Apr 22, 2012

Olympic Trials: Interview with Celine Van Dooren

Celine Van Dooren is by now an expert multihull sailor & crew, with a H16 European Crown with Marielle Zonnenveld & an F16 World title with Darren Bundock among her achievements. This interview was sent some weeks ago, and Celine send it back this past Wednesday. I Couldn´t publish it before the isaf report.
Her experience and these pics show that she is what I call a "power" & focused crew. Just look at her body language on the 3 first pics.

The interview has lots of the now key questions on the report regarding handling, technical and physical aspects of the tested boats. She sailed with Thijs Visser at the trials, and on her answers she shows a strong technical knowledge.
 Along with Lisa Darmanin from Australia and other young girls, they are the future of Multihull racing that will  replace the work done by Nahid Gaebler,Carolijn Brouwer and their generation.
So I hope she can be participating in Rio for the 2016 Olympics  and show the boys how its done.
Also we might see her at LA F18 Worlds?

Which boat you sailed before cats, tell us about your career.
Like many other European sailors my first boat that brought me in contact with the water was the Optimist. I did not sail many other boats before I switched to catamarans. I started sailing catamarans at the age of 13 and started racing at regattas at 18. I entered the catamaran world crewing on the Hobie 16. I am now sailing the Viper and Formula 18 when the opportunities come along.

Did you enjoy the trials? And, are you campaigning for Rio.
I did enjoy the trials and sailing a variety of boats but for me I would much rather be sailing at a purely racing regatta, I love to race. The Prince Felipe High Performance Sailing Centre, in Santander, is such a nice club and great facilities. The sailing area was very versatile with the possibilities of sailing in the bay on flat water or sailing on the ocean with waves and current which made the test area very diverse. It was a very good decision to have Santander as the test location due to the choice of sailing area’s, however the uncertainty of the wind conditions was not so favourable.
I will wait until the decision on the equipment before I decide if I will campaign for Rio. It is something I would truly like to do. It will depend if the boat is challenging and yet suitable for my role as crew on the boat. Then there is the question of forming a good combination with a teammate to be successful.

Which boat of the trials did you like more overall?

There are seven boats in the race for the Olympic games in 2016 and there is a very wide range of performance across these boats. This is mainly due to the differences in sizes ranging from 20 to 16 feet and age of the designs, different sheet loads and the high tech (latest) of the design. After I sailed all seven boats this week, I found advantages and disadvantages for most. The Tornado for ie, I do think it is a fantastic boat, everything works properly, and the boat is balanced very well. However I don’t think it will be a boat where men and woman can battle on the same level if you have a look to the physical effort of the crew, and that is my own experience. If this boat is selected I would not be able to compete against the men in the role of crewing.

Which boat do you think is the most technical?
Like I explained above there was a very wide range of different Multihull’s participating in the trials. Whereby the older boat designs have to ‘compete’ with the newer boat designs, or opposite. It does not mean an older boat design has less technical design, (i.e. Tornado) but if you have a look to the newer designs of F16 and F17 they makes a huge step forward in the multihull world. However Americas Cup teams are even further in front with design, because they already tested, L or S foils etc. The curved boards on the F17 are for most multihull sailors a new experience but the question remains if they are better as they did not stand out in the racing. The advantage of the lightweight of the F16 and F17 makes it very easily to gibe and tack, if you sail these boats the tactical view is more part of the game!

Which needed more raw force or had more loads for a crew?
I do think some of the boat designs had a bit too less raw force (for example HC16) however the Tornado was a bit the opposite. It makes a huge different if the systems on the boat are set well, and if the little things are not properly working like cleats, rope friction on the main sheet blocks, crossing lines on the trampoline, alignment of the rudders but realistically this should not be considered as Olympic standard teams will rectify this. At the trials several boats had small problems, which made the feeling of the boat very different.

How were the races, any good measure on performance, or they were too informal?
The level of the sailors at the test event were very different, this was also noticeable during the racing. But the ISAF organisation did a very good job by swapping all the teams around on each boat and by also letting the manufactures teams on one of the two boats to bring out the best of their boats, which was very smart. So in short swapping teams around in combination with sailing manufactures on one boat, gave a very clear view of which boats where all the time in front, with or without manufactures teams on it. I was surprised how well boats like the Viper and Nacra 17 performed against the larger boats.

Do you think any of  the boats at Santander need a super trained/strong physical crews (helm/crew) ? or technical ability can overcome any raw force requirement?
Well this is a very detailed and very complex question, where I can write heaps of information about it. But that’s not what I am going to do, I will keep it short. I do think most of these boats need a perfectly well trained team (helm and crew) and possibly some more than the other, but the core stability of the crews is even more important to make you physically work on the boat more efficient if the loads are a bit stronger. Because I believe the boat for 2016 should be challenging for mixed teams (in both positions and women should be able to compete in both positions). However I do not think the ISAF will choose a boat which is too easily to handle or too heavy for mixed sailing. Because then you loose grip on the high performance of racing multihull, you do not want a team to spend too much time in the gym to gain weight and to keep on strength instead of making hours on the water.

You are F16 World Champ with Bundy, and I think you battled against Brett and Jason right?
How was that 'fight'?  
During this event we, Darren and I had good fun out there on the water. The venue of Maubuisson was very keen and the water was flat. That is not what we have here in the Netherlands, so I loved it. The speed of the Viper was superior compared to the other Formula 16 boats and that made it just racing between the Vipers in the front. I really enjoyed being able to compete equally with the men and racing Brett to get the spinnaker hoisted in time. The venue was very patchy and shifty being slightly in land so you had to keep a close eye/cover on the boats, which were always challenging by like Tailor & Matthew (USA), Jason & Brett (AUS) and Carolijn and Klaas (BEL). I sailed the Dutch season with Brett Goodall, so for me it was good fun to race against Brett, and Jason is such a good helm and a smart sailor. I think because the racing was so close and challenging it made the racing fun and fast!

