Wollmann rides winds of fate all way to Rio
Cecilia Wollmann took the traditional plunge in the waters of Biscayne Bay after becoming Bermuda's youngest sailor to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Wollmann, who was racing at the World Cup in Miami, punched her ticket after completing the Gold Fleet in the women's Laser Radial as the top sailor from North America yet to qualify for the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
It was the final act of what has been a steady performance all week in variable and challenging conditions by Wollmann, who celebrated her eighteenth birthday just a week ago.
“It was such a relief to finish and have qualified,” Wollmann said. “It's always nice to reach a goal that you have worked really hard for.
“I have been doing a lot of training and racing to prepare for this and it is such a nice feeling to see it has all paid off.”
The battle for the only qualifying spot available boiled down to a match race between Wollmann and Natalia Montemayor, of Mexico.
“I took the racing more as a match race as my main goal was to remain in front of Mexico,” Wollmann said. “Throughout the race I always knew where she was and tried to stay close to her so she could not get too many points on me.
“Although I tried at the beginning of the regatta to put as little pressure on myself as possible, as I saw that the possibility of me qualifying was so close I started to get more tense, excited and nervous at the same time.”
Wollmann posted scores of 27, 32 and 40 to end the regatta in 40th overall and become the first local woman sailor to qualify for the Olympics since Paula Lewin, who competed in the Yngling class at the 2004 Games in Athens.
Wollmann, who is also competing for a spot on Bermuda's Red Bull Youth America's Cup team, began the day locked in a two-horse race with Montemayor. The two sailors were level on points, with Wollmann just ahead on a tiebreaker in 37th place overall.
The moderate ten-knot breezes that greeted the fleet in the morning must have been a good omen for Wollmann, who thrives in lighter conditions.
The promising sailor could not have asked for a better start after finishing four boats ahead of her Mexican rival in yesterday's first race to give her confidence a timely boost.
Wollmann's good fortune continued in the second race during which she managed to put further distance between herself and the charging Montemayor.
With only nine-points seperating the two sailors heading into the final race in the Gold Fleet, there was still plenty of work to be done for the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy sailor.
Montemayor crossed the line ahead of Wollmann to cut the deficit, but it wasn't enough.
“It is a well-deserved result and the Bermuda Olympic Association couldn't be prouder of Ceci,” Judy Simons, the BOA president, said. “She's worked extremely hard.
“I know that realistically 2016 was not on her radar as she was really looking for 2020. But when she prepared her four-year plan she intimated she would like to give it a go and she got her just rewards.
“We are all so extremely proud of her and she deserves the representation and the accolades that come her way. We just couldn't be happier for her.”
Also competing in Miami was Wollmann's compatriot, Cameron Pimentel, who came up short in his qualifying bid after placing 71st in the 98-boat Laser men's fleet.