Royal Vancouver Yacht Club’s Nikola Girke will represent Canada at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to start 23 July 2021. Her fifth time competing in the Olympics, she is the first Canadian sailor to ever compete across three different boat classes: 470 at Athens 2004, RS:X at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and Nacra 17 at Rio 2016. In Tokyo, she will add windsurfing to that list, making it four.
“When I started sailing on Royal Vancouver Yacht Club’s race team back when I was 14 years old, I never imagined that I would be representing RVYC on the world stage almost 30 years later,” Nikola said. “Going to a fifth Olympics was never a goal of mine, but knowing this would be the last Olympics for non-foiling windsurfing — my favorite sport — when the opportunity presented itself in 2019 to make a comeback and qualify myself for these Games, I just couldn’t resist the chance to try.”
She said not being able to travel to train during the pandemic forced her to get creative to stay in shape. “I have never run as much as I did this last year. Being in top physical condition with the ability to recover well is absolutely key for windsurfing. Living on the side of a mountain has me doing killer hill sprints and endurance runs with beautiful views, while supplementing these workouts with battle ropes, an assault bike, a TRX, weights and bands at home — all which have me feeling fitter and ready to compete again.”
The training has kept her mentally fit, as well. “I’ve been able to find a good rhythm that gives me the balance that I need, especially in our COVID world. Needless to say, I’ve done a LOT of solo training,” she said. “Luckily, living in one of the most beautiful places on earth, I have been able to enjoy sailing at my local beach and at a lake in the interior, as I opted to stay away from others.”
Her feats on the Olympic course have included recording Canada’s best-ever Olympic result in the event with her 10th place finish at London. “These Olympics will look very different than any other Olympics I’ve been to — and in the history of the Olympic Games,” she noted. “Due to COVID, I won’t be able to go over as early as I’d like. I will also be in 14-day quarantine upon arrival, all athletes will be segregated from each other, other sailors and countries, and we won’t be allowed ‘out and about’. There won’t be any overseas spectators. However, our actual racing on the water will be the same! Things change almost daily as Japan tries to keep the Olympics happening while the world continues fighting COVID-19. Lots of excitement in a time that hasn’t been very positive. Thank you, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club for your continued support over all the years that have now become decades.”
Commodore Peter Wealick said, “I am proud of the accomplishments of our Club’s athletes. To perform on the world stage is an incredible opportunity. Being able to support the growth of not only our racers, but our fellow members, is truly what our community is all about.”