In mid-August, the Allianz World Sailing Championships were on the schedule. It was a significant event because, for the first time, the Netherlands hosted all Olympic classes off its own coast. It was an important event, since a significant portion of the Olympic tickets for the Paris Games were up for grabs at this World Championship. Annette Duetz, supported by Management Drives in her athletic and personal development, also had a successful tournament, winning a silver medal. But this silver medal comes with a story, a story she will share here.
Annette can now be considered the most successful 49FX sailor of all time, with three World Championship wins. She won gold twice with her former teammate Annemieke Bekkering in Aarhus (2018) and Auckland (2019), and in 2022, she added another victory in Canada with her new teammate Odile van Aanholt. After winning two consecutive World Championships, Annette naturally aimed for gold, although she knew it would be a challenging task. She had torn her knee ligament just under two weeks before the World Championship.
Tournament on Home Waters
Annette reflects on this injury and the tournament off the Scheveningen coast, the home base of Dutch sailors: “Ten days before the World Championship, we went out on the water in Scheveningen with heavy conditions. We were pushing the limits in terms of conditions, and sometimes, that can lead to a capsize. I had a very unlucky fall and suffered an unpleasant knee injury. With medical approval, I could still get on the water, and with some adjustments, we managed to navigate the course despite my knee injury. It was mentally challenging because I couldn’t appear at the starting line with full confidence. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic event to sail, in front of our own coast, with so many people and familiar faces.
What was also interesting to notice is that sailing at your home base breaks your routines. Normally, you travel to a tournament, and from then on, it’s all about sailing. It’s easy to get into a focused mindset. Now, of course, everything was different, and there were more distractions. For this reason, we tried to stick to our normal routine as much as possible. For instance, we stayed together in a cottage by the coast and tried to maintain the same routines leading up to the races. Additionally, this injury made the tournament even more demanding, and at times, it felt like we just had to tough it out. Nonetheless, I am extremely happy that we secured a spot for the Netherlands and ourselves in the boat for the Paris Olympics.”
Qualification for Paris 2024
The fact that they have already secured their spot is a relief for Annette and her teammate. They have a full schedule leading up to Paris. In early November, there is a European Championship in Portugal, and in March, there is a World Championship in Lanzarote, exclusively for the 49erFX class. For the countries that haven’t qualified via the European Championship (only the top country qualifies there), there is one last chance in April next year. Three more boats can qualify then. Annette: “This World Championship was the moment when most boats could qualify. There are only a few remaining qualification opportunities for the Olympics. We really wanted to qualify here so that we could create our own program leading up to Paris that perfectly aligns with our desires and needs, without being obliged to build our program around qualification moments. This was a significant reason for us to still compete in the World Championship despite the severe injury. It was a risk, but we decided it was necessary for such an important tournament.”
Learning from Setbacks
Annette also sees the upside of a challenging tournament with setbacks: “We faced several challenges during the event. The injury was one, but there was also a disqualification that occurred without video footage as evidence. By encountering these moments now, we, as a team, know how to react and where we need to improve. Knowing yourself and each other well when the pressure is on and understanding what you can expect from each other is essential. I have been using Management Drives within the TalentEmpowerment program for many years, and we are now using it in preparation for the Women’s America’s Cup as well. The combination of understanding my motivations and experiencing them under pressure made this a very educational and valuable experience. It’s better to have these kinds of experiences now than when you’re already at the Olympics. Everything has to be perfect then.”
As for what Annette will be doing in the coming weeks, she says, “First, I’m going on a nice vacation with my boyfriend to Sardinia. I’ve often told myself not to go sailing on vacation, but due to my knee injury, it definitely won’t be a sailing vacation. After my vacation, I’ll focus on the Women’s America’s Cup, an exciting event that will be sailed off the American coast after the Olympics. In September, we’ll be training with the team we’ll be competing with in that tournament. From October, we’ll also pick up the 49erFX again, and the preparation for Paris will begin.”
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