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Coach of the Dutch team Sven Karsenbarg has been sailing multihulls for more than 25 years and has been campaigning for the Olympic Tornado 2004 himself. He has been coaching (youth) teams since then, from the high performance 29er and 49er to 470 and now the Nacra 17. Building a top team is his biggest challenge. “It gives me energy when talent knows to surprise me and I have to create an environment in which they can.”

How is the Dutch Nacra 17 campaign to Rio been set up?

“We have eight sailors and three boats at the moment. Three women at the helm and five men crewing. They train and sail together, but not always in the same teams. This Worlds the teams are Renee Groeneveld/Karel Begemann, Mandy Mulder/Thijs Visser and Elke Delnooz/Coen de Koning. Mandy and Thijs have sailed together for some time now and won the World Cup in Palma. They are doing well here in Scheveningen also. But for the coming Europeans we will change the teams, as we have done before. In that order you can see which team mix best and have the best results together. We don’t know that yet.”

Why do you mix the teams?

“We think it is good to mix the sailors in order for all of them to learn a lot from each other and to improve the level of training massively. Renee and Mandy have sailed the Yngling in 2008 and in that program it was done the same. A group of girls who trained and sailed in different compositions for a long time. Only then it was decided just before the Olympics who were in the team to go to Beijing. Then in a very late state some of the girls heard they weren’t going, that was hard. We have evaluated that program and the last stage was stressful for everybody. That’s why we now will make the decision one and a half year in advance who will go to Rio and focus on that team.”

Will there be three boats all the time?

In September this year we plan to continue with two boats instead of three. That means that we have to say goodbye to some of the sailors. But if all of the teams do very well this Worlds and coming Europeans we might decide differently. If all three finish in the top eight, we have to talk about that. On our road to Rio we haven’t planned the whole program yet. Only for this year it is clear: to start with three boats and end up with two. How many sailors will stay with those two boats we don’t know yet. That also depends on the results.”

Not all the sailors in the team have experience in the multihull?

“Actually that’s was the purpose of the program. Renee and Mandy haven’t sailed multihulls before, but they have a lot of experience in being in Olympic programs. They share their knowledge with the rest of the team. The others are very good multihull sailors and have done a lot of racing. So that mixes together pretty well. Everybody can learn a lot from the other and we can perform on a high level.”

The Nacra 17 is a Dutch design and the firm is in Scheveningen where the teams train every day. Is that an advantage?

“We are close, that’s for sure, but the Nacra 17 is a strict one design. You don’t have advantage in that. Off course we have made the most hours in Scheveningen, so we know this water very well. But we hardly have ever trained in the circumstances we experience now with the Worlds. Most of the time there was a lot of wind and big waves. If the weather would have been like that, it would have been hard for the teams who haven’t sailed here before and it would have made a big difference. Now it is more even and we don’t have that advantage. The only thing is that we were one of the first countries who have sailed the Nacra 17 and spend many hours in the boat, but you see now that the rest of the world is catching up. The competition is tougher. You also see that Olympic sailors of other classes like the 49er made the step to the Nacra 17. That’s a compliment to the class, but also means that there is a lot of experience in the class now. That makes it a fair Worlds, I think.”


We heard there might be a youth team as well?

“We might get a talented youth team in the program as well. That works two ways. When the definite team is selected for Rio you still have two teams, the youth team and the Olympic team, to train together. For I doubt if the other sailors will stay in the program. If your ambition is the Olympics it is hard to stay if you’re not selected. And we then also have made a big step for the Olympics in 2020 with that youth team.

What is your goal for the Nacra 17 Worlds 2013?

“We are capable to end with three teams in the top sixteen of this Worlds. If one of the teams is in the top three and two in the top eight, I will be very pleased.”

Text: Marjolein Brandt

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