The first of four yearly ISAF World Sailing Championships will get underway in Perth on the West Coast of Australia on the 3 December. This particular Championship is held simultaneously in all 10 Olympic classes and next to the Olympics, are the most important and most charged in Olympic sailing. The Dutch sailors will be taking part in eight of the ten classes.
Under the banner ‘Higher and Faster, the Dutch sailors of the Delta Lloyd Squad are working in carefully constructed coach-directed programmes on their Olympic dream and against that background, this World Championship in Perth forms an important indicator for their progress towards London 2012.
The full Dutch sailing squad consists of thirty-two sailors, twelve coaches and six assistants. Twelve of these sailors are part of the Delta Lloyd Squad and twelve start for the Talent Team of the Dutch Yachting Association. There are also two so called ‘brand teams’, one in the 470 male class and one in match racing. This group is supplemented with three Finn sailors who have also qualified for this World Championship.
The Delta Lloyd Squad competes for the trophies in seven of the, ten in total, Olympic classes. The weather conditions in Perth, on the Fremantle coast, could be advantageous for some Dutch sailors. A hard thermal wind usually rises in the afternoon. The local population refers to this wind as the 'Fremantle Doctor'. The wind not only brings a reprieve from the sweltering heat but is also a wind with which Dutch sailors are usually very comfortable.
During this four-yearly event, the first 75% of the countries are selected which can participate in the Olympic Games. During this World Championship, several teams per country may compete but only one team per country for each class can go to London. For the Olympic Games, the total number of teams per class differs depending on the size of the class on a global scale. Laser is the largest class with 48 participants in 2012. The last 25% of the countries are allocated in 2012 at the individual World Championships for each class.
A place amongst the first four countries and also in the top seven of the ranking list at this ISAF World Championship Sailing is good enough for a full Olympic nomination by the NOC*NSF. A place amongst the first eight countries and in the top fifteen of the ranking list is good enough for a half nomination.
For a number of sailors there is also a chance at this ISAF World Championship to obtain a place in the national selection with a view to the Olympic Games. For more information on each sailor please see below.
Laser standard (men): Rutger van Schaardenburg (8-10-87) - This sailor from Delft has a full nomination. If he ends as the best Dutchman and also realises a place amongst the top eight countries at this World Championship, Van Schaardenburg is guaranteed Olympic participation (on condition of maintaining form). If Van Schaardenburg is unable to achieve this, the national selection shall be decided on the basis of results in the spring of 2012.
Roelof Bouwmeester (31-1-85) also has an Olympic nomination, but has not managed to qualify for the Olympic test event in 2011. That is why his training partner Rutger van Schaardenburg currently has better qualifications. Bouwmeester can still win the national selection but whether this happens depends on the result of his teammate at this World Championship.
Both sailors are coached by Laser class Coach Jaap Zielhuis who, after the Olympic Games of 2008, retired from his position as national coach in order to participate with Dutch sailors for prices in the very competitive Laser class. With a second place for Van Schaardenburg during the Olympic test event in 2011 and a third place for Bouwmeester during the Delta Lloyd Regatta in 2011, Zielhuis and his men are more than fulfilling this promise.
Races in the Laser start on 12 December, the medal race on 18 December.
Laser radial (women): Marit Bouwmeester (17-6-88) has an Olympic nomination. She also won the national selection. It is highly likely that during this World Championship she will also qualify the country. In other words, Marit Bouwmeester is in a very good position. In 2010 Bouwmeester finished second during the Laser Radial Word Championship.
Bouwmeester is coached by Laser radial class coach Mark Littejohn. In the previous decade, this Englishman stood at the cradle of the reorganisation of the Dutch Talent Team.
Races in the Laser radial start on 5 December, the medal race on 11 December.
In 2009, windsurfer Dorian van Rijsselberghe (24-11-88) already once grabbed bronze at the RS:X World Championship in Weymouth; a year later he only managed seventh in Keterminde, Denmark. The man from Texel, one of the Dutch islands in the North has a full Olympic nomination. With a win at the Olympic test event and a third place during the Sail for Gold (world cup competition) he has also won the national selection. Van Rijsselberghe is coached by Aaron McIntosh. This New Zealander won a bronze medal in windsurfing in 2000.
Races in the RS:X start on 12 December, the medal race on 18 December.
Lisa Westerhof (2-11-81) and Lobke Berkhout (11-11-82) are defending their world title in Perth. This very experienced and successful duo won the Delta Lloyd Regatta 2011 and came third at the Olympic test event. They have an Olympic nomination and if they realise a top eight country position at this ISAF World Championship, they will also win the national selection. Most impressive is that Berkhout has a chance of winning her sixth world title in the very demanding and spectacular 470 class. The current world champions have for years been successfully coached by Squad Coach Jacco Koops.
Races in the 470 women start on 12 December, the medal race on 18 December.
Steven LeFevre (11-7-87) sails together with Steven Krol (1-4-87) in the 470 class. In 2008, the two were youth world champions and for two years they have been part of the Delta Lloyd Squad. LeFevre and Krol are coached by Squad Coach Sven Karsenbarg. ‘Team Steven’, as they call themselves, is up against Team Coster which is listed as a ‘brand team’. The Stevens do not yet have an Olympic nomination. The Costers have half a nomination due to their fifth place in the Delta Lloyd Regatta in 2011.
Both teams are unable to finalise their national selection in Perth, but all four sailors in the 470 class will be very keen to take an important step in that direction.
Races in the 470 men start on 5 December, the medal race on 11 December.
Finn: Pieter Jan Postma (10-1-82) has recently been readmitted to the Delta Lloyd Squad. This year, the sailor from Leeuwarden managed to achieve a few top results. He obtained his Olympic nomination in the French Hyeres in April 2011. But even more impressive was his third place during the Olympic test event. Postma is coached by Stefan de Vries. If Postma achieves a position amongst the top eight countries during this World Championship, the national selection in the Finn is also completed in his favour.
Races in the Finn start on 5 December, the medal race on 11 December.
Squad Coach Mikael Lundh has selected Mandy Mulder (3-8-87), Merel Witteveen (3-11-79) and Annemiek Bekkering (5-8-91) for the match race team of the Delta Lloyd Squad for this World Championship in Perth.
This means that Mijke Lievens and Shannen Marck will not be participating.
Mulder and Witteveen have sailed many times together in the Yngling class and subsequently in the Elliot match race class. During the Olympic Games in China in 2008, the duo won a silver medal, at the time with Annemieke Bes in the Yngling. Mulder is currently 18th in the ISAF world ranking list in match racing.
In her youth, Annemiek Bekkering created a storm in the 29er class when she came second during the ISAF Youth World Championship in 2008. From the beginning of this year, Bekkering has been part of the Delta Lloyd Squad in the match race class. Bekkering was helms woman and foredecker during different races.
The Delta Lloyd Squad team recently got competition from a ‘brand team’ in this class: Renee Groeneveld, Annemieke Bes and Marcelien de Koning will also participate in this World Championship in Perth. Groeneveld is currently ranked sixth in the world ranking list. A position Groeneveld achieved together with, amongst others, Mandy Mulder and Merel Witteveen.
The national selection and Olympic nomination in this class is still completely open and during this World Championship both rival teams will come up against each other for the first time. During this World Championship, the participating match race teams are split up into two groups of 16 teams whereby all teams, to start with, come up against each other.
On 3 December the match race women will be the first to start. Their competition runs up to, and including, 16 December.
Perth ISAF Sailing World Championship website