Last week 18-year-old Erika Reineke placed 8th overall in the Laser Radial at the Laser World Championship. We caught up with the US Sailing Development Team Laser Radial sailor to talk to her about her impressive performance at Worlds and her training as she looks toward the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Congratulations on your 8th place in the Laser Radial at the Laser World Championship! What made this event important to you personally?
Erika Reineke: After winning two ISAF Youth World Championships, I wanted to prove to myself that I could be a real competitor with the top girls in the world.
What were some of your expectations for this event? How did your results compare to these expectations?
Erika Reineke: Going into this event, I knew that the weather was going to be cold and shifty, and the waves were going to be nothing like Fort Lauderdale. It was basically the exact opposite conditions I had been training in. I kept confidence in myself high though. I knew that these conditions were going to be challenging for everyone and training could only get you so far because everyone’s results were going to be up and down. Finishing 8th in a World Championship is far from what I expected. I am happy with my result but it is still distant from what I want to achieve in the Radial. It’s another step closer though. One day at a time, one race at a time.
What about the competitors? What was it like being among a fleet of the world’s best and holding your own out there?
Erika Reineke: Honestly, being a rookie, I look up to the older girls and because of how intimidating they are, I am extremely shy around them. It sounds silly but it’s true! During this event, some of them actually came up to me and congratulated me on my sailing. I couldn’t believe they were talking to me. I will always greatly respect them. They are the ones who are pushing the future of the sport.
How was this event different from some of the other Laser Radial events you have participated in this year?
Erika Reineke: Compared to past events this year, Worlds was my peak event. I had only competed in three radial regattas before the worlds. After the Worlds in Perth, I wanted to focus on High School Sailing. I had been out the first half of the season because of a wakeboarding accident. We focused on qualifying for the Nationals and Team Race Nationals and accomplished our goal. Even though High School sailing isn’t a test of fitness like the Radial can be, I found myself tactically improving because of the short courses and this definitely helped in Boltenhagen.
What are some short term goals you have set for yourself for the rest of the year?
Erika Reineke: The US Youth Championship this year is in the Gorge. This will be my last youth event ever and I am returning to it with the trophy from last year. Even though this isn’t a World Cup event, the level of competition is not far from it. I am going to be a freshman at Boston College this year! I will be focusing on college sailing and trying to learn as much as I can from the team. I know they will push me to become a better sailor.
To prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio you will be training over a long period of time, can you tell us a little bit about your training plans over the next four years?
Erika Reineke: I just moved into the Radial three years ago and it seems surreal to already be talking about the Games. This past quad has been such a great learning experience and I know in 2016, training will only get more difficult. I will be 21 by the time of the next trails and a college student. I can’t say exactly what my plans are but I will definitely be competing in a few World Cup events in the beginning of the quad. Even if my time in the Radial will be limited with college sailing, I will be getting physically stronger with the gym and trainers available to me. Fitness and experience was my weakness for 2012 and it will not be my weakness for 2016.