FRIDAY, MAY 11: The pressure may be off for Jesse and Zander Kirkland to qualify for the Olympics but the pair are looking to finish strong at the 49ers World Championships in Croatia.
They received the great news they had qualified for the 2012 London Games.
Yesterday they had finishes of 16, 2 and 15 in the Gold Fleet, which is the top 25 sailors from the first three days of racing. They are ninth overall
Zander told the Bermuda Sun, the brothers felt “so relieved that it still really has not sunk in. It has just been such a long, hard project. It took a while for me to realize we had done it.
“Going into the racing in the morning, it was all to play for and we knew we had to execute to get the job done. We were wound tight, but still sailed great. It felt amazing to pull that off.”
He said their success in Croatia can be partly attributed to the practice sessions before the main racing.
“We were going well and knew it would be a case of showing up for the event.”
He added the success they had last month in Spain “proved to the fleet that we could put a good event together.”
Zander added: “It was a combination of a new boat, culmination of our hard work over the past two years in putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
“We know we can sail with anybody in this fleet in these light to medium conditions.”
The top 10 sailors will compete in the final medal race and Zander said they “would be over the moon” to qualify for it.
“It is such an elite group and to be included, would be huge.
“It is a real battle out there in gold fleet, very unforgiving, but we are learning some great lessons, so hopefully we can continue to learn.”
Zander also paid tribute to their coach Ramon Oliden, a two-time Olympic medalist.
“He knows the boat and fleet well and has great advice for our tactics and boat speed.”