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RYAN FINN: Cancer Treatments Help Develop a Southern Single-Hander By Troy Gilbert


ight years ago Ryan Finn, a 28-year-old New Orleans native, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Because of this, he had a lot of downtime during the various treatments he received over the course of that year. Growing up sailing and racing with his parents—and being an avid follower of the single-handed Around Alone Challenge, which circumnavigates the planet, the idea of spending days and nights on open water with only himself and his boat to rely on grew during this time. He started schooling himself on single-handed racing during the treatments as a means to help him focus on getting better. After he successfully overcame cancer, his dream finally came true. He soloed a 21-foot sailboat from Savannah, GA to New Orleans, stopping only once during the trip, because he realized he “was really happy offshore and didn’t want to be distracted from that.” Ryan Finn transiting out to the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre in France. Some of his preparations Courtesy Photo. for what was to eventually career. He has acquired a MINI 6.5, a 21-foot open class become his career came from areas that have nothing to ocean racing sailboat and is gearing up and training for do with water and wind. Finn states, “Fighting cancer is the 2007 Bermuda 1-2 and the 2009 MINI Transat Jacques very physical, very emotional and very mental. As my sitVabre. He is also actively seeking sponsorship for an uation unraveled from the initial tests and on through the Open 60 in order to compete in that class of ocean racing. treatments, I never really let myself get tangled up in the While discussing the challenges of single-handed racprocess and tried to keep an eye on the big picture, which ing, Finn explains how one of the biggest dangers is the was to get better. This all translated very well to solo saillack of sleep. On his first solo crossing of the Gulf he ing, and I don’t know if I’d have such an approach withfound himself being overly quiet so as not to “disturb my out my cancer experience.” father who I imagined was sleeping down below.” Since Since that first long-distance solo trip, Finn has then, he’s gotten much better at monitoring his sleep. “It’s logged thousands of miles offshore, including racing the tempting to tweak sails and course headings for hours on Transpac single-handed, sailing double-handed in the end, but if the boat is sailing close to optimum speed and Transat Jacques Vabre race as well as many others. He you find yourself awake with little to do but fine-tune, it’s eventually joined Kip Stone’s Artform’s team out of probably a better idea to catch some sleep. You may find Maine, working with Stone as he trains on his Open 50, as yourself in a situation where you need to be awake for a well as double-handing with him on several transAtlantic deliveries. See RYAN FINN continued on page 76 Today, Finn is ready to take the next step in his racing

78 December 2006