‘We push each other in the team’

Watersports talent Marissa IJben (ILCA-6)

Dutch Water Week gives a stage to beginners and budding talent. Marissa IJben certainly belongs in the latter category. The 19-year-old TeamAllianz sailor from Heerenveen has big dreams and based on what she has already shown, they certainly do not remain dreams.

Ask Marissa why she chose the ILCA-6 and you will get a clear answer. She is a type who likes to be at the controls herself.

“I started in an Optimist and I did try it, mind you, in a boat with two people, but then it soon became clear to me that I like it better to make my own choices and also to be able to blame only myself when things go wrong.”


But that is certainly not the only reason.

“In a laser it might not be super hard, but the matches last an hour and there is also a piece of tactics and strategy involved. You have to think about it more, that’s how I experience it.”

At TeamAllianz, the national sailing team, she has support from more experienced teammates Maxime Jonker, Mirthe Akkerman and Marit Bouwmeester, who are of course also her competitors at the same time.

“On the water, but on shore, we have a great time together. And we get to know each other well during the training camps. The four of us have two coaches, Jaap Zielhuis and Ben Koppelaar, so that’s quite a luxury.”


She quite looked up to multiple world champion Marit Bouwmeester, who also won all colours of Olympic medals, when she progressed from the National Talent Team to TeamAllianz. “She was my idol after all. It still felt slightly strange at the first training session, but that is over. I can learn a lot from her and the others. We push each other a lot during training and that only makes me better.”

So far, Marissa certainly has no complaints about her development.

“The first big race this season was a World Cup in Palma and I hadn’t been in the boat for a month because of a knee injury. I didn’t expect to be able to sail all the races, but I could handle it physically. We have had good training camps this winter and also sailed good races already.”


The Allianz Regatta during Dutch Water Week is another test, also towards the Allianz World Sailing Championship in The Hague. There, the entire team may compete. For IJben, that will be the provisional highlight of her still young career. She already finished fourth once in 2019 at the Youth World Cup in Poland. Above expectations.

After the World Championships in her own country, she continues to dream of great things. The Olympics are a nice dot on the horizon. Not that of Paris, but that of 2028 in Los Angeles. Let the foreign commentators start practising on her surname….

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Allianz Regatta 2024 will not take place

Allianz Regatta 2024 will not take place