The four-head crew, consisting of Lotte Brasser, Sipke de Man, Janneke Kampherbeek and Auke Holtrop, had already arrived in the roadstead of Brest on Tuesday evening. “We were completely parched by then and actually skipped breakfast in the morning,” remembers helmsman Auke Holtrop. They went through all this to pass the competition’s weight check: the crew members weren’t allowed to exceed a total of 275 kilos or they’d be barred from the race. “We were 1.5 kilograms under the limit.”
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the participants sailed four races per day. “We had an equipment failure the very first day: one of the pulleys in the mast broke,” says Holtrop. “That sure put a damper on our motivation for a while. But over the next few days, things went great.”
The fact that the team’s combined weight was so close to the limit served them well: “The heavier you are, the faster you can sail. Of course, it also comes down to technique, but weight definitely helps.” And the crew was able to capitalise on this advantage. After the second day of races, which was hit by strong wind, the RSZV boat had moved up to an impressive third place.
On the last day of the championship, numbers one and two in the ranking kept a close and watchful eye on each other. “They kept this short distance between them – to make sure that the other boat wouldn’t score too many points. Meaning that they sort of forgot about us,” says a beaming Holtrop. In the final race of the competition, the RSZV crew came in second. After which they had to wait and see what this meant for the final ranking. “We started tidying up our boat, until the scoreboard said that we held second place in the final ranking. We had this big catharsis, as you may imagine.”
The crew, made up of EUR students Brasser and Kampherbeek, TU Delft student De Man and UvA student Holtrop, has been sailing RSZV’s racing sailboat since February. The next major event the team will be competing in is the World Championship in Annapolis (US) in September.