Crew: 1 man crew. For racing, ideal weight of sailors should be betweek 80 and 100kgs.
Dimensions: 4.5 meters in length, 1.5 meters in width and ±120kg.
Sail Area: 10 square meters.
Class: Restricted (hull shape remains the same from year to year)
Characteristics: Fast singlehander is perfect for a strong sailor who can hike out the longest.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
It all began back in 1948 when the Finnish Yachting Association were considering which boats to use for the 1952 Olympic Games at Helsinki. With the lack of a suitable dinghy in Scandinavia, they instigated a design competition to find a single-handed dinghy which could be used primarily for inter-Scandanavian competition, but could also be used at the Olympics.
A Swedish canoe designer, Rickard Sarby, entered a design into this competition and although it was not initially selected, he was invited to take part in the trial races because he had already built a prototype. Several trial series were held and on May 15th 1950, the Finnish Yachting Association adopted the boat as an Olympic dinghy. This boat was the Finn and an Olympic legend was born.
The Finn is one of the survivors of the sailing world. It has survived 13 reselections as an Olympic class and 50 years of technical development, from the wooden hulls, wooden masts and cotton sails of the 1950’s to the GRP hulls, carbon masts and kevlar sails of the 1990’s. It has sustained criticism over the years for being hard to sail and expensive to campaign but it has always won through. And in spite of all this it has strengthened its position as the worlds premier dinghy for tactical as well as technical singlehanded sailing.
The Finn is still providing the yachting world with top-calibre sailors who move from the class onto greater things. It is perhaps no coincidence that the only two helmsmen to wrench the America’s cup away from America are both Finn Olympic medal winners (John Bertrand (AUS) - Bronze 1976; Russell Coutts (NZL) - Gold 1984).
But the Finn is so much more than just the Olympics - a pinnacle that many aspire to, that few reach but that all Finn sailors can identify with and learn from. Sailing the Finn goes hand-in-hand with developing strength of character, perseverance, tenacity and the challenge of doing something difficult really well. To many, the Finn is the perfect embodiment of the Olympic ideal, wherever it is sailed, and perhaps this is the ultimate attraction of a dinghy that has thrived for half a century as a leading class on the world yachting scene.
The class these days is very different to the one Sarby created in 1949. The hull is almost exactly the same, with tight controls still in place to keep the boat as one-design as ever. What has changed is the technology available to the class. The modern hulls are now all optimised GRP with carbon masts and kevlar sails, something which in 1949 would have only been a figment of the imagination.