2019 will go down in history as the year Tauranga windsurfer Veerle ten Have came of age. With national titles under her belt, she spent much of the year training and racing overseas. She spoke to sports reporter David Beck about the year that was and her plans moving forward.
• Sailing: Tauranga's Veerle ten Have a winner at Volvo Yachting Excellence Awards in Auckland
• Sailing: Tauranga's Veerle ten Have and Max van der Zalm secure top spots at 2019 New Zealand Windsurf Slalom Nationals, Lyttelton
• Youth Olympic Games: Tauranga athletes make mark on world stage
• Veerle ten Have to compete in Europe
Veerle ten Have admits she has always been a competitive person.
It is no surprise then that the 19-year-old's desire to be the best helped her reach new heights in the sport of windsurfing in 2019.
The year started perfectly. In January, she secured two titles at her first windsurf slalom nationals competition, winning the Youth Female and Overall Women's titles. She took the titles after winning 10 races and finishing second in two others.
She went on to compete at the RS:X Europeans in Spain in April, the 2020 World Cup Series 1 in Japan in July and the RS:X World Championships in Italy. She also spent several months training in Japan with two-time Olympic medallist Bruce Kendall.
Ten Have said training and competing overseas, in a range of conditions and against varying opponents, had been huge for her development.
"It started with nationals and we had quite a lot of overseas people here for that. It was really good but a really tough event because some of the top people from around the world and light wind, which is not my strong point."
RS:X Europeans in Spain was her first time racing overseas as a senior and she learned a lot.
"It was really good learning over there. I reckon I could've done a bit better but for my first senior event I was pretty happy.
"There were little things, like the start, that I knew I could work on. It was good because after that I went to Japan to train with the Japanese for two months and I was able to focus on those things.
"Bruce Kendall coaches them and he's a New Zealander so they asked if I wanted to come over and join them. It fitted in well with World Cup Series being there and obviously that's the Olympic sailing ground as well."
She has more international events lined up in 2020, starting in Australia this month, with the ultimate goal being a spot at the Tokyo Olympics. In windsurfing, athletes qualify for a spot for their country and then a selection committee decides who will go.
"I missed out on qualifying by one place at the worlds but I have another chance to qualify [for] a spot for New Zealand this year. There's one spot for Oceania so I have to be the top woman from Oceania.
"It is exciting [knowing Olympics is a possibility]. I basically just have to keep training hard and getting fit, those are the main things. It basically comes down to time on the water and getting in as many hours as possible before racing starts."
I am competitive, I don't like losing. To compete at the Olympics would be a pretty incredible experience, it would be a massive honour.
Ten Have has been windsurfing for about five years. She was encouraged into it by her brother and quickly discovered a passion for racing.
"My brother actually got me into it, he told me to have a go and it kind of escalated from there. I think the main thing I enjoy is the racing and the competitive atmosphere. When you go out and train it's fun, but the racing is the best part.
"I am competitive, I don't like losing. To compete at the Olympics would be a pretty incredible experience, it would be a massive honour."