May 9, 2011

Mischa Heemskerk Interview

Photo: Christophe Launay - Click to enlarge, check more at
Lots of posts been published here on Mischa Heemskerk and Bastiaan Tentij carreer, although no interview until now. But surely a good time to do it after their performance in Carnac with the new Cirrus R. Some weeks ago Mischa sent me a press release on the new boat, and I told him: 'Well , we'd better do the interview after Carnac'... After winning the Eurocat for the 2nd year on a row with Bastiaan but on a different boat, Mischa talks about the new Cirrus R/Team , his sailing background and plans for the future.
All the best for them on the 2011 season. And I make a wake up call to the AC teams: don´t let others have these two top catsailors racing against you...
Photos courtesy of Christophe Launay and Pierrick Contin
- CSN: You have been involved with several successfull F18 projects with Nacra, Hobie and now with BCM Cirrus. How do you feel now working with Manu Boulogne? Mischa Heesmkerk: It is nice to work with a relative small company. The communication lines are very short. Further working with Manu makes better solutions cause we are both perfectionists and smart technicians. We are building the boat like a super sport car. Every boat is build with personal attention.

- Already told us how you guys switch to Cirrus, now after a succesfull Eurocat, how does the boat feels? Any special difference regarding your previous boats?
MH: The cool thing about Formula 18 is that it is still a F18 boat. The Cirrus R is a super stiff platform which translates all energy into driving power. The design of the Hulls, rudders and daggerboards make the boat easy to sail off course in relation with winning designs of Sail Innovation sails.

-The Cirrus R has some special characteristics: super fat transom, quite pronounced rocker with a major 'negative' section backwards, and also the trademark volume of the Cirrus B1. Any development still going on setups for ie? the boat is easy to adapt? or is just a smooth ride from day 1?
MH: The extreme hull design with it's wide transom performs well. The rudders are a pleasure to steer the boat, accurate and no load. My personal favorite is the easy system to raise and lower the rudders. The negative rocker is interesting, analyzing aerial shots from this boat and other boats there is a big difference to be seen in the wake. The R leaves a wake print which is halve the size of the other boats.

- I think this win is quite important for both as now you can focus on training, as is clear now that the Cirrus R is performing, in fact you can have extract more juice out of it for sure. Which is the Team plantowards Hungary?
MH: The win is dream start for a new boat. Even so important is that all boats sailed without any problems and all with good speed. The plan for Hungary is to make more hours with the boat and learn about all the potential. So we can sail the boat at top speed all the time.

Photo above and both left: Pierrick Contin
- 4 years contract is a long term project, how do you forsee the class in the future? regarding designs innovation and popularity? Does the class will need to update and open to more technology and adapt to new launches?
MH: The class is still growing and many people like the open atmosphere in the class. The design part in the class is also one of the charms of Formula 18, there are already many great designs out there. But still the sailors are the biggest part of the success and that is how it should be. The class should not open for more technology cause I am sure if we open we will go faster. But as is we have competitive racing and a 5 year old boat with good sails is still a winner.

- When do you started sailing cats?
Ha ha, that is a good one. At the age of 1 mom and dad took me on the boat. At the age of 4 my dad took me sailing on the catamaran and since age 8 I have been racing catamarans.
Together with my dad we have been building full carbon 23feet cat to win the Round of Texel, we got to third with the machine.
Building a boat taught me a lot and after the boat was strong enough we started building our own sails in the garage.
In 2000 I made my own Formula 18, the Hunter.
In 2001 I started an Olympic campaign with Sven Karsenbarg on the Tornado.
My first ever Tornado Europeans we finished 4th equal points we number 3. That was the beginning of 7years Olympic sailing and in the mean time race for Hobiecat on the Tiger.

Then I got asked to do the Introduction of the Nacra Infusion and won Carnac with the boat in the second year.
Later did introduction of the Wildcat and won Carnac with the boat in the second year and now for Cirrus again won Carnac but in the first year.
Among all these adventures I raced on the Extreme 40's which is the type of sailing I love. Intense, short, complicated, team work and fast.

- Is this the best time to be a catsailor? does the multihull community can take advantage of the extra exposure of the AC?
MH: The AC helps a lot with exposure and recognition for the cowboys as catamaran sailors are normally called.

- Your work as coach; the best sailors are the ones with a special feel on the boats, or hard pure hours on the water will do the job?
MH: The best sailors are the ones with a special feel on the boat and who enjoy sailing.

- All the top guys seems to have a common good disposition on sharing their knowledge, this is a rule in other classes too? or Catsailing has a different attitude in this subject too?
MH: It is the best part about the class, all information is out there. It is my philosophy to share the knowledge and make others better so I get better by the competition. It seems to work cause in the top of many regatta's the Dutch are there. And we have a big group of racers who are frequently at the races to enjoy their cat's.

Plans for the future?
MH: For the future I want to compete in the AC, want to do a round the World race. Sail the Little America's cup. Guide a team to an Olympic medal. Set up the Catamaran two on two Team race Grand Prix.

This is such a team sport and I am really lucky with my team. Bastiaan (Tentij) has the same spirit, drive and ambition which makes every day a lot of fun.
Every issue we take on as a team which makes working hard fun. We have been doing crazy hours lately and than is really rewarding if you do well.
Big part of the success is all the people behind us who are supporting us. Mom and dad who are always there, my super Girl Carrie who listens and advises in all sailing quests. All our sponsors and suppliers who are behind us and who we proudly represent.

Thank you all,

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