Mar 27, 2012

Olympic Trials at Santander: Q&A with Thijs Visser

Thijs Visser , F18 World Champ with Coen de Koning in 2009 and together top current F18 crew, also participated as helm at last F16 Worlds. He will be campaigning for Rio 2016 and was present at Santander trying all boats. Below his personal view on the trials. 
Left: Thijs and Celine Van Dooren, also on previous post on the Blue Marstrom Tornado. A new experience for some racing mixed....he .I will get Celine's view later!
- CSN:First, did you recover your stuff?? how was that?
Thijs Visser: No, I didn't recover my phone, wallet or sailing watch. Too bad, it never happened to me before! Luckily there are always other sailors to help you out! Thanks guys!

- With whom did you sail? Sailed together before?
Sailed with Celine van Dooren. She won the F16 Worlds with Bundy last year and she is a though crew. I was happy to let her do the hard work, so could sit at the back holding the tiller for a while… No!
I think we made a good team! We never sailed together before, but we know each other quite well.
ISAF selected two dutch sailors for the mixed multihull trails: one man and one woman, that's how we end up sailing together last week.
I was part of the group of test sailors, not one of the manufactures teams. Our subscription went true the Dutch Sailing Association and we were testing the boats for the ISAF equipment committee.

- A report was due after each sail?
After each session on the water we had to fill in a evaluation form on each boat you sailed with. They asked us mostly about the performance of the boat in different conditions while racing, but also about sheet loads, ideal crew weight, safety, boat layout and our excitement for the boat.

- Did you sailed all boats?
Yes everybody did. They tried to have each team on each boat for 3 times. First session to get used to the boat, second one to race it in flat water and the third session to race it in the waves. The plan was to test 4 boats boats a day, but because of the wind conditions that wasn't the case, so not everyone was able to get all three sessions on all boats.

- Which boat in your opinion was the best suited for Mixed ?
I think the Nacra 17 is the best suited for mixed sailing. It is the right size and I really like the technology behind it! It is challenging to sail, but not to much in a physical demanding way, which is good for mixed teams I think. If you sail it well it pays a lot. It might not had the time to be as fine-tuned like the Tornado or Viper, but it is already is a joy to sail. The curved boards work really well and it gives more options and tacking and gybing goes really fast.

- Which was the overall best beyond mixed, like as a personal feel at helm for ie.
It's difficult! I really liked the Tornado for example. Everything just works on that boat. It is steering very nice and it's fast, but you really don't want to underlay with that boat. The T is horrible to tack compare to the newer, smaller and lighter designs and I like a boat that tacks and gybes easy because of the more strategical and tactical options you will get during racing. The Viper and the Nacra F16 are a joy to play with, there are very easy to sail and nice to race. But for me the feel a bit small and more like a step back coming from F18's. At the end the boat I am the most excited about is still the nacra 17.

- Which should be finally selected and why?
I've been thinking a lot about this these last couple months and I think the selected boat should be exciting to sail and watch. Like the sailing on the AC45's and 49ers the people watching the racing should immediately see that these boats are hard to sail and that the people sailing them are professionals. If I am going to do a Olympic Campaign I like it to be a boat which will be a step into the future, so it's design can last for decades. (Although I hope we will have 2 cat classes in 2020!) The boat should also have a high quality so it would be able to sail competitively for two seasons or more. I think the boat that suites those criteria best will be the Nacra 17.

- Any other consideration you want to inform?
These trials were not only a good way to test the different boats, but for me it was also a way to test the concept of the mixed teams and get to know other people like me how might be interested to do a Olympic Campaign. And although me and Celine had an awesome week together, this mixed sailing is quite tricky… It will be nice if your coach also is a relationship therapist I think… And there are also some practical downsides like: the waiting for the girls to get dressed to go on the water and that one is able to take a pie after the 5 minute signal and the other can't…
The upside is that there is always someone with a hairdryer to make you do a quicker polyester repair during night! And it was a lot more social after sailing, I hope it will stay like that!

- How did you went on the races with diff boats sailed?
It really depended on the boats you sail with. Luckily I did not had to race the HC16, because mostly they were finishing after the start of the next race.

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