After what you saw in Santander, there are going to be more women helming or crewing? Or which conf is the best in your opinion and experience racing mixed?
I do think this question will be answered itself when the ISAF makes a decision on the boat choice. I do think most important is that you find a good team where you can trust on and in which role you feel most confident. Some boats a woman can do both roles and others woman will be forced to helm, as the sheet loads are high. I think this will disadvantage the good male helms more as they will be disadvantaged having a female crew. This would be a shame as most mixed sailing we experience currently males are the helm and women crew, obviously there are exceptions.

If in 2020 multis get two slots, which one would you like to participate? Mixed/Open or Women Multi?
2020..hmm..Let’s first start with 2016 and see how the mixed teams are organized and how it develops. I still do think the boat choice is part of the game if you want to sail mixed, open or in a woman field. Because the type and size of the multihull will influence the team combination, and if I look for myself the woman should also be in charge for both position in an open fleet to make the multihull sailing more attractive. I think the goal of the mixed sailing is to get more women involved and trained up in both roles so we can justify having a all women’s event in 2020.

-You had some pretty hard racing on the Viper with Brett last year,  do you feel comfortable crewing in those conditions? Did you have some high winds at Santander? if so with which boat and how was it.
If you sail multihull you mostly like the speed! And that’s what I do. Sailing with Brett was very nice and cool. It was my first experience of sailing mixed for a season and I liked it very much. We could get along very well and knew what we were asking from each other. Even in the windy conditions in Belgium in 25 knots. Unfortunately we did not get that much wind in Santander. Except for the first day when I was sailing and testing the Tornado, might have had gust up to 20 knots. So that was quite a good experience, the stability was very nice and smooth, but on the upwind I noticed the fine tuning was very hard on the main sheet, due to too much load.
It’s a shame the boats did not sail on the windy day as we did not get to see how the very new designs would perform. I feel some of the boats remain untested in these conditions and it remains an unknown if the new equipment does not break in the higher wind range and if the mixed crews can handle the boats with a tall mast and larger sail area.

- Have you raced on F18s? If so, how is compared to the F16s? (did you sail the tiger at Santander?) 
Yeah, I race on F18’s as well. Compared to the F16 the design of the systems on the boats is quite the same so swapping boats is not that hard. The size of the boats does matter and you can feel that in the speed, but that is normal. The loads are a bit heavier, but not too much if all the systems are working properly. I sailed the Tiger in Santander but to be honest this was one of the hardest main sheets to handle due to the friction on the blocks. However I sailed some other F18’s the main sheet was not that rough to handle as the Tiger. So it just depends on the system.
For me I prefer the F16 (Viper) as it’s a much lighter boat and the same speed as the bigger F18 but so much easier to move around and handle on the beach and once again I am not disadvantaged strength wise against the men.

Lots of preconcepts on girls crewing, which is your personal experience? which things do you like and which don´t (if any)?
I do not know which pre-conceptions you mean...but I do think the good thing on sailing mixed is that you have much more diversity within your team like, flexibility, efficiency, force, weight etc.

I learn to sail and race cats with my wife, but on the water I always told her that we were a team racing, so things were  different and no harm was meant on any indication or rant (by my own frustration while learning). She is a really tough girl, and showed at the first day of the 2004 H16 Worlds with +20knots and waves.
So for ie, in Catsailor forums there was some funny post that can describe the scene with crews that for instance are not related:
"Fast teams share information while sailing (when necessary), not critique, postulation, or "feelings".
So... you may not have the luxury of :
"dearest crew person, it has come to my attention that perhaps one or more of our sails has become overtaxed in its current configuration by the developing wind and sea state .
If, pray tell, you find it within your already busy schedule to ease some of the tension on this particular sail control line located 24 centimeters to the starboard of the mast base with the red and white flecked cover, it would certainly assist our efforts in reducing the tendency of this sailing craft to invert.
I thank you in advance for your consideration of my request, and look forward, with eager anticipation, to your thoughts regarding this potential course of action. "

Of course this is just an extreme and a  joke, but it gets to the point, what do you think on this situation?
At the f16 Worlds when I sailed with Darren in the training he started by always saying “more cunningham PLEASE” but after a day or two on the windy day when I was hesitating trapezing off the back of the boat down wind he told me to “stop being a girl and get out there” we were going sooo fast that day.

Do you think there is a need for a special etiquette while racing Mixed? or you can just have common racing  crew relation ? This both ways of course.
Sailing mixed for the Olympics is of course different than most of us are used to, because you will spend 300 days of sailing with your male partner instead of your boyfriend. But I do think this is all part of the game, and I think it is wise to make agreements with each other before you start a campaign. And how things work out if you start racing while you have a relationship..I do not know..but that is definitely not something for me!

Which are your goals for 2012? Another F16 Worlds? F18 racing? or just focusing on 2016 (if campaigning)
Goals for me this year are set on the F16 Europeans in August, unfortunately there is no F16 worlds this year. So I will keep it with the international and national regatta’s with main goal the F16 Europeans. Besides I will see how the multihull selection for Rio 2016 will proceed. Going for the Olympics is for me as much based on finding a trustful and potential team as the boat choice.
Copyright Catsailingnews.

Photos ISAF , H16 photo Jasper Van Staveren. www.sailshoot.com

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