Reprint from FINNLOG, Editor: Dr. Peter Mohilla
When the Finn became the Olympic singlehander in 1952, the IYRU used to delegate the organization of an European Championship with a crew of one to member countries who had the freedom to select a suitable class for th event. In those days it was customary – as it is still in the Olympic Games – that the host country supplies the boats for the European Championship and that each country is allowed to participate with one sailor only.
The sailors had to qualify in a local class and then to adjust to the class the host country selected and the individual boat which was assigned to them each day. Before 1954 the event was sailed generally in the O-Jolle and won by sailors unknown in the Finn class. The 1954 IYRU European Championship for a crew of one was delegated to the Federal Republic of Germany and organized again in the 1936 O-Jolle in Berlin on the Wann see. Interesting for us is the fact, that the people who were fast in the Finn were also representing their countries in that event. The favorite Paul Elvstöm won four races but had so many collisions in others that he finally ended up only 4th. The Championship was won by Andre Nelis – silver medalist in the Olympics 1956 -without winning a single race. Second came the silver medalist of the 1936 Olympics Werner Krogmann and third Rickard Sarby,
In 1955 the Championship was delegated to Austria and the O-Jolle was selected again for the races organized on Lake Traunsee. There were 11 races generally with very little wind.
European Champion became the Austrian Erndl. The Finn sailor de Jong from Holland was third, Andre Nelis 6th, Vernon Stratton 8th, Rickard Sarby 12th after he had left the regatta because of the poor wind conditions.
1. European Championship 1956
Loosdrechter Lakes, Holland, August 20-25,
15 entries from 15 countries. Belgium should have organized the IYRU European Championship for a crew of one. However since there was no suitable sailing area the Belgians gave the organization to the Outeh. They in turn selected a totauy unsuitable sailing area themselves, although they have such fine areas. The selected site was a former peat bog near Loosdrecht with very shallow water and hundreds of little islands as the left over of the peat-cutting.ln addition the water was crowded with a 1000 recreational spectator boats and the liltle islands were heavily wooded. The competitors never saw the next mark and had to decide which of the various narrows between the basins might turn out to be the most advantageous.
However for the history of the Finn it is important that the Dutch selected for the first time the Finn Dinghy for that European Championship and provided 15 cold moulded boats, some with some without selfbailers and buoyancy bags. There were very variable wind conditions so it heavily depended on the lot the sailors drew each day. Because of the unsuitable site Elvström refused to participate. First European Champion of the Finn Class became Jürgen Vogler from the German Democratic Republic, runner up the Frenchman Poissant, third Andre Nelis, the silver medalist of the Olympics in the same year, 7th Rickard Sarby, 11 th Curd Ochwadt the promoter of the Finn Class in the Federal Republic of Germany.
On the occasion of that European Championship the IFA was finally founded and had its first Annual General Meeting.
By Peter Mohilla