Wang-Hansen to anchor Norwegian sonar trio at Worlds

In just a little over one month Norway’s Aleksander Wang-Hansenk will try to lead his sonar crew to a world title. 22 Jul 2013
Norway sonar sailing team

Norway's Aleksander Wang Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen celebrate winning bronze in the three-person keelboat event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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By Claudia Larouche | For the IPC

"I have no idea which team will walk away a world champion this year."

The IFDS Sailing World Championships are quickly approaching, and in the training period leading up to the event in Kinsale, Ireland, Norway’s three-person sonar team are exposing their variety of personalities.

Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Per Eugen Kristiansen and Marie Solberg all spent spent their childhood on the water learning the ropes of sailing and polishing their skills all the way up to their bronze-medal performance at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Both teams who finished ahead of the Norwegians in London – the Dutch and Germans – will be at the World Championships, which run from 26-30 August.

Each of the Norwegians has a specific role on the boat, and they insist the way they interact drive their decisions on the water.

When not competing, the trio even spends 10 hours a week on the water perfecting their maneuvers, boat speed, timing and positioning. On top of this, they individually spend five to 10 hours in the gym for core strength, control and endurance training.

"We talk about what’s happening with the wind and weather, what the fleet is doing and how we will act accordingly," said Wang-Hansen, a three-time Paralympian.

"We also talk about how the boat feels and how things have to be coordinated to make the boat go as fast as possible."

Solberg – the sole woman – is young and enthusiastic. She is the one who always keeps spirits high even when her teammates are grumpy and disappointed.

"She works hard and learns fast. She is now one of the best mainsail trimmers in the fleet," said Wang-Hansen, who is the helmsman steering the boat.

Kristiansen, sailing in the sonar event since 1999, is analytical, focused and intelligent.

Wang-Hansen described him as being very systematic in his work and always looking for things to improve on.

"The goals are set by all the small changes we do to improve as sailors," said Kristiansen. "By collaborating and timing different technical maneuvers, we will gain speed."

That leaves Wang-Hansen as the boat manager, allowing him to focus on the steering and maintaining high speeds while keeping a perspective of the course in order to make the best strategic decisions possible on the water.

"I will often sit down before the race or between races, and try to imagine what situations may occur and find all possible actions and outcomes in order to be best prepared," Wang-Hansen said.

Despite being the “manager” of the squad, the 31-year-old wouldn’t make any predictions for the Championships.

"I have no idea which team will walk away a world champion this year," Wang-Hansen said.