Het Nederlandse team tijdens het traningsweekend. Foto: Martina Orsini

Sailing in football uniform

Jelmer is at home in many markets in the sailing field, where he now finds his permanent base on board VO65 Janssen de Jong, he now also steps on board an SL47 in the Star Sailors League with a star team.

This column also appeared on Zeilwereld.nl

Even though I did not experience the 1974 World Cup football, I did get the stories and images of this lost World Cup with Johan Cruijff as a young football player. Those heroes of that time wore an orange shirt with a Dutch lion, white trousers and stockings. And we wear exactly such a uniform during a training for the new Star Sailors League for national teams.

Jelmer van Beek Star Sailors League Netherlands
Jelmer van Beek in his ‘football kit’
This Friday, Saturday and Sunday we will be in Switzerland for our first (and only) days of training before taking part in the finals in Bahrain in November. As with tennis, the organization has incorporated all results of all sailors around the world into a ranking. Thanks to the good results of all Dutch sailors, we are placed fourth and we can immediately enter the quarter finals.

Star Sailors League Netherlands with a mix of experienced sailors
The Dutch team is a mix of experienced sailors, with Olympic competitions, match races, ocean races and the America’s Cup to their name. To captain Roy Heiner, with experience in all these disciplines, the assignment to make a great team.

Star Sailors League Netherlands the team
Part of the Star Sailors League Netherlands team: Bart Lambriex, Peter van Niekerk, Jelmer van Beek, Rutger Vos and Nicholas Heiner.
Photo: Martina Orsini
Friday morning starts with a media moment. We are made up and go straight to the photo and film studio. The organization wants to put us in the media to promote sailing. They will make a ”Panini” football album and Lego dolls from these images. I am very curious.

Fortunately, we can quickly get on the water afterwards. In our beautiful outfit we sail on the SL47. A fast keelboat, suitable for 9 sailors, with gennaker, grinder and two steering wheels. The boat has no railing, so everyone has something to hang overboard.

This is the first training with the complete team. Coach Roy tells at the briefing that he wants to try different lineups to find the best team. It also gives everyone the chance to get to know the boat well.

I start in a familiar place and start training as a helmsman. The boat is ‘wrapped’ in gold and that’s how the SL47 sails: she responds like a laser to the rudder with the stability of a keelboat.

Star Sailors League Netherlands Jelmer van Beek
Jelmer in his familiar place at the helm, next to him Rutger Vos and Odile van Aanholt.
Photo: Martina Orsini
Saturday and Sunday we have two more training sessions. Now I’m a mainsail caddy, a position where you help the mainsail trimmer. It is instructive to get to know the boat well as a second trimmer and to work together with other team members.

During the exhibition games against Australia, Brazil and Sweden, among others, we go tight on the track. We are certainly challenged by these sailing nations.

The days have flown by and soon we are already in the van back home. On the way we stop at McDonalds. And for a moment I think back to 20 years ago, After an exciting game, with my football socks and shoes still on, eating a Happy Meal with my football buddies from the E1.

With sailing greetings, Jelmer van Beek

Jelmer van Beek

I am skipper on the JAJO VO65. The boat will participate in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup in 2023. On this website you can read my adventures and experiences towards The Ocean Race.

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