Aarhus World Championships
The Hempel Sailing World Championships is the biggest sailing event, second to the Olympic Games, and only comes around every four years.
As the first Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition qualification event, it’s importance is paramount will 1,400 sailors from 85 nations registered. For all the sailors, it is the first chance to book national spots at Tokyo 2020.
For most nations, it has been a big challenge to get to this stage and behind the scenes, there has been immense sacrifice.
For emerging nations, it has been a struggle for sailors to reach this point, simply because of the lack of support and resources.
We caught up with two young Laser Radial girls to hear their stories on how they’ve made it to the World Championships.
Nethra Kumanan (IND) – Laser Radial
Nethra Kumanan is a 20-year-old Laser Radial sailor, from India who is currently competing at the Worlds.
“I’m just here to get better and improve, amongst some of the best,” said Kumanan.
“Everyone is here,” she expressed. “All The good guys, including Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Mária Érdi (HUN), and so many others. It will be interesting to see where I stand – I’m excited.”
Kumanan comes from Chennai, India, and began sailing in her home waters when she was 14 years old. She was introduced to the sport during a summer camp and learned how to sail in a Laser 4.7 dinghy.
“I fell in love with sailing once I tried it. I started to spend my weekends and holidays at my local sail club sailing for fun.
“There are not many sailors In Chennai, so I started to compete with my local club. I went racing locally for a few months but then began competing internationally.
“My school only allowed me to take ten days off, so I had to decide whether I quit school or progress in competing internationally. I decided to quit school and missed my last two years of high school, which I did manage to catch up on.”
Kumanan was selected to compete in World Sailing’s Emerging Nations Program (ENP).
The ENP creates opportunities and better prepares young sailors, from emerging nations, to compete at a high level in sailing – mainly for the Youth Sailing World Championships or the Sailing World Championships. The ENP is a set of clinics focusing on on-water and classroom training, plus much more.
“I got an email, from my federation, one day saying that I was invited to the ENP. I then joined the ENP last summer (2017). It was a three-week clinic in Aarhus, Denmark. We did physical training as well as tactics and strategies. It was great, and I got to meet so many people from across the world."
Kumanan added, “The ENP helps counties who haven’t been consistently competing in the Olympics. It helps support sailors with what they need to be able to compete and make it to the Olympics.
“I wouldn’t have made it to the Worlds if it wasn’t for the ENP. There is not much support in my country, but I was lucky to be put on the ENP and that’s where I found the support that I needed to be able to make it to Worlds.”
Kumanan has goals to compete in the Olympics and being 20 she has plenty of time. She certainly is heading the right way and competing at the Worlds is the start. “My aim is to make it to the gold fleet in Aarhus and try my best. I will be satisfied if I make it to the gold fleet and I guess whatever happens after that is great.
“I think making it Tokyo 2020 is realistic, it will be very hard but certainly is realistic. If not, there is Paris 2024,” she concluded.
Deisy Nhaquile (MOZ) – Laser Radial
Deisy Nhaquile is an 18-year-old Laser Radial sailor from Mozambique. Nhaquile is the middle child, of four siblings. Her elder brother also sails the Laser.
The Radial sailor has competed in over 20 competitions, including the 2017 Youth Sailing World Championships held in Sanya, China.
“I was going on a school trip when I was 10 and at first we were told that we would be participating in swimming lessons,” explained Nhaquile on how she got into the sport.
“After our lessons, our teachers then told us that we will be going sailing. I didn’t know what sailing was, or how it worked.
“We learned to sail on an Optimist, and I fell in love with it and I would go as much as I could.
“However, at one point I thought I should stop because it was quite expensive, so I decided to stop sailing after a few months. But both my parents encouraged me to start again and supported me to continue because they believed in me.”
Nhaquile was selected to participate in World’s Sailing’s 2017 Emerging Nations Program after she joined her local sailing club.
“I joined my local club and I participated in two regional courses. The first one selected for the worlds but I was short at that time, so I was chosen again the second time,” she said.
“I am very happy, and I thank the help of all that supported me throughout my journey to the World Championships.”
This is the first time the Mozambique sailor is competing in Aarhus. The waters are not easy to sail in and can be quite tricky with a shifting breeze and choppy seas.
“My main aim during the Worlds is to represent my country and also my continent, Africa.
“I am also trying to get as much experience as possible from this event, taking in as much as I can to help me compete in future competitions.
“I dream about representing Mozambique in the Olympics and I hope one day I can make that a reality,” she concluded.
You can follow the sailors and keep track of their performance, during the Worlds, here - https://aarhus2018.sailing.org/results
By Aadil Seedat - World Sailing