Olympic Stories

Lobke Berkhout - Sailing

Lobke Berkhout - Sailing

Born on November 11, 1980 in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands, Lobke Berkhout is a world champion Dutch sailor who is set to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London for her home country. In the 2-person dinghy 470-class, there are no sailors more talented than Berkhout. Her domination of the sport is unprecedented, regardless of gender, age or nationality.

As dominant a sailor as Lobke is, however, the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing were a huge letdown for Berkhout and then partner Marcelien de Koning. Although the duo did manage to win the Olympic Silver medal, the expectations were much higher; and frankly, Lobke and Marcelien were far and away the best sailors in the competition. With a new partner heading into the 2012 Games, Berkhout is seeking the only finish that matters to her or her country: 1st.

Sporting Career

Lobke Berkhout is from a family of sailors. Her grandfather captained a famous Dutch royal yacht for Queen Beatrix, and while Berkhout’s parents weren’t exactly royals, they were still of affluent means and avid sailors. When Berkhout was just a child, she was given a boat on her 8th birthday. While other kids might receive a football or a dollhouse that young, Lobke was already heading out onto the water and learning how to sail. Needless to say, the lifetime of sailing has paid huge dividends.

Berkhout wasted no time dreaming of Olympic glory. The exact same year she received her boat, Lobke witnessed Yvonne van Gennip, a famous Dutch skater, win three gold medals at the 1998 Calgary Winter Olympic Games. By the time Lobke entered the professional ranks, she was already a better sailor than half the field, and would quickly rise above the remaining half on an astonishing climb.

Minor achievements aside, Lobke’s sailing dominance began in 2005 in the professional ranks. Traveling to San Francisco that year to compete in the 470 World Championships, Berkhout and her partner practically ran away with first place. And while they wouldn’t experience that same success in the Delta Lloyd Regatta that year, only winning bronze, the pair did retain their title at the World Championships in 2006.

Lobke corrected previous mistakes and took gold in the Delta Lloyd Regatta in late 2006, and to show that she had no equal in the sport, Berkhout and her teammate won their third consecutive world title in Cascais in 2007. After another gold medal win at the 470 Rolex Miami OCR, the Delta Lloyd bad luck struck again and left Lobke holding only a bronze medal heading into the 2008 Beijing Games.

Although she raced well, Lobke only managed to win silver at the Olympics. Since then, she has replaced her partner, and her new partner, Lisa Westerhof, has proven to be an even better talent, helping Lobke win the past two world titles, bringing Berkhout’s total to 5 – an unmatched feat. Lobke enters the 2012 Games as the favorite in the 470-class sailing event.

Career Highlights

  • 2005 World Championships – Gold
  • 2005 Delta Lloyd Regatta – Bronze
  • 2006 World Championships – Gold
  • 2006 Delta Lloyd Regatta – Gold
  • 2007 World Championships – Gold
  • 2007 Rolex Miami OCR – Gold
  • 2008 Olympic Games – Silver
  • 2009 World Championships – Gold
  • 2010 World Championships – Gold
  • 2012 Summer Olympics – Bronze

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