This will be the first of two competitions that will serve as Canada’s athletes qualification process in iQFoil for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, if Canada earns spots
Kingston, January 22, 2024 – Three Canadian sailors will represent the country at the 2024 iQFoil World Championships, January 29-February 3, in Lanzarote, Spain, which will be the first of two competitions that will serve as the qualification process for Canadian athletes towards the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, if the country earns spots.
On the women’s side, five-time Olympian Nikola Girke from West Vancouver, B.C., and Rebecca Heller from Ottawa, who represented the country in this class at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games, will be in action.
“I’m excited to participate in the iQFoil World Championships, the first event of Sail Canada’s Olympic trials,” said Nikola Girke. “While I expected the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to be my fifth and final Olympics, I found myself really enjoying windsurfing foiling this last year at home in Vancouver, alongside a great group of local athletes. I really had no intention of competing but as I spent more time on the water, I thought why not, especially when my motto starts with: ‘Dare to Dream!’
“I’m a bit late to the party, having only gotten on an iQFoil in November of 2023, but since then, I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can to build up my confidence with the iQFoil gear, which is completely different from the foil gear I was riding on for fun,” added Girke, who previously competed in RS:X windsurfing at the Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“Windsurfing foiling is a whole new game compared to RS:X; mass is an asset, and at 5’10”, the iQFoil better suits my body type. My passion for windsurfing and competing, along with the new iQFoil setup, opens the door for someone like me to compete not just for a spot in Paris, but the door could remain open even for Los Angeles… Who knows! But right now, I’m taking it day by day. Having a Canadian representative at the Olympics would be fantastic for the sport,” concluded Girke who, in Rio in 2016, became the first-ever Canadian sailor to compete in three different boat classes at the Olympic Games.
“My goal for the World Championships is to be top Canadian female so I can have a strong start in the Canadian athlete qualifiers,” said Rebecca Heller. “I’ve spent the last month training in Lanzarote, putting in hours on the water, so hopefully I will be well prepared for the conditions.”
On the men’s side, Cyrus (Cheuk Hin) Lai, who was born in Vancouver but is now living in Hong Kong, will represent Canada at the competition as he is trying to qualify the country and himself for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The last opportunity for Canada to earn a spot in the men’s and women’s iQFoil events at the Olympic Games will be at the Last Chance Regatta to be held in Hyères, France, April 21-28. At that event, the top five countries amongst those not already qualified will acquire the final spots. An extra spot for each gender will also be attributed at the Last Chance Regatta to the top members of the World Sailing Emerging Nations Program. Canada, however, is not part of that program.
How Canadian athletes qualify themselves for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games
The 2024 iQFoil World Championship is the first of two competitions that will serve as the Canadian qualification process in iQFoil for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, if Canada qualifies a spot.
For each class in which Canada qualifies a spot for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, athletes and teams can qualify themselves by being the athlete/team with the lowest score combined position from the 2024 World Championships in their respective classes and the 2024 Princess Sofia Regatta, added together, with selection being based on a sailing scoring system (lowest score first).
If there is a tie, the athlete/team in the higher position (based on the sailing scoring system) at the 2024 Princess Sofia Regatta will qualify to be nominated. If an event is cancelled, it will be replaced by the 2024 European Championships in that class.
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee after it has received nominations from all National Sport Organizations.
As of today, Canada has qualified spots for the sailing competitions at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in ILCA 6, 49er, 49erFX and women’s kiteboarding. For the other events, Canada can still qualify spots in other competitions that will be coming up in 2024.
Full qualification processes for countries to qualify spots at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the manner in which Canadians can qualify themselves to be nominated for the Paris 2024 Team Canada squad, as well as the full qualification calendar are available at https://www.sailing.ca/sc_event/2024-olympic-games/.
About Sail Canada
Established in 1931, Sail Canada is the national governing body for the sport of sailing in the country. Sail Canada is a leading international sailing nation, proud of its world class athletes, lifelong participants and inclusive culture. The organization and its members are committed to excellence by developing and training its leaders, athletes, sailors, instructors, coaches and officials. With the valued support from our partners, the Provincial Sailing Associations and our member clubs, schools, organizations and stakeholders, sailing is promoted in all its forms. By setting standards and delivering programs from home pond to podium for Canadians of all ages and abilities, from dinghies to keelboats, cruising to navigation, windsurfing to powerboating and accessible sailing, Sail Canada sets sail for all, sail to win and sail for life.
A sport in the Olympic program since the first Games in 1896, except in 1904, the pursuit of success in these Games is what fuels the focus of Sail Canada as Canadian athletes have so far achieved nine Olympic and five Paralympic medals.