RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup 2018

By Laurie Fullerton

This year, the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup is hosting four international girls from Holland, Britain, Brazil and Poland. The girls will face off against a tough playing field of local and international Opti sailors starting this Thursday. Talented and eager, they all agreed that they do enjoy the camaraderie of other girls in the sport but ‘don’t mind’ racing against boys, either.

Hamilton, Bermuda, Oct 9, 2013- With the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup now in its 11th year, the event has grown to include more girls both locally and internationally at this highest level of competition. By being invited from overseas, a group of young girls get the opportunity to both meet each other and to compete against the local Bermuda girls as well.

The result is certainly the beginning of many life long friendships but also a lot of young females have managed to do very well at the Junior Gold Cup. The best result for girls was 2011 when four females graced the top eight finishers including a 2nd and a 3rd. To date, there has not yet been a girl on the podium in first place– not yet, at least.

This year, the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup is hosting four international girls from Holland, Britain, Brazil and Poland. The girls will face off against a tough playing field of local and international Opti sailors starting this Thursday. Talented and eager, they all agreed that they do enjoy the camaraderie of other girls in the sport but ‘don’t mind’ racing against boys, either.

“I sometimes think that girls are stronger than boys when it comes to keeping your cool, not getting nervous and sailing in any condition,” said Manon Van Dijk , 13, of Holland. “But in the higher competition you often see more boys because they ‘say’ boys are stronger. They ‘say’ girls should get good at steering the boat as the boys take the other positions.”

Because Junior Gold Cup is a great combination of youngster’s, age 9 to 15, “everyone gets on really well. Everyone likes each other so it is good. I enjoy sailing with boys and girls – it really doesn’t make that much difference,” said Hattie Rogers, 13, of Great Britain,

“Some say girls are not as aggressive at the starts,” Hattie notes, but “sometimes it is not just about being aggressive in sailing.”

What is different is where girls end up in sailing as they mature but the visiting females at the Junior Gold Cup today have plenty of plans for future sailing – including some Olympic aspirations- once they ‘age out’ of the Optimists.

Rogers plans to sail in 420s after Optimists, while Van Dijk hopes to grow tall enough to sail in Lasers. For Aleksandra Melzacka, 15, of Poland, she plans to race in a 29er and Daniela “Dani” Luz, 13, of Brazil hopes to sail in the Byte class and on a Mach-style catamaran that might “prepare me to sail on a Tornado in the 2016 Olympics.” That would mean in 2016 Luz will be 16-or 17-years old, but her solid plans are admirable.

During this years’ Junior Gold Cup, there are a number of local girls who look to do very well. For Bermudians, this will be the last Jr Gold Cup event for Ceci Wollmann, who is moving to the Byte where Bermuda qualified for a spot in the in the Youth Olympic Games in China in 2014. Her 9th place finish at this year's IODA North American Championships make her one of this event’s top sailors. She will also sail in the Bermuda Nationals.

“Back in 2007, I remember that we had about nine competitors from overseas and we only had one girl, Morgan Kiss from the USA who now sails for Yale, and only one Bermuda female as well,” said Dede Cooper, co-director of the Junior Gold Cup. “I remember her saying that it is usually more fun to have more girls during these overseas events and I started to make an effort to be sure that we are always about 25-75 girls to boys.”

“As entries have increased, we make a concerted effort to level out the playing field as best as possible. This year sees 49 competitors with 13 females including the youngest competitor, Leyli Walker, 9, who is the granddaughter of the late Jordy Walker" said Cooper.

“I still feel that girls often opt to “crew” once they get a little older and into a team boat and it does not give them the confidence that perhaps boys get driving the boat,” said Cooper. "The more opportunity for young females to be in the limelight the better."

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