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Home Grown: Sparking life into the Finn Class
Report by Tad Springer - Photos by John K. Fuller

(October 30, 2006) The Finn’s future was dramatically displayed at the recent Olympic Pre-Trials, hosted by Newport Harbor Yacht Club in Newport Beach, CA. The fact alone of being the largest fleet of all the Pre-Trials classes is extraordinary, but a closer look reveals something equally exceptional. Of the 38 sailors competing, 28 were from California, with Newport Harbor Yacht Club currently having 23 Finns. The NHYC fleet now represents the largest fleet in North America, and likely ranks as one of the largest in the world.

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The growth of this fleet didn’t just happen or evolve on its own; it was built through a thoughtful and proven process. Nurturing enthusiasm, educating, planning, and constant communication is the result of a vision less then 12 months old. Certainly having the trials in our own backyard helped with the vision, “it is always important to have a point to journey towards, but in the end it’s the journey that counts.” The fleet represents several generations, but the stability of growth in our fleet is in the more mature versus the Olympic aspirant. A majority of our fleet spent their youth in the Finn, but more importantly age has opened the door to a new sector that wasn’t available in their youth, whereas “what you lose on top, you tend to pick up around the middle and all of a sudden you’re Finn Size.”

On any Sunday you will find 5 to 10 boats rigging up for an informal training secession, and while the competitive spirit is alive, friendship and comradely are the binding substance of our fleet. The NHYC fleet is planning to travel to Florida for several key regattas, which include the Coaches Regatta in Clearwater, FL (December), Miami Olympic Classes Regatta (January), and the class Midwinters in Ft. Lauderdale (February). Next year also presents the opportunity for travel to Europe and sail the Masters Gold Cup in Spain and hit part of the European Circuit prior to returning to Newport for training leading up to the Trials.

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Our fleet continues to grow, which I attribute to both the visible fun a bunch of old guys are having along with the majesty of the boat itself. The Finn has a complex simplicity that rewards the ability to solve simultaneous multivariable situations, but beyond any aspect it rewards fitness. This has been a life benefit to many members of our fleet; they are training in the gym, cycling, indoor rowing, yoga, and incorporating nutrition programs.

Looking down the road after the Trials, Philippe Kahn is working on bringing the Gold Cup to San Francisco in 2009, and the Olympic Trials for 2012 could more than likely end up in the San Francisco Bay area to match the windy venue in the UK. I bought a Finn for the pure joy of sailing it; the true bonus is being able to do it with my friends. - Tad Springer

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