Dutch sailing duo Odile van Aanholt and Annette Duetz have achieved another tremendous result, winning the 49erFX European Championship title!
The final score in the European Championships – which also allows participation from competitors around the world – was Brazil’s Grael and Kunze in first place; Van Aanholt and Duetz in second; and Sweden’s Bobeck and Netzler in third.
The event reached its climax on Sunday in Aarhus, Denmark and was one of the windiest competitions in recent times – producing some thrilling sailing!
On Day One, for example, a 30 knot squall of wind (that’s just short of a gale) caused Odile and Annette to switch from Racing mode to Survival’ mode.
(The images throughout this story provide a flavour of what it was like for competitors out there on the water!)
Speaking about that day as they began their nine-hour drive home together after the event Odile and Annette explained: With all that wind we decided it wasn’t necessary to hoist the Gennaker (the big sail used for downwind legs of the race) – we were getting all the speed we needed from the two plain sails, and all our time was taken trying keep the boat upright!‘
As the race progressed so many of the seventy competing boats had capsized that Event Officials decided to abandon that heat. Unfortunately there were some competitor injuries – but the abandonment was a huge disappointment for Odile and Annette as they were winning!
Odile and Annette sail the 49erFX Olympic class vessel, and it is the ‘Olympic’ status of the 49er skiff which explains why there was such a big fleet during the European Championship event. The Paris Olympics are now just two years away, and every sailing nation has begun to prepare their crew for that event.
A recent change on board the Dutch vessel is the use of 3di sails. This new sail-making technology incorporates a resin-and-fibre build, formed onto a three-dimensional mould and provides more power from the same sail area.
Odile and Annette were quite nervous before the final day of the Aarhus event – they were in third place on points so although they were tantalisingly well-placed for a medal, they could easily be knocked off the podium by poor performance on that final day. Fuelling their nerves – the competition so far had seen some really strong performances, from many of the teams. And also, for the final day the race course was changed – so the familiarity they had built up about the wind-and-water over the previous event races was now useless. In order to achieve a good result they had to be right at the top of their game – tingling with energy in both mind and body!
There were three races on the final day …the first didn’t go so well, finishing 9th. The second race produced first place – allowing their confidence to grow! And in the final race of the competition, the Medal race – in which errors are costly because points against you are doubled – they finished two places ahead of their arch-rivals from Brazil …achieving the brilliant result of second place overall!
Soon they will be off to Marseille to get some experience of the kind of sailing they will experience at the Olympics. And we look forward to watching them in their next big competition – the World Championships – which takes place in Nova Scotia, Canada, during the first week of September.
Victron Energy sponsor the Dutch 49erFX racing team. We admire the commitment and energy they bring to all the work they do!