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Finn Legends Reunite 47 Years After Brush With Death In Dun Laoghaire

8th September 2017
György Fináczy (left) with Gerardo Seeliger, the IFA president of honour who celebrates his 70th birthday this week György Fináczy (left) with Gerardo Seeliger, the IFA president of honour who celebrates his 70th birthday this week Photo: Robert Deaves/IFA

#Finn - For the more veteran sailing enthusiasts, Johnny Durcan’s recent brush with death may have brought to mind a similar incident in Dun Laoghaire during the 1970 Finn Europeans.

“I was completely waterlogged. My lungs were full of water. I had given up,” says Gerardo Seeliger of that fateful day on Dublin Bay when his Finn came a cropper in high winds.

However, much like Australia’s Simon Hoffman and Spain’s Santiago Alegre went to Durcan’s rescue, Seeliger owes his own life to Hungarian Finn sailor György Fináczy — who had spotted the Spaniard’s upturned hull and abandoned his own race to pull him out of the water.

Back then, Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain, placing restrictions on its citizens’ travel abroad. That meant Fináczy was unable to receive the special prize for good sportsmanship from the Spanish Olympic committee as nominated by Seeliger.

However, sailing competitions were an exception — prompting the inaugural Palamos Christmas Race, which started with just Seeliger and Fináczy but soon grew into one of the world’s premier Finn class events.

It’s 47 years since that dramatic day in Dun Laoghaire, and both Seeliger and Fináczy have since become legends in their class. This week they met for the first time in 30 years at the Finn Gold Cup in Hungary, where Baltimore’s Fionn Lyden and Donaghadee’s Oisin McClelland, at 44th and 49th respectively overall, are battling for position going into day five.

Published in Tokyo 2020
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Olympic Sailing features a variety of craft, from dinghies and keelboats to windsurfing boards. The programme at Tokyo 2020 will include two events for both men and women, three for men only, two for women only and one for mixed crews:

Event Programme

RS:X - Windsurfer (Men/Women)
Laser - One Person Dinghy (Men)
Laser Radial - One Person Dinghy (Women)
Finn - One Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) (Men)
470 - Two Person Dinghy (Men/Women)
49er - Skiff (Men)
49er FX - Skiff (Women)
Nacra 17 Foiling - Mixed Multihull

The mixed Nacra 17 Foiling - Mixed Multihull and women-only 49er FX - Skiff, events were first staged at Rio 2016.

Each event consists of a series of races. Points in each race are awarded according to position: the winner gets one point, the second-placed finisher scores two, and so on. The final race is called the medal race, for which points are doubled. Following the medal race, the individual or crew with the fewest total points is declared the winner.

During races, boats navigate a course shaped like an enormous triangle, heading for the finish line after they contend with the wind from all three directions. They must pass marker buoys a certain number of times and in a predetermined order.

Sailing competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to take place from 27 July to 6 August at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. 

Venues: Enoshima Yacht Harbor

No. of events: 10

Dates: 27 July – 6 August

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Dates

Sailing competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to take place from 27 July to 6 August at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. 

Venue: Enoshima Yacht Harbour

No. of events: 10

Dates: 27 July – 6 August

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