At the 2012 Delta Lloyd Regatta, Udo Hessels, Mischa Rossen and Marcel van de Veen are busy with their second sailing careers. Again, their goal is Paralympic-gold. Eight years ago, they left Athens with silver. After that, they stopped sailing, but made a surprising return in 2010.
'We’re going for gold in London later this year, but we notice the sport has grown. Everybody is faster, but our rivals are for the most part the same guys as eight years ago’’, tells Hessels at the regatta in Medemblik.
After Athens 2004 they quit sailing. The silver medal wasn’t the one they went for. In 2010, when the World Championships were held in the Netherlands, it looked if there would be no Dutch competitors. Hessels explains their decision to start a second sailing career: 'Our boat was still lying somewhere. We found out it was in a hothouse, and not in a very bad state. We started sailing again and became world champions.’’
After so many years without competing it took the three guys some time to pick up their skills. 'We were six years older, and had become different people. Luckily we are also good friends, we know each other very well. We just needed to work again on communication,’’ Rossen remembers.
What’s the goal at Medemblik? 'The final result here is not the most important thing. We are on our way to the Olympics, but Medemblik is the place we train. It’s our second home and we want to do well. After this event we’re going to Weymouth, the Olympic water, the Sailing for Gold-event. After that we still have a period of training here, when Weymouth is not be available,’’ Rossen says.
The Dutch Sonar team are candidates for Olympic gold. 'There’s strong competition with the British, the Germans, the Aussies and the guys from Israel. We know we can be on the podium. The colour isn’t the first thought, but gold would be great. After the Olympics? We don’t know yet. We will see,’’ tells Hessels.