Saturday, 15 May 2010


Among the legends in the dinghy park this week is John Bertrand (USA).
Bertrand won the Gold Cup in 1978 and the Europeans in 1979, before taking
the silver medal in the 1984 Olympics in Long Beach. This week he is
coaching Luke Lawrence.

How does he feel about being back on the Finn scene after so long? "It's
great. I've got back into the Olympic scene just by doing some coaching and
working with some sailors for three of four years - mainly Laser sailors and
so this is my first opportunity to really get back and see what's going on
with the Finns. I am coaching Luke Lawrence, a young kid from the United
States and it's exciting. I didn't realise how much I really missed it until
I came back."

"It's a very dynamic class. The sailors are just incredible. They are tall,
they are fit, it looks like everyone is going really fast out there. So it's
exciting for me to come back and see it."

Bertrand sees a big difference in the class to when he was competing. "The
biggest difference, like I said, is that everyone is fit now, everyone is
tall, and it seems like the equipment with the new boats and new
construction and new carbon masts seems to have brought some unity in terms
of the overall speed in the fleet. Back in my day with the aluminium masts
you had to go through 10 or 15 of them before you actually found one that
you liked. It looks likes they are sailing the boats very aggressively and
that probably starts in the Opti and goes through the Laser and then into
the Finn. The overall competitiveness is a lot higher now."

"Actually I was just have a discussion with somebody and the Finn needs to
stay an Olympic class. It's very physical and it suits a heavier sailor. If
you look at the competition, it's great competition, it's spread out - not
one person is dominating and you have be be fit and tactically smart. I
think it's one of the ultimate Olympic boats so it needs to stay."

What are his best memories of the class? "I think it was coming to Europe
and travelling around and meeting all the sailors from the different
countries. Even today I have friendships based on that and now that I am
coming back, a lot of the coaches here are those I sailed against, so that's
kind of fun. "

"Here this week Mikael Brandt from Sweden is sailing, so we've had a good
chance to catch up. One of the Estonian coaches, Ren, who I didn't race
against, but he was in Tallinn when we were there for the two pre-Olympics.
And of course Fabris [Minski] who was famous when I was sailing. He still
continues to be famous and now we are here at his home club."

Has Bertrand ever considered making a comeback and sailing at the Finn World
Masters? "I am giving it more and more thought. As you can see I am still
pretty small. I was small when I sailed the boat back in the late 70s and
early 80s, but it seems like with the new equipment, it might make it
possible. I am going to sail the Laser Masters Worlds this year so if that
goes well, I might try the Finn as well."

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