Nearly 60 sailors from 33 nations are registered for the 65th Finn Gold Cup scheduled for May 8-12 in Porto, Portugal. Due to the pandemic, this is the first time the entire fleet has raced together for the world title since the 2019 Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne, Australia.
The event also offers nations the final opportunities to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, with one European and one African place on offer.
With Tom Ramshaw (CAN), Juan Ignacio Perez (MEX) and Luke Muller (USA) representing North America, the fleet also includes four former world champions, including defenseman Josh Junior (above) from Nova Scotia. Zeeland who has not run a major Finnish event since winning in 2019. However, he has of course, along with Andy Maloney also in Porto, won the America’s Cup in the meantime.
“Andy and I are excited to be racing next week,” said Junior. “It will be interesting to see how the rest of the fleet has evolved, and I’m sure everyone will go really fast. Andy and I had a busy schedule with the America’s Cup and with COVID-19 postponed for most of 2020 we weren’t able to make it to Europe, but we tried to fit in so much sailing. Finnish as possible. However, it was difficult. “
Did winning in 2019 have an impact on his approach?
“I don’t think winning in 2019 changes much, but I think it just showed that Andy and I were on the right track, so we have to try to pick up where we left off. For us, we’re right. delighted to check in with the fleet and look forward to some good races. ”
There is no doubt that the coming week will be a difficult challenge to defend. Junior will face Hungarian Zsombor Berecz, who successfully defended his European title last month in Vilamoura, as well as 2016 Olympic gold medalist Giles Scott of Great Britain, who finished second in Vilamoura. In the Rio 2016 arc, Scott was unbeatable, but during that cycle he split his time with the America’s Cup more as a tactician on the British boat.
However, as usual at this point in the Olympic cycle, everyone is in good shape, with an enormous depth of Olympic sailing talent and dedication permeating the fleet with the ultimate prize within reach of the world’s best sailors.
Next week’s most fascinating battle may well be the European continental qualification for Tokyo. In all, there are 32 sailors representing 15 nations eligible to take this place. Looking at the European Championship three weeks ago the best performances were from bronze medalist and world No.1 Nils Theuninck from Switzerland and Joan Cardona from Spain who took fourth place. However, there were eight other top 20 contenders and with the expected conditions in Porto expected to be quite different, it is far too early to make any predictions.
For the African continental qualification, there are two nations competing after Namibia sadly gave up. Karim Esseghir from Tunisia is no stranger to Finnish sailing, having previously campaigned for Rio. He is joined by Leo Davis from South Africa who is competing in his first Finn Gold Cup, although he has been sailing with Finns since 2009, with a deep family history in the class.
“My father Greg Davis has been very involved in the Finn class and has competed in the Finn World Masters for most of the past 20 years. He missed the opportunity to compete in the Olympics in Finland due to apartheid, but coached the Finn at the Atlanta Games in 1992.
“I raced my first Finnish event in a national light wind championship in 2009, so I’ve been in and out of the Finn quite often. I grew up watching the Finn class and am delighted to be able to compete in my first Gold Cup while it is still an Olympic class. ”
He says he was a very competitive dinghy sailor in school and won a handful of national championships but, “Shortly after school I joined the national rowing team and I followed this route. I was selected as a non-traveling reserve for the Rio rowing team and I participated in a few world championships, but after the 2018 season I stopped rowing and I returned to national competitive sailing. I managed to sail and run occasionally while rowing and managed to win Finnish national championships in 2015. It had always been a dream of mine to compete in the Games . ”
Davis is optimistic but has no expectations. “I understand that I do not have the experience compared to most of the fleet at this event, but I would like to show sufficient consistent speed to justify selection to the Games at the event and with my selection committee national.”
A series of ten races is scheduled for May 8-12.
Race details – Entry list – Facebook
Source: Robert Deaves