Buenos Aires, Argentina – Odile van Aanholt has added another title to an already impressive list, that of South American Optimist Girls Champion.
The talented 14-year-old put on a sparkling performance at the Club Nautico San Isidro, finishing fourth overall in the joint Boys/Girls league while competing against 160 sailors from 17 countries.
The youngest of four sailing brothers and sisters, the Curaçao-born youngster is also the ‘North American Girls Champion’ and she became ‘Boys and Girls Optimist World Champion 12-years-and-younger’ while competing in Malaysia in 2010.
Racing on the brown, shallow waters of the Rio de la Plata was “like sailing through caramel pudding” says Van Aanholt, who started the championship by winning the first race.
In her next race, she finished 16th but then went on to another win.
On day two, she sailed consistently and scored a seven, six and eight. This put her in fifth position in the overall league and in the lead for the girls.
On the third day, she found conditions more difficult with less wind and strong currents. She finished 11th and 15th, which moved her into 12th position and third amongst the girls.
Due to the lack of a permanent coach, Van Aanholt sailed with the 11-person Mexican team under the guidance of Hector Guzman. In 2011 Guzman held a clinic in Curaçao and trained Van Aanholt at that time. He pointed out that Van Aanholt’s starts ought to be better and tried to get her to start in a more aggressive way. “A top ten ranking will be possible in every single race if she has a perfect start, given her excellent boat speed, steadfastness and extensive experience in the tactical game,” Guzman said.
On the fourth day of sailing the wind increased to 15 knots. Van Aanholt scored a two and a five and moved up to eighth position in the overall league.
On the last day the wind varied from 17 to 20 knots with stronger gusts, this resulted in the sailors having to deal with wave conditions in which Van Aanholt flourished. She scored a first place. With only one race to go she even stood a chance of winning the Overall Boys and Girls Championship, but an over-cautious start saw her finish in seventh place. As a result, she was two and three points short for silver and bronze, respectively.
Van Aanholt is currently preparing for the July World Championships in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic. In October she will defend her North American title in Valle de Bravo, Mexico.
For more information, visit: www.optiworld.org