West Vancouver sailors catch windsurfing's final Olympic waves

Windsurfing is likely on its way out of the Olympic Games and West Vancouvers Zac Plavsic and Nikola Girke both used the global stage of London 2012 to show that they are amongst the worlds best.

The event, known as RS-X, ended with medal races Tuesday and Plavsic finished eighth overall on the mens side while Girke placed 10th in the womens competition. Both racers were the highest finishing North or South American competitors in their events and Plavsic ended up as the top-finishing Canadian in the entire sailing competition, which was held on the waters off of Weymouth, south of London on the English Channel.

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Only the top-10 finishers from a series of 10 races qualified for Tuesdays final medal race, a mark that Girke and Plavsic both met.

Plavsic entered the final secure in eighth spot with a shot of moving all the way up to fifth. His race, however, soon fell apart. Literally.

My boom came off my mast Ive never seen that happen before, Plavsic told the North Shore News by phone from London. I couldnt even sail, the boom came right off. Its like a shoe coming off in track and field or a wheel coming off in a bike race. . . . I managed to MacGyver it back together and finished the race. Not only did I finish the race, but I worked my ass off. I left everything on the water in that last race. If you look at the race and you look at the individual times, I gained on every single competitor.

Plavsic said he had no hope of catching anyone after his equipment failed but there was no way he was going to just give up.

As soon as I got my boom back together I was like, Im last and theres nothing I can do about it but . . . I want to see these guys coming back towards me. I want to claw my way back as much as I can.

As Plavsic approached the finish line, well back from the rest of the field but making up ground, he was cheered on by his Canadian teammates along with the thousands of fans watching the race.

It was really nice, it was emotional for me and it made me work that much harder, he said. I was devastated about the breakage but thats the name of the game. Shit happens. You deal with it, you hold your head up high and you move onwards and you do the best you can.

Girke, meanwhile, came into the medal race ranked 10th and thats where she stayed, improving on her performance four years ago in Beijing where she finished 17th.

I am proud to have placed 10th and relieved but disappointed in my outcome, Girke wrote in an email to the North Shore News after the race was over. I can say with confidence that I, 100 per cent, showed up at the Games.

Girke also experienced some equipment problems throughout the competition that played a part in derailing her dreams of winning a medal.

I had some equipment issues that were beyond my control (as we had supplied equipment) and that makes it heartbreaking for me, she said. Although I was not alone in these issues, as each race passed, my Olympic dreams and goals slid away from me.

Girke, however, was satisfied that she gave it her all.

I raced extremely well, and executed what I set out to do, and thus I can feel happy about my progress and performance. It was my perseverance and determination that got me there in the first place.

The 2012 Games likely marked the end of windsurfing in the Olympics it is slated to be replaced by kite surfing in 2016 leaving both Girke and Plavsic without an easy path to the Rio Olympics. Both, however, hinted that they will explore other ways of harnessing the wind and the waves in hopes of getting back to the Games.

aprest@nsnews.com

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