Racers on the Road: Nikola Girke (RS:X) - Olympic Prep29-Jun-2012
June 29, 2012
Just another day in the office...the usual sleep, eat, training, eat, sail, gym, sleep program... and then the Prince showed up!
Prince Charles came for a visit to the Sailing Venue here in Weymouth and met some of the Commonwealth sailors. It was a real pleasure and honour to meet him, my first of the Royals!... An interesting and witty man he was, a former windsurfer too!
Right after the Royal visit, I visited with my friends, the Rockinghams, in Weymouth who are part of the Weymouth & Portland Friends of Chernobyl Children. This group raises money for children affected by the Chernobyl disaster. The families here in the UK then host these children for a month - giving these kids the nourishment they desperately need: a balanced diet, clothes, doctor and dental visits and some good fun. I met 14 year old Dasha only twice, but it was such a simple reminder of how fortunate I am to be where I'm from and to have had the opportunities that I did. She'll probably be my remotest cheerleader, sporting her red Canadian Olympic Team mittens from Belarus. I'll never forget her smile, her eyes lighting up and her massive thank you hug... if only she had more chances of a better life at home.
This experience somewhat coincides perfectly with my goal to raise money for charity. I've just recently teamed up with an amazing initiative by Chimp (an online platform that facilitates charitable activity by making giving simple, centralized and social for the average Canadian) I am trying to raise $10,000 for charity, which will get doubled to $20,000 by an anonymous sponsor. It's really easy to donate and get a tax receipt. We are having a bit of Olympic Fun with it... and those that have joined my group are pledging for my results in races at the Games and overall result, making the media - like getting a picture with Prince Charles. That picture raised $200 alone and had I been able to get him in a wetsuit it would've been $500. A picture of myself and the Queen gets $1000 etc. Proceeds will go to CanFund and KidSport, supporting Canadian athletes from the grassroots to the Olympic elite, and The Vancouver Friends For Life Society. Have a bit of Olympic fun and join me...there might be some funny banter too as I'll be looking for all sorts of pledges http://bit.ly/NikGoing4Gold
Wishing you all a very HAPPY CANADA DAY long weekend. I'll be celebrating over here in Weymouth - sporting this awesome head gear :)
Thank you for your support,
June 22, 2012
Yikes...Where does time go? Only 34 days till the Games!!!
I can honestly say that I’d planned to write my update on the flight back home… well, I guess that beckons the real question – where is home really these days?! If it were Weymouth (here for a total of 3 months & a week out of 4 months leading up to and including the Olympics), I’m following through as planned – I wrote this on the plane heading back to the UK for another bout of training. I did come back to Vancouver, albeit for a short 8 days. My days at home are never enough but nevertheless much needed. After 7 weeks in Weymouth and seeing the sun for only 12 of those 50 days (and they were all in a row too), a change was necessary both physically and mentally. Good thing Vancouver’s weather has been so similarly crappy…the last thing I’d need to stress about is having to acclimatize!
Sail for Gold Regatta just kind of came and went…more like fizzled out. I started off terribly on day one – but was able to turn that around in the races that followed. I climbed up the ranks each day – from 35th to 17th to 13th and then finally to 12th. Unfortunately because of the weather we ended up having only 7 races, it was too windy to race. Our last day of sailing was a crazy one - the weather forecast had the wind increasing steadily throughout the day to super windy 40+knots. The race committee tried to get a race off for each of the sailing classes as we were all behind schedule and it looked like the day following was also going to be as windy. Thus, we had one race in the morning before we got sent in to wait for a further race later in the day. At our time of racing it was only 18-22knots, for which I had a simple game plan and stuck with it. I got off the starting line and off I went. I rounded the top mark in 1st, then the lead changed a few times before I took it back by the last top mark. I nailed it and got a bullet!!! After waiting for the rest of the day, I'm bummed we didn't get another chance to race so that I could have the opportunity to climb the leader board again and make the medal race, however, in the end, I did go out with a bang. And if what some say is true... you're only as good as your last race...well then...I guess I'll just have to start the Olympics where I left off :)
We had some pretty intense wind come through on the last 2 days of the regatta. Coincidentally, I was rescued both on my very first day of training here at the end of April and on my last day of sailing at Sail For Gold - they had sent us out again in the afternoon (after the race I won in the morning) once the wind had picked up, however... once out there the storm bit of the wind came through and we saw well over 40+knots out there, some reckon it was up to 52knots. The men's fleet had been racing and only 16 of 53 competitors were able to finish, and hardly any girls but a few (myself included) dared to head out to the race course. I had sailed to the course area and tuned up to try to get comfortable with the conditions, when the wind really hit. Then there was carnage everywhere. The race committee put up the "rescue" flag, which meant all coaches and anyone on a boat was in rescue mode. Many sailors ended up leaving their gear on another beach - I ended up towing my stuff home but with much difficulty. It was a pleasant surprise to come back to shore with all sailors helping each other get back on land and de-rig. Luckily both my gear and I survived the day! Unfortunately the following day it was too windy to race again early on and unfortunately the race committee cancelled the races for the day way too early - an hour later the learn to sail kids were out there. What a shame we didn't race again.
