The 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship gets underway in Vilamoura, Portugal, on Monday with around 49 sailors from 29 nations completing measurement and registration over the weekend.
Two of the British sailors have come almost direct from the America’s Cup in New Zealand.
While Giles Scott, is preparing to defend his Olympic title in Tokyo in August, INEOS Team UK grinder, Ben Cornish, is also back in a Finn for a while, though he says it’s not a comeback.
“Giles asked if I could come and do some training with him, in his compact build-up the Olympics this summer. Of course I couldn’t say no.”
Cornish, who dropped out of his Olympic campaign and joined INEOS Team UK after the decision to drop the Finn from 2024 is expecting a very high standard of competition.
“It’s clear to see that people have spent a lot of time training this winter and beyond through lockdowns. As we know people are looking to find form in Olympic year so I expect to see some strong results within the fleet.”
“I hope the venue delivers some good racing conditions and everyone can have an enjoyable week out on the race course.”
Completing the three-boat British contingent will be Henry Wetherell, the 2017 under 23 European champion.
The furthest travelled for this event and taking part in his first major Finn event since 2019, is Jake Lilley, from Australia.
While he has not been racing in world quality fleets as usual, he has been able to train in large fleets in Australia
“Training in Australia has always presented its blessing in the Finn. We have beautiful conditions year round and the fleet is really thriving Down Under.”
“My home club (RQYS) has 40 boats alone. It was amazing to be racing weekends with 30+ guys when the rest of the world was in lockdown. So it’s a bit of a disconnected feeling to what everyone else has had to go through.”
One of the favourites in Vilamoura is Nicholas Heiner.
After a string of podium places in recent years, including runner up at the 2019 Finn Gold Cup, he is still looking for that first major win, but says the priority at the moment is just to get back racing.
“I’m really looking forward to getting into some high level fleet racing again with everyone back in the fleet again except the kiwis.”
“We’ve only been training here three days and it’s been fairly typical Vilamoura with light winds and an underlying swell, though yesterday we had an amazing day with a really nice swell, 10-16 knots and nice waves.”
Portugal will also host the Finn Gold Cup in early May, which will not only determine the 2021 Finn world champion but also the final two places at the Tokyo Olympic Games . . . One European place and one African place to complete the Finn fleet at the Games.
With registration and measurement now completed, the first races are scheduled to get underway at 12.00 Monday, with two races per day through to Friday.