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Sailors wrap up Olympic effort

Thursday 24 May 2012 | Published in Regional


The long chase for Olympic qualification came to a close for Team Cook Islands laser sailing squad Helema Williams and Taua Elisa Henry in Germany at the conclusion of the Laser World Championships in Boltinghagen.

The remaining places for the Olympic Games have now been announced to complete the 39 places in the women’s laser radial fleet and the remaining 12 to complete the men’s laser fleet of 58 countries. All places must be qualified and there are no wild cards.

The men’s championship was won by Tom Slingsby of Australia, now firmly ensconced as the favorite for the Olympic title, but a bright new light in the fleet which features a very high quality fleet was Juan Maegli of Guatemala who roared through the rankings to take a fourth place overall.

Elisa’s campaign finished in challenging conditions with mostly very flukey light winds.

Elisa was able to improve the Cook Islands country ranking from 60th to 55th.

The women’s laser radial fleet champion was Gintare Scheidt of Lithuania who snatched the lead from Xu Lija of China who had lead through most of the championships.

Helema Williams sailed really well to finish 39th in the 2012 championships, but unfortunately with the qualifying criteria including other results – just not quite well enough!

She was able to improve Cook Islands country ranking from 45th to 39th.

Both sailors have improved their country ranking in this last opportunity, bringing their campaign to a fitting close.

For Sailing Cook Islands, the duo have sacrificed a huge amount to represent the country through their campaign. ”It’s been a long haul and one where they have made the sacrifices in their daily lives, supported wholeheartedly by their families and the sailing family of the Cook Islands – along with their many new friends in the International sailing fraternity,“ says Anne Tierney of SCI. ”Along the way of course they have represented our country so well at the Pacific Games, delighting us with the competitiveness and their successes – they have been wonderful representatives for our country.“

Tierney adds that the skills and techniques that they have learned are already being taught to another generation of young sailors as all our national sailors coach here in the Cook Islands.

”Of course the story will not end here for them either – the Pacific Mini Games next year in Wallis and Futuna and Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea in 2015 will be a challenge to maintain our rankings, with a healthy number of our younger sailors now climbing the ladder to step up to the plate,“ adds Tierney. Aitutaki, Manihiki and Rarotonga Sailing Clubs are all under pressure to deliver coaching to a growing number of keen sailors at all levels.

Sailing Cook Islands and the national sailing squad would like to thank each and every one who supported the fundraising events and who supported the team through thick and thin, and for the encouragement you have personally given to these wonderful young people.