The 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship opens in sunny Vilamoura, Portugal, this weekend with a fleet of around 50 sailors from 28 nations entered.
It is the beginning of the end of the extended road to Tokyo, and for many it is being used as a warm up event to the crucial Finn Gold Cup in Porto in four weeks, the final Olympic qualification event.
Originally intended to be sailed in Hyeres over the same dates, Vilamoura Sailing stepped in to organise the European Championships at short notice after the French organisers had to cancel due to the pandemic.
It is the latest in a long list of events held in Vilamoura over the past few months and Vilamoura was a logical option for the Finn Europeans so that the sailors and boats can base themselves in Portugal without having to change countries between events.
This event will be the first time much of the fleet has met since the 2019 Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne, at a time when pandemic was just another word in the dictionary.
With only a few of the top sailors missing, it contains 13 out of the 17 sailors so far selected for Tokyo, as well as sailors from 15 countries who will be competing for the final European place in Porto in four weeks time.
The new World Number 1, Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland is also one of those still trying to qualify for Tokyo.
The top 10 from last year’s Europeans in Gdynia, Poland, are all in Vilamoura including the defending champion from Hungary, Zsombor Berecz, 2016 Olympic gold medallist Giles Scott from Britain, and the runaway 2020 Under 23 European champion, Joan Cardona, from Spain, whose main goal over the next five weeks is to qualify Spain for Tokyo.
Registration and measurement begins on Saturday 10 April, followed by 10 scheduled races over five days from Monday 12 to Friday 16 April.