Letter: The persona of the Finn

Coop’s Corner in the September issue made my day. It was about one of my favorite boats. I picked up an old Vanguard Finn some years back. Over the years I made most of the worthwhile upgrades to it, all increasing the pleasure of sailing it. The Finn is just an awesome little boat that gets a lot of ‘bad’ press.

Coop covers a lot of the usual stuff in that department, but there is no reason to fear this boat or any of the maneuvers required to sail it. I’m not saying it can’t be a handful; jibing in a breeze is quite sporty. But with practice and due diligence it’s a jibe. Jibe a fractionally rigged IOR 1-tonner in a breeze…that’s busy, too. It’s even been said that the Finn’s self-bailers are there to let the blood out. Yes, you really do need to free the vang and DUCK.

But the Finn is just stupid good fun. As to Coop’s reference to Lasers, the Finn is a Laser on steroids. It is the most simply complicated, or perhaps the most complicatedly simple boat I’ve ever sailed. At times it’s not for the faint at heart or those not in good shape. It is a floating fitness center in and of itself. The Finn sailor does not just get on and go for a sail…they put it on, wear it, become a piece of it. It is not forgiving of carelessness, inattention or mistakes. It will let you know. And that’s OK.

To a certain extent, the Finn has a persona that drives people away, but there is no reason to fear it. It’s very manageable, and teaches superb skills. It’s a great little boat, challenging to learn and so much fun to sail. Learn the boat and practice. The reward is great…really great. One does not need to be Ben Ainslie to enjoy this boat. Proof of that is the class’s most recent National Championships. Most of the competitors were ‘older’ with third place taken by a 71-year-old.

The class’s biggest problems are the boat’s persona – its aura of being to difficult for mere mortals to sail; it’s very difficult to find boats for sale (especially in the Northeast); and there’s a lack of any class activity on Western Long Island Sound. I’d love to see a fleet develop here.

Coop’s right – get on a Finn. You will go home tired, with a really big smile.

Bill Austin, Norwalk, CT

To read Coop's September column, click here

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