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GJW Direct 2024 Dinghy

Heiner and Olympic gold medalist Kirketerp join Team JAJO for The Ocean Race

by Team JAJO 26 Apr 2023 12:34 UTC
Left to right: skipper Jelmer van Beek and Nicholas Heiner © Team JAJO

Olympic gold medalist Martin Kirketerp and former Laser World Champion Nicholas Heiner join Team JAJO for The Ocean Race. The Dane Kirketerp will be sailing on Team JAJO during both Leg 6 and 7, Dutchman Heiner will only sail Leg 7.

Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek is glad that he can add both former Olympians to his team. The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup will restart on June 4th with an In-Port Race in Aarhus, Denmark. On June 8th the fleet will set sail for the Hague, the Netherlands. The fleet will finish in Genoa, Italy at the end of June.

Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek on his choice for Kirketerp and Heiner: "Personally I haven't sailed with Martin. But he is widely known as an all-round professional. An insanely good sailor who can add a lot to the team as a sail trimmer. In addition, he is also known a as a real workhorse. His CV speaks for itself with Olympic gold, an Ocean Race, SailGP and a lot of experience in the TP52 class. I am happy that he is part of Team JAJO for the second part of the race."

"I know Nicholas well. We have sailed together in the past and we do speak regularly. Nicholas is a technical sailor, a good helmsman and hopefully he will also add something tactical. He is a strong sailor, just like Martin, and he will bring a lot of energy to the team. Something we will certainly need in the last all-decisive leg from The Hague to Genoa."

Martin Kirketerp
Aarhus, Denemark

  • 2008 Olympic gold 49-er
  • 2011-12 Team Sanya in The Ocean Race

For the Danish Kirketerp, winner of Olympic gold in the 49-er class back in 2008, his participation with Team JAJO means a return to The Ocean Race. In the 2011-12 edition Kirketerp participated with Team Sanya.

Kirketerp: "Off-shore racing and The Ocean Race has always been a big dream for me. Over the last 15 years I've done a descend amount of offshore racing and for some reason I just absolute love it. It can be painful and brutal. Sometimes you don't really know why you're doing it. But it provides you with some of the best sailing experiences you can have. I love it, you go through a lot of stuff together when you're offshore sailing and therefor I'm excited to be back in The Ocean Race."

"Team JAJO did a good first Leg. On the scoreboard we're now second overall so there is all to play for. Personally, I hopefully can bring a little bit more speed and experience to the team."

Nicholas Heiner
Enkhuizen, Netherlands

  • 2014 World Champion Laser
  • 2021 Olympic Games Tokyo - 4th Finn class

Heiner: "It's no secret that The Ocean Race has always been a dream of mine. In the last couple of years I have sailed on several VO65's. When Jelmer called me and asked if I was available for Leg 7 to join Team JAJO, I didn't have to think twice. It is great to be part of The Ocean Race with a Dutch team. Leg 7 from The Hague to Genoa will be a stage of about twelve days. Twelve days in which I will keep pushing and hopefully we can achieve a very good result."

For Heiner, who was mainly active in the Olympic circuit up to and including the 2021 Olympic Games, the Dutch sailors of Team JAJO are no strangers. "I certainly know Jelmer, Jorden and Rutger well. They were in the Team Heiner Talent program back in the days. It's nice to see how those men have developed themselves and where they stand today. I will be joining a team that is new to me, but it somehow feels familiar. That makes me really looking forward to it."

Aarhus and The Hague home port for sailors

Both sailors will make their debut for Team JAJO in their hometown. A special and unique experience to which both are already looking forward to.

Kirketerp: "It's an amazing privilege to start The Ocean Race in Aarhus, it's my hometown. I've been living here my whole life and it's going to be amazing to have The Ocean Race here. I'm so much looking forward to both, the In-Port Race, and the Leg start. I'm sure that Aarhus will provide a good show, good hospitality and hopefully there will be a lot of spectators. I hope they cheer us away and enjoy a few good days of yachting in Aarhus. Aarhus is a City of Sails. I have very big expectations of the whole event and I'm sure Aarhus will deliver. For me it's an amazing privilege to be onboard of Team JAJO and start a Leg in my hometown. That's a dream coming true."

Heiner: "It is very cool that Leg 7 will start in The Hague. For me it's now home waters. I have always dreamed of sailing the entire Ocean Race and then there are three special places on the route. Cape Town, where I have a lot of family living. New Zealand, where I spend a lot of time with my girlfriend, who is from there. And The Hague where I'm living for the last few years. During the previous edition, back in 2018, you saw what an amazing crowd came down to the harbour and how enthusiastic all those Dutch supporters were. It must be an amazing feeling to be part of it as a sailor. I am really looking forward to racing the In-Port race here and then also starting the Leg n The Hague. That must be something very special."

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