World sailing

Finnish sailors fire a salute at World Sailing

Paris2024: Finnish sailors fire a salvo at World Sailing

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ May 17, 2019 02:13 UTC
May 17, 2019

The brutal Finn Class demands big strong sailors European Finn Championships, May 2019 – Athens International Sailing Center © Robert Deaves / Finn Class

Henr-Lloyd 2021 For the Love of Bad Weather MPU

Winner of four Olympic gold medals, Paul Elvstrom pictured with his Finn at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki © SW

Ben Ainslie just after winning his fifth Olympic medal and his fourth gold medal at the 2012 Olympics © Richard Gladwell

In an open letter to World Sailing, but of course to all sailors in the world, under the banner of the “Future of Sailing”, the competitors of the 2019 European Championships taking place in Athens called for the reinstatement of the class to the Olympic sailing regattas in Paris.

The letter was sent on the eve of the Mid Year Meeting of the world sailing control body. The meeting lasts three days and takes place at Chelsea Football Club in London.

Their advocacy is also made on behalf of men over 85 kg, who now have no class to participate in the Olympic regatta.

The letter follows an impassioned speech at the opening ceremony of the European Championship calling for the class to be reinstated, for World Sailing to stop discriminating against men of above average weight and height. The scripted presentation mentioned actions that could be taken by the class, including a complaint to the Court of Arbitration for Sport based on physical discrimination.

An excerpt from the 2024 Events and Equipment Task Force report, presented at World Sailing’s 2018 mid-year meeting in London, admitted that men over 90kg would effectively be barred from the Olympics after 2020 in Tokyo. The average weight of Finnish sailors at the 2018 Worlds in Aarhus, Denmark was 96.7kg.

… The WP recognizes that there may be athletes at the ends of the size range for current Olympic events who may find they do not have a suitable option for 2024. This problem is particularly acute for men over 90 kg.

The full report can be downloaded by clicking here

A survey of sailors’ physique carried out in Aarhus, Denmark, during the 2018 Olympic-class Combined Worlds shows that apart from the Finn, only two competitors in the survey weighed more than 85kg.

It is clear that the physical data of the group of Finnish sailors is far beyond that of other classes. The usual progression to the Finn is from the Laser as sailors struggle to maintain their weight in the Laser or decide to bulk up for the Finn.

The Nacra 17 is more complex with male and female crews sailing in different roles. In the sample, there were 20 male coxswains and only 8 male crew. In the male crew weight distribution, there was only one crew at 90 kg. The combined weight of a crew is neither indicated nor recorded. For example, a lightweight female coxswain would likely team up with a heavier male crew, and vice versa. Overall, one would expect the righting moments of the combined crews to be similar. There is no relationship between the sailor’s physical attributes and his finishing place or ranking, but as this was not an open entry regatta, it must be assumed that the sailors’ physiques are competitive , that is, they sail the right boat for their physical attributes.

For comparison, the maximum weight of a men’s lightweight rower at the Olympics is 72.5 kg and the height of a lightweight rower is 1.80 m. The average weight of an American man is 89 kg and his height is 1.75 m. The average weights and heights of men in the UK, Europe and Scandinavian countries are similar. The average crew weight on an America’s Cup AC75 is 90 kg. Comparing population averages to sailing averages, outside of the Finnish group, Olympic sailors are lighter and taller than average. (NB the population averages are probably taken from a sample of the general population rather than a group aged 20-35 which would cover most seafarers in Aarhus.)

The writing of the open letter reads as follows:


We are writing to express our deep concern over the withdrawal of the Finn class from the 2024 Olympic Games by World Sailing and to request the reinstatement of a class suitable for male athletes over 85 kilograms.

While we understand that the primary reason for this decision was to give preference to mixed event categories, the removal of the Finn class eliminates a huge Olympic sailing group that includes every male athlete over 85 kilograms. Historically, athletes in this category have contributed significantly to the sport and the popularity of this category continues today. At the recent Aarhus World Sailing Championships in Denmark, 42 ​​nations came together and competed with Finn class athletes, making the Finn the third largest class in the competition.

Not only is the popularity of the Finn class undeniable and the suppression of this class at the expense of the Olympics, but it also discriminates against many sailors. Despite the initial working group and the respect expressed by the Chairman of the World Sailing Events Committee for World Sailing Regulation 23 and the 70/17 policy of “all physical”, the category of men over 85 kilograms has been discriminated against and effectively excluded from competition because of equipment. Characteristics. For more evidence of this detrimental phenomenon, please see page 17 of the attached document, which illustrates that all male seafarers are in the 70-85 kilogram range.

Removing the Finn class from the Olympics violates World Sailing rules and policies and disregards the principles of the Olympic Charter regarding non-discrimination of physique, and limits access to many sailors. Therefore, we urge you to reinstate a class, such as the Finn, suitable for male athletes over 85 kilograms to ensure fair access for all sailors and to avoid the implementation of discriminatory World Sailing rulings. .

In the hope that a correction will be made without the need for further action, we remain at your disposal for a constructive dialogue on this subject at the address indicated in the header of this letter.


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For all links to live coverage of sessions and agendas, click here

Many thanks to Daniel Smith of World Sailing for putting together this comprehensive information.

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