A novel approach

Toby Heppell looks at the unique way the Dutch are running their Olympic Yngling squad
Most Olympic sailors will tell you that to be successful you need to train and race regularly against other top calibre teams. This has been shown to be the case time and again with sailors who win Olympic medals often coming from a country with one or two other top teams, or having spent time sparing with a foreign training partner of the same top level. But what happens when you do not have this strength in depth and training partners are scarce? The Dutch Sailing Federation has come up with a novel approach. If you have been following the Olympic Circuit over the past few years you may have noticed the three Dutch Yngling teams attending most of the events are numbered 1, 11 and 111. The very observant may also have noticed the crew in these boats have not stayed the same but rather have been switching between boats - a new system conceived by Yngling coach Maurice Paardenkooper. “Paardenkooper suggested to the head coach that we should just start from the bottom up,” explains Simon Keijzer of the Dutch Sailing Federation. “So they invited 130 girls to come along and from that day they started training with a whole bunch of them in Majorca and now we have ended up with nine full time professionals.” Paardenkooper was also a judge for the selection of the ABN AMRO Two crew in 2005 where they used a similar training camp system to find fresh young talent to crew the youth round the world race boat. “This is sort of the same approach as ABN AMRO Two where you have idols on the water and everyone can join in and then they select the people to be on the boat. That is where the idea originated from," Keijzer confirms. This approach