Finn dinghy: Farewell to Olympics

It has been a part of sailing in the Olympics since 1952, but this summer, when the Finn dinghy fleet takes to the waters of Enoshima it will be its final Olympic outing

This summer will be last time we see the Finn dinghy at the Olympic Games. In order to meet the directive from the International Olympic Committee for equal participation and events for men and women at the Paris 2024 Games, World Sailing made the decision to drop the Finn class from the Olympic roster, in favour of a mixed double-handed offshore event (along with a mixed kiteboarding relay race, while the mixed offshore event was itself recently ditched for separate Men’s and Women’s kitesurfing medals).

After the departure of the Star ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, the Finn took up the mantle as longest serving Olympic class – a baton, which will now be passed to the 470 class.

The Finn dinghy is synonymous with greatness. It debuted as an Olympic class in Helskini in 1952, where gold was won by Danish legend Paul Elvstrøm, defending the heavyweight dinghy title he had won at London in the Firefly class.

Elvstrøm went on to win three consecutive Finn golds, setting the bar for a class that has been a rite of passage for many of the greatest sailors of all time. Jochen Schümann, Russell Coutts, Iain Percy and, of course, four-times Gold medallist Ben Ainslie fill the roll of honour.

With a 69-year Olympic history, the Finn is the longest standing item of Olympic sailing equipment, having been designed in 1949 by Swedish canoe designer, Rickard Sarby. The 1952 Games was also the first time the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China took part, women track athletes ran no further than 200 metres, and the Fosbury flop hadn’t been invented, so seismic have the changes been to the modern Olympics since its introduction.

Finn dinghy class secretary, and author of several books on its history, Robert Deaves explains: “For many sailors, back then and today, the Finn became a lifestyle choice as much as an Olympic sport. Sailors would immerse themselves in a training routine, devoted to living and breathing the boat. The boat came to exemplify the Olympic motto of ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’, as the sailors challenged themselves to become faster, better and stronger.

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