North Sails: News Details


Interview Stijn Paardekooper

Interview by Brian Hayes

European Optimist Champion


Stijn, congratulations on your win at the 28th Magic Marine Easter Optimist Regatta using your new Dzero6 North Optimist Sail.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself (age, how you got into sailing, etc.)?
My name is Stijn Paardekooper and I'm 14 years old. Born and raised in the Netherlands. My first contact with regatta sailing was at the age of nine. At the age of ten I joined the Dutch National Squad. In 2011 I won as Benjamin my first National Regatta and was already third at the easter Regatta that year. One year later, in 2012, I became European Champion in Lignano.
For 2013 my goals are to defend my European title and try to be part of the World team from the Netherlands.

How did it feel to win such a prestigious event with over 200 sailors competing?
For me it was a big surprise that I again could sail as stable as during the Europeans in 2012. Lake Braassemermeer is very difficult with a lot off windshifts. Even before my last race I knew that have have won the regatta. 

What can you tell us about the conditions on Lake Braassemermeer during the event? We hear it was quite cold.
Lake Braassemermeer is very difficult with shifts. Because the easter was early this year it was also very cold. We even sailed one race in snow. Because of these difficult conditions the race committee concluded that we have to go to the shore after each race.

Your scorecard was very impressive with 3 firsts and counting all top 8 finishes in the 8 race series so you obviously had some great speed with your new Dzero6. What did you find were the 2 or 3 keys to your success on compiling such great races?
The key success is my boat speed. During last year my starts are improving and also looking how the wind is developing around my boat. When you can combine these items you have a winning combination. But everything starts with boat speed.

You used a North Dzero6 to win the Europeans last year and stayed with that same sail design program this year. Can you share your thoughts on your sail choice?
I have great confidence in this sail and also with the North Sails organization. There is a lot of knowledge and when I have a question about new developments or trimming my sail there is always someone who will help you.

 If you were to give some advice to younger sailors just getting into Optimist sailing what 1 or 2 things would you tell them you have done to enjoy the experience?
In the beginning fun with your sailing team is the best way to improve yourself. When you are having fun with each other you are always motivated to go to the next training and see your friends. Also together with your coach traveling to other country's and meeting other sailors is very nice.

Do you have any tuning or trimming tips you could share with other sailors that might help them get faster?
We use the trimming and tuning guide from North Sails which you can find on the website. Beside that I learned that a sail should fit with your weight and that you don't need a big sail for going fast.

Now 5 quick answer questions for you:

Favorite time of the year and why? Summer, because of the temperature.

Favorite color? Light-blue

If you could race with anyone, anywhere, who would it be and where? I have two. First I would like to race against Ben Ainslie. He has won several gold medals at the Olympics. Maybe he will race against me in a Optimist or I have to race against him in a laser when there is not to much wind. The location does not matter but I hope with shifty conditions.
The other is racing in a AC45 but I think I'm to young for that.

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If I’m not sailing... I’m working hard for my school results.