Plenty of wind in the sails

  28.07.2023 Sports & Leisure, GYC - Gstaad Yacht Club, Local News, Sports & Leisure

The 2023 Sailing Season at GYC commenced with remarkable vigour as the GYC Racing Team pursued their goals with electrifying speed. With 2023 being the pre-Olympic year and serving as the selection year for the 2024 Olympics, the members of the GYC Racing Team were set for an eventful season.

The Swiss Sailing Team selection committee had already determined the Swiss delegation for two significant events: the Paris 2024 Test Event in Marseille, France (July 7-16, 2023) and the Sailing World Championships in The Hague, Netherlands (August 10 - 20, 2023). The Test Event provided a valuable opportunity to gain experience in the Olympic waters under competitive conditions, a year before the Games. Due to limited spots and the need for recovery and preparation, the SST delegation in Marseille was relatively small. However, preparations were well underway for Gauthier Verhulst, who had already confirmed his qualification for the ILCA 7 class and would also represent Switzerland at the Sailing World Championships.

The Sailing World Championships, being the highlight of the year, held the key to securing the first quota places for the Olympic Games. Between 40 and 50 percent of the starting places for Paris 2024 were up for grabs, and additional quota places could be obtained at later European or World Championships, and the "Last Chance Regatta" in Hyères in April 2024.

The GYC Racing Team has had members aspiring to participate in the Games since 2004, and the 2024 Olympics served as an intermediate goal for the young sailors, with their long-term aim set on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. Among the team members, Gauthier Verhulst (22), Anja von Allmen (ILCA 6 class), Joshua Richner, and Nilo Schärer (TYC & GYC) will be representing Switzerland at the World Championships in The Hague. This collaborative team, based between Gstaad and Thun, symbolized the fruitful partnership between GYC and clubs by the water, particularly the Thunersee Yacht Club. Anja also had an additional goal for 2023, participating in the Junior World Championship U21 in Morocco in the autumn, where she would be the sole representative of Switzerland.

The two 49er sailors had already showcased their prowess in spring, achieving commendable results in the regattas in Palma and Hyères. They used the season to explore the Olympic waters in Marseille and hone their starting and light wind techniques. Their preparations continued with two one-week sessions in Newport, Belgium, to adapt to stronger currents and larger waves that awaited them in The Hague. Despite the challenges, they were determined to secure a spot for their nation, striving to sail into the Gold Fleet (the top 25).

Anja von Allmen's success at the Bol d'Or on Lake Geneva was a testament to her dedication to sailing. Invited to participate in the Mirabaud Sailing Squad, Anja embraced the challenge and achieved a sublime victory alongside her crewmates. Their triumph in the largest regatta on an inland lake showcased her exceptional talent and determination. The Mirabaud Sailing Squad, with mentorship from British double Olympic champion Shirley Robertson, demonstrated their excellence, securing the win in a thrilling race.

Beyond Lake Geneva, the Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team embarked on a profound journey in the Ocean Race. Led by skipper Roberto "Chuny" Bermúdez de Castro, the team sailed the VO65 around the globe, visiting iconic international cities as part of this prestigious race. Their achievements showcased their commitment to ocean conservation, including securing second place in the Ocean Race Sprint Cup in The Hague and winning the VO65 Sprint Cup Stage 2. The Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team actively promoted their mission of "Racing for the Planet," aligning with the UNESCO Ocean Decade's goals.

In recognition of their efforts, the Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy in Cascais, founded by GYC member Paulo Mirpuri, was officially acknowledged as an event of the UNESCO Ocean Decade. The regatta's dedication to protecting biodiversity, unlocking ocean-based solutions, and fostering a deeper connection with the ocean earned them this prestigious recognition. The Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy played a crucial role in addressing various UNESCO Ocean Health Challenges, highlighting its significant contribution to marine conservation. This accomplishment was a testament to their commitment to sustainability and ocean protection, amplifying their message and impact on a global scale.


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