It’s been a year of moving onwards and upwards for Tauranga’s windsurfing whizkids Veerle ten Have and Max van der Zalm despite disappointment at October’s Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.
The pair flew to Argentina with their sights set on success, but had to settle for mid-table results after ill-luck, illness and penalties threw obstacles in their path.
Veerle went into the games with high expectations as 2018 had been something of a breakthrough year for her.
New Zealand’s top female boardsailor’s biggest success came with a silver medal at July’s Youth Sailing World Championships in the United States, revelling in the breezy conditions.
She then backed it up with handy efforts at the sailing world championships in Aarhus.
“I’ve learned and improved so much this year,” ten Have said before leaving for Buenos Aires. “It’s been like climbing a ladder.
“The biggest lessons came at Aarhus. I got a test of what the real level is like, and it’s brutal, but it makes me want it more because I know I can get there.”
One of the biggest challenges for ten Have at the games was getting to grips with the Techno 293+, which is smaller than the RS:X 8.5 she normally uses.
She was also hoping for wind, thinking her competitors would see her as a threat if it blew, but the regatta turned into a struggle as conditions remained relentlessly light. Her highlight was winning race four, otherwise it was a succession of mid-pack finishes, leaving her 13th overall.
On Instagram she made her thoughts clear on the board she had to use.
“No more techno for me, ever. It was a love-hate relationship. As I already thought, it was a super-tough regatta, finishing just out of the top 10.
“And unfortunately I got sick on the second to last day leaving me with no energy.”
For Max it’s also been a congested international year after sailing in the US, Dutch and French events. Like Veerle, the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta and Oceania Championships winner was looking for an eye-catching performance at the Youth Olympics.
“Aiming for gold but I definitely want to finish top 10,” he said before boarding the plane. “And I want to place for a medal so that’s my top goal.”
The lessons were harsh for him though, as he started with a disqualification and picked up two more penalties in later races.
“I’m disappointed and annoyed at my result,” he said. “Overall, I was consistently having top-10 results and would have been sitting in around sixth place but for some unnecessary penalties that ruined my competition completely.
“I’m happy that I’m understanding the game properly. I’m almost making my way to the top. Just felt like the odds were constantly stacked against me.”