From boat to board

Photo: Joris Lugtigheid
470 silver medallist and triple World Champion Marcelien de Koning on why she jumped ship
In Olympic sailing there is a typical progression from the Laser to the Finn or Star, from the Laser Radial to the 470 or Women’s Match Racing. A move you don’t expect is from the 470 to the RS:X windsurfer, particularly when the individual in question is a three time World Champion in the Olympic doublehander and an Olympic silver medallist. Heralding from Hoorn in the Netherlands, Marcelien de Koning is a career Olympic sailor having started out in the Europe when she was just 16 in 1994. At 60kg she admits she was too light for the Olympic singlehander of the day. “I was doing well in the light breeze and in the middle I didn’t do well and when it was really strong I was happy again because then everyone has to survive...I was surviving from 20 knots up,” she says. De Koning moved on to the 470 in 2001, teaming up with towering Lobke Berkhout. “I had to learn how to sail all over again, because of the angles with the spinnakers, sailing with two people in the boat and all the trim possibilities,” she recalls. “But I really enjoyed it and it was good fun. We were a team for strong breeze, because we are both tall and my crew [Berkhout] is even taller.” Despite regularly posting top 10 places, the duo missed on out on going to the Athens Olympics, beaten to the slot by Lisa Westerhof and Margriet Matthijsse. It wasn’t until the next Olympic cycle that the duo became the class act in the Women’s 470, winning three back to back World Championships from 2005-2007. During this period de Koning says they set themselves different goals each years – 2005 was about communication while in 2006 and 2007 it was about learning how to win races. Communication?