Dutch sailors Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz have notched up a fantastic victory for the Nederlands by achieving a Bronze medal in the 2020 Olympic Games 49erFX sailing event!
This result builds on their earlier successes as double World Champions, and European Champions.
The Duo competed in the Rio 2016 Olympics where they finished in 7th position – so they will both be absolutely thrilled to have nailed this win!
For the sailors, this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo was all about the weather – it’s the only Olympic discipline which is at the mercy of nature.
Enoshima Yacht Harbour – the venue for the twenty-one competitors in 49erFX boats who took part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – witnessed strong winds and lively seas in the early stages of the competition – conditions beloved of Bekkering and Duetz who doggedly plugged their way up the leader board.
On this the greatest of all contests, nerves were showing among the usual top performers in the early stages of the competition. On a gusty morning a capsize by the New Zealand team, and a jam on board the Brazilian boat when they made a gybe they didn’t really need to make, cost them dearly as they dropped from second to fifteenth place.
For the Dutch team a series of excellent starts helped them to some great results. The exception to their winning streak came on one beat which proved an unlucky choice and delivered a poor finish in twelth position. But it was the consistently strong performances of the Dutch duo – finishing 75% of their races in the top six (including two 1sts) – which helped them rise, like a bubble, to the top.
In 17 knots of breeze, competing with the best of the best, and bouncing over a lively sea, Annette says that the key to success is not to drive the boat at 100% and risk a capsize, but to ease back on the throttle, maintain control and keep calm. It’s stressful, but it’s what they’re best at.
The wind fell light during the the last few days of their competition having the effect of evening-out the score card so that fewer points separated the sailors – yet still our champions of strong winds and lively seas found their way past the pack.
With such differing conditions of wind and waves each team had the opportunity to show what they do best in their ideal weather. Great Britain, Spain, and Germany had all achieved greatness on ideal days, putting themselves within reach of a gold medal in the final.
By the penultimate race – with only the medal race left to decide the winners, Bekkering and Duetz had displaced all competitors, one by one, to emerge on top – tying first with Brazil ….the winners of their ‘home’ Olympic Games five years ago in Rio 2016.
The wind was so light on the scheduled medal race day that the event had to be postponed. It finally took place this morning in just 7 knots of wind.
World Sailing has previously said that winds of at least six knots would be necessary to ensure fair competition.
Bekkering and Duetz fought hard to find the best strategy and tactic for this final battle but with slow moving boats all around them at the crucial moments they weren’t able to seize an advantage.
Sailing performance in light airs becomes much more unpredictable, luck plays a part, your wind can be ‘stolen’ by upwind competitors – and it can take a long time to recover from mistakes.
In the final medal race it was Argentina who devised the best plan and came out on top, breaking away to steal an early lead and keep it. Never mind – the hard work and professional performances of Bekkering and Duetz over the 12 previous races of the competition carried them to success and delivered the result that mattered!
The Gold medal was won by Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze; and the Silver medal was won by Germany’s Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke.
Congratulations to all competitors whose training over the last five years provided such an exciting contest – closely fought, it kept everyone guessing right to the end!
Victron Energy sponsor Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz and we’d like to congratulate all the team behind the Dutch national 49erFX competitors. We couldn’t be more proud of their performance.