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  • Foto van schrijverNicholas Heiner

BLOG 3 (ENG): Heiner vs. Heiner, father/son-clash on the IJsselmeer

If someone told me three years ago that my dad would now be on my coaching team, I would have laughed. If someone then also had said that I would race him in the Finn on August 15-16th 2020, I would have laughed very hard. In short, I have a lot to explain.

As the son of Roy Heiner you know where you come from. All my life, with this surname in a sailing boat but also during my studies in sportsmanangement at university, I was told that I was probably the son of. I am. Nothing wrong with that, but of course I especially wanted to make him the father of... call it ambition.

Entire generations know Roy Heiner as a sailor. Four times he went to the Olympic Games, in Atlanta (1996) he won bronze in the Finn, the boat I now also sail in. Twice he skippered the most prominent race around the world, the Whitbread of 1997/1998 and the Volvo Ocean of 2001/2002. A race that is also high on my wish list for later.

As a son of, you tend to want to do it all by yourself. Besides, if there is one thing I learned from my father, it is to always set your own course! We Heiners are principle driven and we pursue dreams. This has brought Roy a lot, and sometimes it also costs. My own final balance has yet to come, first next year after the Tokyo Games.

Roy has been involved in my campaign on an expert basis for over a year now and he will remain to do so until the Olympics. Steps in my process go faster with him around, we noticed. Mark Andrews, my coach, is not as experienced as Roy. But Mark and I work very well together on a day to day basis. Roy brings in very valuable information with his knowledge and vision. Mark sees the added value and also benefits from this teamwork.

And Mark most definitely must not feel threatened. My father will never be my coach at the Olympics. That is very clear to me. Maybe because we are both too restless and too eager to go improve. At the Olympics you also need to stay calm, keep overview and have the proper reflection. Our mutual family ‘overdrive’ can then be a threat.

If he coaches me, he's Roy to me. Anywhere else I call him Pa. I've been used to that for a long time, because I also work at his company sometimes, Team Heiner. But that I’m going to sail against him now, that is special.

Because the European Championships in Poland on August 30th and maybe even the World Championships in Palma de Mallorca in October will take place, and because I haven't competed for a long time, I am organizing a race myself. On August 15th and 16th, we sail races at Medemblik with my international training partners and a field of ambitious Dutch Finn sailors, including... Roy Heiner.

Pa likes to sail a race and if he is still close at the top mark, I also benefit from him as an opponent. But if possible, especially on the run, I'll be gone. He just wants to help me as an expert coach, and he can do that well. Roy helps sailors further. He doesn't impose himself, but if you ask him, he will help you.

Back in the days we did go head to head like fathers and sons can do, but now we work together. I never expected that myself, but secretly I think it's super fun. And, I'm just going to say it: if I want to learn, I have to listen to the advice of this graying man.


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