris – including large propane tanks – and many mosquitoes in the bushes. Fortunately they are not out on the beautiful water.
The twisted dock (just visible in the bushes on the left) was 4 ft lower when we used it 2 years ago.

On the ocean side shore waders eat the sand fleas, but the little crabs are too swift for all except Nat.

The crab was happy to be returned home


Meanwhile back on the Sound, thanks to Jim’s magic waterproof cameras:


The barometer crashed down bringing rain and big wind. Then it shot up:

bringing sun with the same big wind: Glen took this great shot of my 3.2.sq.m. ‘Pin-Head’ storm sail (with Ron close astern) that I’d bought from Karen M about 26 years ago.

If every picture is worth a thousand somethings then this one cost me even more when I dashed off to Andy’s Sail NC to convert my rigs to the current era. The improvement in sail stability & control is startlingly significant. Notice the 3 very short battens in my old green sail vs. Ron’s 5 full length ones and you can imagine how the green sail wobbled when the wind was 30 + mph.

Boating in Biscay & Finland Fun

Tampere Finland street art
Rudolph on the menu – supposedly cooked by putting reindeer meat in sauna for 2 days.
Sharp edge of blade easily removed glass top of sparkling wine below. Smoothly done by the sommelier who says it was a Cossack trick for horse riders in too  much of a hurry to work the cork out of the bottle. It must put a dent in the blade’s edge? Next table then wanted one opened the same way but their top shattered a wine glass on another occupied table!
Friday 17th June  My phone does not speak Finnish but it did do this Greek Orthodox church foto below,  taken close after midnight in Tampere.  It shows how you never see summer stars here.

End of the Biscay trip:

My phone is in a state of chaos after WIFI connecting in France. It thinks its Jan 1st, 2008. Thanks Keith for patching my posts. I’ll try some more now on this strange Finnish keyboard where I’m back at conference work.  No luck – my lack of Finnish prevents me finding the pictures despite a good USB connection.

Searching in vain for cross country ski supplies. The midnight sun here (Tampere) makes people think it’s summer so they are glad to forget about their snow.

Next day we stopped for a swim off the boat and then went on up the muddy Charente river, past a transporter bridge to Rochefort where Rebound now awaits its next party of pirates.

Wed. SW wind & 2 meter swells beat use back from La Corunna, Spain so we turned SE and sailed easily through the night (watches were 2 hours on and 4 off duty) and next day. Happily relaxing at Saint Denis d’Olerans just near Bordeaux. Wine should be better here. The bar at the harbour entrance (note the deep grooves in the bottom made by keels of others trying to beat the unbeatable King Neptune) keeps us afloat at low tide but also traps us inside.

Sunday, Belle Isle, Quiberon Bay. Wind and rain forces us to eat at the crèperie and other great places – fair weather sailors!

An Oban star-shaped citadel fort (17th century) overlooks this great harbor, though we doubt the authenticity of this great look out, complete with cross on top:

It does not feel comfortable to stand inside and look down on the inner harbour where Rebound is now moored.

Photos to follow when I can find a WIFI.

Saturday: At the entrance of Creusty harbor we passed the tiny church of missionary St:? who died in 600 ce. On his wishes his body was put to sea in a little boat about 2 miles north of Cruesty. 3 months later the boat plus body washed in so the faithful built a church on the spot.

Thursday June 8. Vannes, N Biscay, France
Waking Rebound (48 ft ketch from Galway) from hibernation.

Sat, June 10: Hauled Rebound out at Crustey for a prop change; which did not fit! But did clean off many barnacles.

Now on a mooring outside Belle Isle; Quiberon Bay; wining and dining while awaiting  suitable weather to head across Biscay for La Corunna; Spain.