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20 March 2013, 01:19 pm
Finn Class To Develop Next Wave Of Olympians
Alejandro Foglia (URU) and Agustín Zabalua (ARG) training in Valencia
Alejandro Foglia (URU) and Agustín Zabalua (ARG) training in Valencia

International Finn Class

Under the auspices of the Finn International Development Support, the class is supporting four sailors from emerging nations in their bid to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Through a partnership with the Dinghy Academy in Valencia, Spain sailors will be provided with coaching, boats, logistic support and a training base as well as opportunities for sailors who are considering competing in the Finn a chance to have five days free use of the equipment and facilities in Valencia.

If you are an aspiring Finn sailor from a developing Finn nation and wish to take advantage of the opportunities of this programme then please email Finn class executive director Corinne McKenzie.

International Finn Association (IFA) president Balazs Hajdu (HUN) explained how the programme fits in with the Finn class development policy, "Sailors from nations that are developing Finn sailing mostly experience a lack of technical knowledge, such as tuning and boat handling skills. The Dinghy Academy and its coaches provide this know-how in addition to providing a training camp opportunity and regatta logistics, as well as of course the camaraderie among sailors. There is also an economies of scale factor in the project which is vital for sailors with low funding.

"IFA is keen on further globalising Finn sailing and therefore supports projects which enable sailors to experience these advantages. The project is run in the framework of FIDeS which has been in operation for the last seven years and enabled Finn sailors from India, Venezuela and Cyprus to sail in the Olympics."

The first two recipients of the Finn class grants are Alejandro Foglia (URU), and Agustín Zabalua (ARG). Foglia is a three-time Olympian in the Laser class, while Zabalua is a highly experienced dinghy and keelboat sailor. Two more grants are still to be allocated.

Foglia, of course, already has extensive Olympic experience, having sailed the Laser in 2004, 2008 and 2012. He has switched to the Finn to prepare for Rio 2016.

"The Dinghy Academy has been providing me all the equipment to be able to sail in the Finn, because I don't have my own boat yet," said Foglia.

"I have never sailed the Finn before, so I was very excited the first time. I didn't think about how hard it was going to be or what to expect. But it surprised me how tough it is. The first time in Valencia it was blowing 30 knots and it was an extreme experience. Sailing downwind demands strength and fitness, but also an effective technique, so I have lot of work and hours on the water to come. The good thing is that through the Academy I am improving fast."

In contrast Zabalua, is a highly experienced dinghy and keelboat sailor, but has yet to enjoy Olympic competition. He is also acting as a coach at the Dinghy Academy.

"The programme is helping me to get the level necessary for racing at pre-Olympic level leading up to qualification trials," said the Argentinean. "Like Alejandro my technical and economic resources are limited so the Dinghy Academy project makes this campaign possible. It is a great honour to be part of the class.

"The Finn is a magnificent boat, tactical, physical, aerobic and technical so it is necessary to work in all of these areas. I have been making amazing progress over the last few months and even won a few practice races when the conditions suited me. I need to do much more work but can certainly say that in the three first months the learning curve was grooving up super-fast."

There are further details on the Finn class website and soon there will be applications forms posted there as well.
Robert Deaves (As Amended by ISAF)
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