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Luke Ruitenberg and Nikola Girke Take the Lead for Potential Canadian Spots

Feb 14, 2024

ILCA 7 

Luke Ruitenberg from St. Margaret’s Bay, N.S., was the top Canadian at the 2024 ILCA 7 Men’s World Championship, which ended January 31 in Adelaide, Australia, with a 40th-place finish, therefore taking the lead for the Canadian spot that will be awarded in this event at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, if Canada qualifies a spot.

The 2024 ILCA 7 Men’s World Championship was the first of two competitions serving for the Canadian athlete qualification process in ILCA 7. The second and last opportunity will be the Princess Sofia Regatta, March 29-April 6 in Palma, Spain. 

Ruitenberg’s 40th position was his best-ever personal performance at the ILCA 7 Men’s World Championship. He finished 70th in the past two editions. It was also Canada’s best performance at the ILCA 7 Men’s World Championship since 2020. 

The 2024 ILCA 7 Men’s World Championship also served as a spot qualification event for countries towards Paris 2024 for the top seven nations amongst those not already qualified. A total of 152 athletes were in action at the 2024 ILCA 7 Men’s World Championship, including all medalists from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the 2022 ILCA 7 World Championship and the 2023 Sailing World Championships.

Although this was Luke Ruitenberg’s best-ever personal performance at this event, it wasn’t enough to qualify a spot for the country in ILCA 7 at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, as Canada came in 11th position amongst the countries that had not already qualified.

“Despite not achieving the goal of qualifying Canada at this event, I’m happy with the way I sailed and knowing that I gave it everything I had this week,” said Ruitenberg. “I’ve had a lot of highs and lows over the last few weeks. Just before coming to Australia, I fell ill, I lost a lot of weight and I was questioning whether I’d be competitive at this championship. Over the following weeks, I was able to make a decent recovery, and I sailed a great qualifying series to start the regatta in 12-15 knot conditions. For the second part of the regatta in finals, we had a big breeze, with wind upwards of 25 knots on day 5. I reached my physical limit in those conditions and, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to perform at the same level.”

Canada will have one last chance to qualify a spot for the country in ILCA 7 for Paris at the Last Chance Regatta to be held April 21-26 in Hyères, France. There, Canadian sailors will need to finish amongst the top three countries not already qualified. 

Canadian ILCA 7 Ranking for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games (if Canada earns a spot)

(After event #1 out of 2)

1. Luke Ruitenberg (St. Margaret’s Bay, N.S.-RNSYS) – 40 pts
2. Mike Leigh (Nanaimo, B.C.) – 77 pts
3. Fillah Karim (Vancouver, B.C.-RVYC) – 79 pts
4. Ryan Anderson (Halifax, N.S.-RNSYS) – 80 points
5. Liam Bruce (Oakville, ON-Port Credit YC) – 85 pts
6. Norman Struthers (Toronto, ON-RCYC) – 91 pts
7. James Juhasz (Oakville, ON-BHYC) – 107 pts
8. Ben Flower (Tobermory, ON-Tobermory YC) – 121 pts

iQFoil

Nikola Girke from West Vancouver, was the top Canadian in the women’s event at the 2024 iQFoil World Championships, which ended Feb 3 in Lanzarote, Spain, taking the lead for the Canadian spot that would be awarded in this event at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, if Canada qualifies a spot.

The 2024 iQFoil World Championship was the first of two competitions serving for the Canadian athlete qualification process in ILCA 7. The second and last opportunity will be the Princess Sofia Regatta, March 29-April 6 in Palma, Spain. 

Canada’s last chance to qualify a spot for the country in iQFoil for Paris will also be at the Last Chance Regatta to be held April 21-26 in Hyères, France. There, Canadian sailors will need to finish amongst the top five countries that have not already qualified.

In Lanzarote, Nikola Girke took the 91st position while the other Canadian sailor in action in the women’s event, Rebecca Heller from Ottawa, took 93rd place.

“It was my second competition and a tough one at that,” said five-time Olympian Nikola Girke. “After there was no racing on the first day due to no wind, we ended up having five races a day in what was, many times, marginal foiling conditions. While I made some big strides forward, there is still so much to learn, and that comes with more time on the board. The ultimate goal is to earn Canada a spot for Paris at the Last Chance Regatta, and with that I need to improve significantly in a limited amount of time. Leading the qualifications is just one step in the right direction.”

On the men’s side, Cyrus (Cheuk Hin) Lai, who was born in Vancouver but now lives in Hong Kong, and who represented the Asian country at the 2023 World Sailing Championships last summer, took the 101st position.

Canadian iQFoil Rankings for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games (if Canada earns spots)

(After event #1 out of 2)

Women’s iQFoil

1. Nikola Girke – 91 pts
2. Rebecca Heller – 93 pts

Men’s iQFoil

1. Cyrus (Cheuk Hin) Lai – 101 pts *if eligible to represent Canada

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