Sole’, Martin sail into Youth Olympic Games
The Houston area is home to a wide range of exceptional athletes, from youth and high school standouts to professional stars and Olympic champions.
The list includes two of the best young sailors in the world.
Nico Martin and AnaClare Sole’ will represent the United States at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. The duo will compete in the two-person multihull Nacra 15 regatta, Oct. 8-13 at Club Nautico in San Isidro.
“It’s really exciting, especially since we had this as a goal when we started sailing this boat,” Martin said. “Just to be able to compete against all these other high-level teams and knowing we can be competitive.”
Similar to the grand event, the summer youth games occur every four years, bringing a bit of fortunate timing into the mix for competitors.
Sole’ and Martin started sailing together more than a year ago, though they knew one another for years in local sailing circles. Sole’, a senior at Kinkaid, is a member of Texas Corinthian Yacht Club, while Martin sails with Seabrook Sailing Club.
Both have sailed since age six and have ample experience sailing competitively. Martin has sailed in 2923, 420 and Optimist classes.
Sole’ grew up sailing I420 with her sister, Kinkaid graduate and current Stanford University sailing team member Sophia Sole’. They will soon have a chance to sail together again, as AnaClare recently finalized her plans to attend and compete for Stanford.
The Nacra 15 is a relatively new craft for Martin and Sole’, as well as all sailors. The catamaran has only been in production since 2015 as a smaller version of the Nacra 17 used in Olympic competition.
Racing the speedy boat can challenge one’s skill, experience and athleticism.
“It’s definitely the most difficult boat I’ve ever sailed,” Sole’ said. “I started running cross country for school because that helps with endurance. We both lift and work on our upper body. It’s kind of dangerous. You have to wear helmets because it’s so fast. This summer I cut my leg and had to get stitches.”
Working together, the tandem quickly proved to be among the nation’s best. They qualified for the Youth Olympic Games last November at the Nacra 15 North American Championships in Miami.
Martin and Sole’ won the championship in a field of 17 teams, amassing 25 points for a five-point victory. Similar to cross country, teams earn points based on finish, with the worst finish discarded and the low cumulative score winning.
Sole’ and Martin excelled in Miami, winning five of 10 races and adding a second-place finish and two fifth-place finishes. They won the final race to seal a trip to Argentina.
The duo represented the United States at the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships, July 14-21 at the Corpus Christi Yacht Club. With so many competitions in other states and abroad, Sole’ said it was a welcome opportunity to sail a major event in Texas.
“In previous years it was in Malaysia,” Sole’ said. “We were lucky this year. It was right in our backyard. Our family was able to come and we also got to meet a lot of people that will be competing in Argentina.”
Martin and Sole’ held their own against international competition, placing seventh out of 24 teams. They scored 84 points, winning the final two races and adding third and fourth-place finishes.
They traveled to New Orleans for another event this past week in preparation for the Youth Olympic Games. The hours training and miles accumulated to reach an elite performance level have required dedication and some sacrifice.
Martin, who is in his senior year of high school, takes courses though Stanford’s online school.
“It’s a challenge to be gone all the time,” Martin said. “(Last Wednesday) we left for New Orleans at 6 a.m. so I could take my class at 11:45 a.m. You have to miss a lot of school and family functions, social activities. We spent New Year’s training in Florida.”
The reward is opportunities like the one awaiting in Argentina. Both are confident in their chances entering the Youth Olympic Games, having competed with a few of the same teams in Corpus Christi and training with the host team that is likely the favorite.
Sole’ and Martin could return to Houston as medalists, providing another highlight to what has been a memorable experience on the water.