Eline world winner
NEWS Sep 15, 2022

Sailor Eline Verstraelen is world champion amongst young sailing talents

Aurelie Favresse

Sailor Eline Verstraelen has won the World U21 (Under 21) Championships in the ILCA 6 class (formerly, the Laser Radial class). Gumption has been sponsoring Eline since 2016. For several years now, Eline has been steadily working her way to the top. Previously, she finished second at the European Championships and fourth at the World Youth Championships. We spoke to her shortly after her victory in Portugal.

Sailor Eline Verstraelen has won the World U21 (Under 21) Championships in the ILCA 6 class (formerly, the Laser Radial class). Gumption has been sponsoring Eline since 2016. For several years now, Eline has been steadily working her way to the top. Previously, she finished second at the European Championships and fourth at the World Youth Championships. We spoke to her shortly after her victory in Portugal.

Q: Congratulations on the title! How did the competition go?

Eline Verstraelen: “It was a tough match, especially mentally. Due to the lack of wind, many races could not start at all, or we were called back after having sailed out already. As a result, we had to wait around a lot and put in long days yet stay fresh and prepared. I tried to keep my composure and remain calm. I managed to do it, but it definitely wasn’t easy. In general, I’m a calm person with a clear sense of focus, so in that sense I had an advantage. I was booking great results every day, but the realisation that I could still lose everything made things more stressful in the final phase. On the penultimate day, I managed to get a lead position. Since there was no more sailing on the last day, I got the win. The conditions of this championship were totally different from races where you have days of 20 knots. Then you really have to give all you’ve got. Now it was mostly a mental challenge.”

Q: Had you counted on coming in first?

Eline Verstraelen: “There were a lot of talented sailors taking part, so I didn’t have my sights set on it. I would have been satisfied with a place in the top 10. I surprised myself. It’s extra nice because this race was the last for me among the group of young talents. At the end of this year, I’ll be competing in the European and World Championships with the professionals. Now I’ll be starting again at the bottom of the ladder. Those sailors are older, stronger and more experienced. I still have to grow physically, gain weight and build muscle in the gym but thanks to this win, I’m gaining confidence.”

Eline world winner 2
Q: Last time you mentioned that you’re getting ready for the Olympics in 2024. Are you going for Gold there too?

Eline Verstraelen: “In principle, yes, but the current world champion Emma Plasschaert will also be participating. Emma is eight years older and has tons of experience. I still have a lot to learn from her. On paper, we’re competitors, but I don’t see it that way. We make each other stronger. Sailing competitions usually take place abroad and it’s necessary to practice in advance at the location itself. That can get pretty lonely. That’s why I’m glad Emma is often there. We also train together.”

Q: In addition to sailing, you’re studying at university, you told me. How are the studies going?

Eline Verstraelen: “I just obtained my first Bachelor’s degree in Applied Economics. Now I’m studying half-time, 30 credits instead of 60. I’m managing, but it’s not easy. I’m determined to get my degree though. After all, there’s a life after sailing. The entrepreneurial world appeals to me.”

Q: Who knows, maybe we’ll be welcoming you at Gumption in the future! In the meantime: we wish you the best of luck. We’re happy to continue to support you and follow your progress.

Eline Verstraelen: “May I add one more thing? I want to really thank Gumption for the support over the years. That has contributed to this victory, and I appreciate it immensely.”

Eline world winner
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