A stunning performance by Netherlands duo Odile van Aanholt and Elise de Ruyter has resulted in them being crowned World Champions at the 49erFX sailing event in Oman yesterday!
There are three remarkable qualities to their victory:
- firstly, the pair have only been sailing together for a few months
- secondly, they have only just taken up the baton from previous World Champion team mates – the now dissolved Netherlands partnership of Bekkering and Duetz whose top performances we have enjoyed for years
- and thirdly, race thirteen.
©Sailing Energy / Oman Sail
2021 World Championship Oman
Let me tell you about race thirteen…!
In a competition in which Odile and Elise performed consistently highly – recording two firsts, seconds, and thirds among many top ten placings in a field of 21 – came race thirteen which had the power to spoil everything for the pair.
Race thirteen became their most remarkable performance of the event, you won’t often see such a remarkable race …and one which might well define the duo’s exciting racing style.
Just before race thirteen began, in light-airs, Odile and Elise incurred a penalty for pumping the mainsail – like a fish uses its tail – and were forced to take a 360 degree go-around allowing everyone over the start line and leaving them in last place. That was a big price to pay when you consider that at that stage in the competition they were ‘number one’ on the score board, and so this fault had the potential to knock them out of the top three.
But no – angry with themselves perhaps from the back of the pack they sailed like they were possessed by demons – clawing their way up the ranks so that even by the first leg (of four) they had already overtaken half the fleet to turn in eleventh place. Then came a moment of genius: With all the leaders setting their gennakers for the downwind leg and steering off to the right (starboard) of the course, Odile had spotted some wind off to the left (port) and became the first boat to strike out in that direction. Others followed her.
The hunch proved correct, they found the wind they were looking for and on that leg gained 200 metres of much needed ground – enough to slide round the second buoy ahead of astonished Brazil – arriving from the other side!2021 World Championship Oman
©Sailing Energy / Oman Sail
All (do I really mean all?) – all they had to do now was keep ahead of the multi-trophy winning Brazillians for the final upwind, downwind legs. Odile and Elise settled straight into the sailing discipline which had delivered them consistently top results so far in the competition, keeping to their independent style – borrowing nothing from anyone else – they concentrated on harvesting maximum performance from their craft and the conditions to cross the line as winners of the race which they began in last place!
Over the past few years we have enjoyed following the success of sailing duo Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz – culminating in their fantastic Bronze medal at the recent Olympic Games in Tokyo. Both Annemiek and Annette have decided on taking a breather from the sport – they will remain close to the team, and Annette plans to return to competing when she completes her Masters degree in Applied Physics.
We certainly didn’t have to wait too long for more thrilling sport now that Odile and Elise have teamed up!
Victron Energy are proud to sponsor the Dutch National 49erFX team – greatly admiring their teamwork, training, and how they continually strive for greatness.
All images in this story are by Sailing Energy apart from the one below which is a screen grab from the live video after crossing the winning line – celebrating with coach Kaj Bocker who helped them to become World Champions!
We look forward to the next challenge!