Nikola Girke started sailing at the age of 9 at summer camp, a passion shared by her dad. She started racing at age 12 and went on to win the women’s title at the 1995 Laser 2 World Championships, a feat that made her realize that competing at the Olympic Games was a possibility. However, when her father was unexpectedly diagnosed with terminal cancer, she took a break from sailing in order to care for him. He passed away in 1997.
In 2000, Nikola moved to Maui in hopes of becoming a professional windsurfer. During her stay in Hawaii, Jen Provan contacted her in 2001 to ask her if she was interested in teaming up and competing in the 470 class. Nikola agreed to a three-month trial and left Maui… to live in Halifax. The newly-formed Canadian team qualified for the 2004 Olympic Games, where they took the 13th spot. In spite of a promising performance, the Canadian team decided to split up.
Following the 2004 Olympics, the Olympic windsurfing equipment was modified, going from the IMCO (Mistral) to the current type of board, RS:X. Nikola decided to return to windsurfing to focus on that event, and she finished 17th at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, therefore coming up with another promising result that highly motivated her ahead of the subsequent Olympic Games. But in 2012, although she came up with 10th place, she left London disappointed after she had to contend with some equipment challenges during her race – equipment which had been provided by the Host Organizing Committee. Furthermore, she was having trouble coming to terms with the International Olympic Committee’s decision to remove windsurfing from the Olympic program starting with the 2016 Games, which had been announced a couple of months before the Opening Ceremonies in London.
After the 2012 Games, Nikola connected with teammate Luke Ramsayalso from Vancouver, who had sailed in the 470 in London, and they started discussing the possibility of sailing the new mandatory mixed-crew Nacra 17 together, working towards the 2016 Olympic Games.
In the fall of 2012, the International Olympic Committee reversed its decision and decided to reinstate windsurfing at the Rio Games. But it was too late for Nikola, who had already bought a Nacra boat with her new partner. The Canadian team finished 15th at the 2016 Olympic Games and Nikola became the first Canadian sailor to have competed in three different classes at the Olympic Games, all while achieving top-10 results at World Championships across three different sports.
After Nikola’s 2016 ‘retirement’ from sport, she openeda new chapter in her life, which included the launch of her personal coaching company, ‘Own Your Podium’, renovating her house and getting married.
Three years after the 2016 Olympic Games, Nikola saw that Canada had an opportunity to qualify for Tokyo and she decided to return to windsurfing. She topped off her intense and successful comeback by qualifying for her 5th Olympic Games, a feat not many have achieved. At Nikola’s third Olympics in the RS:X windsurfing event, she took the 23rd position in Tokyo.
|Hometown||West Vancouver, BC|
|Club||Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (RVYC)|
|2021||2020 Olympic Games||Tokyo, JPN||23|
|2020||RS:X Windsurfing World Championships||Sorrento, AUS||36|
|2020||Hempel World Cup Series - Round 2, Miami||Miami, U.S.A||4|
|2020||World Cup||Miami, U.S.A||4|
|2016||Olympic Games - Nacra 17 - Mixed||Rio de Janeiro, BRA||15|
|2016||World Championships - Nacra 17 - Mixed||15|