Just before Sail for Gold Regatta, the official Canadian Olympic Sailing Team announcement was made. We were all presented with Canadian Sailing Team gear from Gill as well as some cool HBC Canada Olympic Team Jackets. The first picture depicts the whole team, the Paralympians, the Olympians and the coaches while the second and much smaller group is of only the Olympic sailors. Go Canada Go!
And now that I'm back in Weymouth...I'm back at it. Today was my first day of training here. It was too windy so we called off sailing so instead I hit the gym twice. Fun times.
Lots more news to come as I ramp up towards the Games!
May 31, 2012They say time flies when you're having fun... or when you're just really really busy!
I can't believe it's been 5 weeks already and that I've stayed in one spot - Weymouth, UK. Almost a local. It's been really great getting settled into a good routine here. Since arriving I jumped straight into training with the British, whose program was a simple Monday to Friday on the water whilst my dry-land schedule had me working Monday through Saturday. By Saturday afternoon I was absolutely exhausted and ready to do nothing on Sunday, my coveted day off!
I can't say it's been all easy going though, spring in the UK had me see the sun for only about 3 days of my first 4 weeks here. General synopsis: rain, fog, wind, and we rarely saw temperatures in the double digits, down to 0 on the water one day with windchill. Yup...that made training painful, frozen hands and feet are never nice. Luckily being a Vancouverite had me prepared; I brought my snow boots, rain pants, a down jacket, a warm waterproof jacket, toques, and many layers. About 11 days ago,a pleasant change occurred... it's been gorgeous and warm. Thus, Weymouth has now been re-named as Weybiza!
I always had a great group to train with, the British were the staples, while many others came for a week or two of training and went again (as the Europeans so easily can). Now knowing which course areas we'll be competing on at the Olympics, we varied our training locations to get a feel for each of these areas.
This past weekend ended a 7 day training camp with Piotr, a Polish sailor (a RSX Men's World Champ) that I hired to coach me. Hands down, it was the best, most informative and productive training camp I've ever done and as tiring as it was, it was fun too. Piotr sailed with me most days, he was able to demonstrate techniques and give me tips on the water while everything was captured on video to be debriefed later. My little joke was that I got a Polish to polish my sailing. Very inspired and motivated to work hard as I've learned a few new tricks of the trade that I'll be refining over the next 2 months.
The end of these 5 weeks of training also marked a much needed 2 days off (yes I still had to do dry-land) and it was going on a mini-trip down the coast to Cornwall and Land's End that passed my time. Incredibly beautiful countryside, cute sea side towns and on another day off I did manage to see Stonehenge too.
And now back to work... the last World Cup event at the Olympic venue before the Olympics: Skandia Sail for Gold starts June 4th through 9th. I'm excited about racing against a big fleet again, testing my skills and learning more about the venue. I won't be sending any updates out during the regatta, but you can follow the competition through the website: Sail For Gold Regatta
Attached are a few pictures showing my beautiful running route around Portland overlooking the sailing venue, my sleeping suit - which ended up being the perfect recovery warm up suit after those cold & foggy days, me enjoying "a cuppa", and Stonehenge.
60 days till the Games begin....Thank you for your continued support!!!