The Niels Smith sports scholarship of 1500 euros will be going this year to Floortje Hoogstede (20), a Nutrition & Health Bachelor’s student. Only she won’t be sailing competitively for the next while.
‘This is a boost for my further development as a sportswoman’, says Floortje Hoogstede. © Floortje Hoogstede
WUR student Floortje Hoogstede has been sailing for years. ‘I started in an Optimist, progressed to a Splash and now have a Laser Radial. These are all one-person boats. The Laser is pretty much the final stage for women who sail singlehandedly — I’ve now basically done all I can in that class.’ Hoogstede was recently approached by a friend and asked to join a team for a sailing competition in Helsinki. ‘In a four. All the team members are girls I’ve sailed with in the past. We were supposed to start training in April, but that hasn’t happened. Those one and a half metres, hey. The competition has been cancelled anyway so it’s not clear how that team will develop.’
The sailing competition is not the only thing that has been wiped out by the coronavirus crisis. ‘I started a minor in Valencia in mid-January. I was supposed to come home in June but I flew back early. In principle I’m still studying for it and doing exams online but I’m not getting that experience. It’s obviously a shame but I think everyone is having such setbacks at the moment.’
How do you get a sports scholarship? ‘I took part in a lot of international Laser sailing competitions last year. That is quite expensive so I got a sponsor deal with MagicMarine and put in an application to the Niels Smith fund. And now I’ve got it: 1500 euros to spend on my sport. This is a boost for my further development as a sportswoman. It’s fantastic.’ The sailing world may have come to a standstill but Hoogstede still sails sometimes. ‘I come from Oud-Beijerland and I can easily take my old Laser out on the water at the club where I started, WSV Binnenmaas.’