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Evi VAN ACKER (BEL)

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21 year old Evi VAN ACKER from Belgium has been a force to be reckoned with out on the Laser Radial fleet throughout the nomination period. She has won seven of the ten ISAF Graded events she has entered, including three Grade 1 events, successfully defended her European crown and was ranked as the # 1 sailor between February and May.

VAN ACKER began the nomination period by picking up a gold medal at the Open Dutch Championships, she then claimed the bronze medal at the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR before returning to Europe for the summer circuit. First stop was the Expert Olympic Garda which she won convincingly by claiming the bullet in every race and cruising to a comfortable gold medal with a second place in the Medal Race. VAN ACKER's success continued in April and May with more gold medals and her next stop was the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais. After a disappointing result in Cascais, Evi bounced right back, digging deep at the Laser Radial Europeans in the Netherlands to defend her title. The final event in the nomination period was the Qingdao International Regatta where Evi finished on the podium again, taking home the bronze medal.

1 - Delta Lloyd Open Dutch Sailing Championship, Medemblik, NED - ISAF Grade 3 - Sep 2006
3 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA - ISAF Grade 1 - Jan 2007
1 - Expert Olympic Garda - Eurolymp, Riva del Garda, ITA - ISAF Grade 2 - Mar 2007
1 - HRH Princess Sofia Trophy, Palma, ESP - ISAF Grade 2 - Apr 2007
1 - Semaine Olympique Française, Hyères, FRA - ISAF Grade 1 - Apr 2007
1 - United 4 (II), Muiderzand, NED - ISAF Grade 3 - May 2007
1 - Breitling Regatta, Medemblik, NED - ISAF Grade 1 - May 2007
13 - ISAF Sailing World Championships, Cascais, POR - ISAF Grade W - Jul 2007
1 - Laser Radial European Championship, Scheveningen, NED - ISAF Grade C1 - Jul 2007
3 - Qingdao International Regatta, Qingdao, CHN - ISAF Grade 2 - Aug 2007

ISAF World Sailing Rankings position at the end of the nomination period (29 August 2007) - # 2
ISAF World Sailing Rankings # 1 from 7 February 2007 to 30 May 2007

Name Evi Van Acker
Place of birth Gent, Belgium
Date of birth 23 September 1985
Profession Sailor / student
ISAF Sailor ID BELEV2
What inspired you to take up sailing? I was born as a "water rat" and when my older brother took up sailing on a small lake near my parent's house I got in touch with the fun and excitement of sailing in an Optimist.
What was the first boat you sailed and how old were you? The Optimist at age 7.
How did you buy your first boat and what was it? After inheriting three Optimists from my brother, my parents bought me my first own boat just before the Optimist European Championship in 1998.
Name your first sailing club Royal Belgian Sailing Club
What was the first event you competed in and when? Club Championship in 1992
What was the first event you won and when? Optimist European Championship in 1998
What are your personal highlights of your career to date? Winning Holland Regatta and the European Championship in 2006 in the Laser Radial was definitely remarkable and unforgettable for personal reasons. These victories are engraved in my heart. 2007 has been a dream come true because I won most of the competitions I participated in (Expert Garda, SAR Princess Sofia Trophee, Semaine Olympique Française, Breitling Regatta, European Championship) and as a result I am definitely representing my country at the Olympic Games in 2008. The bronze medal at the Qingdao International Regatta gave me a good taste for next year.
What are your future sailing goals? In the short run I hope to perform at the peak of my talent during the Olympics in 2008. Campaigning for the Olympics in 2012 would be natural considering my age. Foremost I want to stay involved with sailing for the rest of my life. An ultimate dream is to become involved in an America`s Cup syndicate on or off the boat perhaps even as a PR officer.
Who has had the greatest impact on your sailing career and why? Until a few years ago everything was in my own hands. Of course sailing would not have been possible for me without the support of my family. Nowadays the team surrounding me creates the possibility to evolve at a higher pace. My coach Wil van BLADEL, his experience, his never-ending love for sailing and the way he teaches me certainly had and still has a high impact on my sailing career.
Who is your sailing hero? I do not have a specific sailing hero. There are many good examples of sailors who were able to develop their talents through dedication and hard work such as: Paul ELVSTRÖM, Russell COUTTS Ben AINSLIE, Robert SCHEIDT, Tom SLINGSBY, Siren SUNDBY, Shirley ROBERTSON and others. They motivate me to do the same.
What other sports do you enjoy? Running, rowing, swimming and surfing
What does being nominated for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards mean to you? I train hard on and off the water and I just love to play the game. It is only natural for me to devote most of my time and energy to this sport. This nomination is a clear recognition for the hard work. I am thrilled and honoured to be shortlisted amongst such wonderful sailors.
If you were voted as the winner, what would this mean to you? Winning this award would not change my level of passion for sailing, but it would certainly give me a better opportunity to promote sailing as the ultimate sport for the youth in my country and beyond. Personally my eyes would be filled with tears when I relive the past two years as a sailor and family member.
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