Sailor Nicole van der Velden “We knew it was a wild shot”

Leading up to the Nacra 17 Worlds we will be presenting various sailors and coaches to you. Nicole van der Velden of Aruba will kick of.

Who will you be sailing with?

“I will be sailing with Tomer Simhony from New Zealand. Where I’m from, Aruba, sailing isn’t a really common sport to practice, so for me it was really hard to find someone to sail with. I came across a facebook post in which Tomer was looking for a skipper to sail with on the Nacra 17 and immediately replied. We both knew it was a bit of a wild shot, but we went for it and are currently sailing together. We have done that since the World cup in Palma and are continuing together towards the Worlds. In between I had to go back for a few weeks to Aruba to do my High school exams. So, currently I am representing New Zealand.”

What are your ambitions in Nacra 17 sailing?

“My goal and dream is to win an Olympic medal. I love sailing and everything around it and I want to work as hard as I can to be the best I can be. I have been training in Scheveningen the first week of June and will be there the whole month of July.

How different is sailing in Aruba with sailing in Holland?

Sailing in Holland is definitely nothing like Aruba. When you’re standing on the beach and feel the cold water you start doubting why you’re planning on sailing there. But once you’re on the water, you get the same amazing feeling as if you where sailing on Aruba and you kind off forget about the cold and brown water. But then again every place in the world is different. There’s not one sailing venue that’s exactly the same, and that’s what makes sailing so much fun. You never know what to expect. To become the best in sailing you must be able to sail in whatever weather there is, cold, warm, windy, wavy etc. You’re never done learning.”

You’ve sailed the Round Texel Race. How did you do?

I competed in the Texel Dutch open with Thijs Visser, one of the Nacra 17 campaigners from Holland and was going to sail the Round Texel Race with my dad. It was postponed until Sunday. That morning we looked at the wind and waves and decided not to go on the water since it was gusting up to 28 knots and we had never sailed that boat yet. It was a bit disappointing, but probably a good decision.


Nicole was born in Spain in 1994 and used to travel a lot when she was young. Sport has always been a part of her life. When she came to live on Aruba she started windsurfing when she was ten years old and competed in a lot of slalom windsurfing events. Her father bought a catamaran and she started to sail with him at the age of eleven. She also sailed Sunfish and later Lasers. She and her dad did some races every month.

Nicole: “In 2010 I had the privilege to sail in the Byte at the Youth Olympics in Singapore. In the meantime we kept on sailing the catamaran and competed in several Dart 18 worlds. In 2010 I started steering, with my father as crew and sailing the catamaran became my true passion. Last year we replaced the Dart 18 for a Nacra 500 and the double trapeze and spinnaker became a new challenge. And now since March this year I have been sailing on the Nacra 17 with Tomer. I really love this boat and I learn something new every day.”

Text: Marjolein Brandt

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