More than four months before the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the sailors Afrodite Zegers and Lobke Berkhout can finally measure themselves again with their competitors in the 470 class. Zegers and Afrodite start the World Cup off the coast of the Portuguese resort of Vilamoura on Monday. “The time has finally come,” says Berkhout. “After more than 1.5 years, we can once again compete against all our competitors.”
Zegers and Berkhout secured their participation in the Games at the World Cup in Enoshima in August 2019. This summer they will go on the same water in Japan for a medal. The 40-year-old Berkhout already has Olympic silver (2008) and bronze (2012) in his pocket, with Marcelien de Koning and Lisa Westerhof respectively. With the 11 years younger Zegers, who just missed a medal with Anneloes van Veen at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Berkhout in Japan is going for the color medal that is still missing from her trophy cabinet.
“We feel strong and have worked hard this winter,” says the experienced sailor. “We have become stronger and more stable in several areas. We want to use this World Cup to develop this even further.”
The Portuguese resort of Vilamoura will also host the European windsurfing championships next week. The world champions Kiran Badloe and Lilian de Geus see the event as a gauge on their way to Tokyo. “We’ve had very few games on the RS: X shelf since the end of last year, so I’m really curious to see where I stand,” said Badloe, who has returned to New Zealand coach Aaron McIntosh. “Because I am already qualified, our focus is mainly on the Games next summer, while many of my competitors are fully in the selection battle. We take this European Championship as a nice training and good preparation. An important measuring point to determine. where we are and what we need to work on in the coming months. “
Last November, a European Championship was also held in the RS: X class in Vilamoura. Badloe took bronze there, De Geus finished ninth. Last summer, they had both mainly focused on wind foiling, the discipline that will replace the RS: X class as an Olympic number after the Tokyo Games. “The focus in the preparation was on the World Cup at the end of April”, says De Geus. “But now that it has become known this week that this World Cup has been canceled for the time being, it is all the better that this European Championship will continue. The field of participants is strong. Because we are in an Olympic year and we will switch to the iQFoiL after the Games, you see. that actually only the windsurfing enthusiasts who have qualified for Tokyo are still participating. The rest is already foiling. “