Fri, September 20, 2013

Two Canadians in Olympic windsurfing's swan song

By BOB MACKIN, Special to QMI Agency


Canada's Nikola Girke stands on her windsurfing board during the medal race of the women's RS-X sailing class at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth and Portland, southern England, August 7, 2012. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier


LONDON - Nikola Girke of West Vancouver may have raced her last RS:X windsurfing event at an Olympics.

But so did Marina Neira Alabau of Spain, who won the London 2012 Olympics gold medal on Tuesday in Weymouth. The International Sailing Federation announced in May that the Rio 2016 regatta would feature kitesurfing instead. Windsurfing advocates filed a legal challenge in High Court in London on Aug. 1. “I went to Athens in the 470 (sailboat) as a crew,” Girke said. “I’ve been asked what next? I guess I’m lucky in the way I have a few choices, whether it’s sailing or kiteboarding.”

Girke, 13th in Athens 2004, raced to 17th in Beijing. Her 10th place in the Olympic final was an improvement on the 17th place at the world championship in Weymouth and matched her 10th place in the 2012 regatta at Cadiz, Spain.

“I think there’s a bit of sadness, but it didn’t change my preparation,” Girke said. “It goes down in history what happens here today. It is the end of an era and no one can change that.”

Her best race of the Olympic regatta was a fourth place finish on Aug. 4.

Zac Plavsic of West Vancouver was 10th in the men’s race, which was won by Dorian van Russelberge of Netherlands.

Plavsic, 29, was 23rd in Beijing 2008 and 16th at the 2012 world championship.

Both Girke and Plavsic race out of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.