Right at the end of my freestyle trip in Brazil, I received a shocker of an e-mail. It was Thursday the 2nd November 2017 when the PWA broke the news to me:
“ Hi Sarah-Quita, unfortunately we have made a mistake and it seems that you have not yet won the PWA Slalom World Title”.
I hadn’t had any coffee yet by then, so the news didn’t really hit me.
Once the caffeine kicked in, I started pondering on the news and before I knew it, my brain was in overdrive. I still had to travel to Mexico [for the 2017 Rolex Sailor of the Year Awards], fly to Aruba, pick up my gear in Holland before I could make my way to NC. How was I going to get from Brazil to New Caledonia in time for the last contest of the year!?!?
Logistically it was a nightmare, but I just went with it. Before I knew it, I arrived in New Caledonia. Thanks to the jet-lag, I woke up bright and early. The sunrise was gorgeous and I was grateful to be there for the last event of the year.
At the beach, the tranquil and friendly vibe of the locals greeted me and I was already looking forward to racing. That’s not to say I wasn’t nervous! Delphine [Cousin] could still win the title if she won the event and if I would finish outside of the top 3. She had won this event in 2014 and 2015 and I knew she would win it now too… “Keep calm SQ, Top 3 is doable!”
The forecast looked great and we were going to get a lot of sailing in. I just didn’t expect it was going to be so exhausting! The strong wind combined with some crazy chop makes the competition area an obstacle course and takes 120% focus. While trying to pass or block people I needed to take care that unexpected chop wouldn’t catch me off guard and launch me off my board. We completed one race on the first day and three races on the second day. All the while holding on to my 6.4m². The sun and strong wind was quite heavy. By the end of the second day, I was completely destroyed and wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the end of the contest!
Thankfully we had some lay days because of rainy weather. Perfect occasion to get the foil races going! That was great action! Anyway, by the end of the contest, I managed to seal the deal by finishing the event in second place. I only used 6.4m² and 7.0m² combined with my iSonic 107.
I wasn’t always on it and I think some nerves had to do with it. I was scared to go over early, so I wouldn’t always nail the starts. And I didn’t want to risk too much at the marks so I messed up some gybes. But I scored three bullets and those three races were probably also my favorite races. These were the races where my line to the first mark was just right and I had to commit to all my gybes with Delphine [Cousin] breathing down my neck.
Nothing really went according to plan during the contest. I had some tight races with the ladies where it wasn’t sure until the finish line what place I had finished. But the races where I got it together had my adrenaline running super high! I learned so much during this event, and am inspired and motivated by everyone’s level.
Finally I shared the overall podium with Delphine Cousin and Marion Mortefon. And I won my fourth slalom title for the second time this year. But there’s no way I’m giving this one back again!!
It has been an absolute pleasure competing in NC where the organization and hospitality for the riders was impeccable. And now for some down time in Aruba!!
– Sarah-Quita Offringa
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