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Women/Laurence Bonneau-Charland

Laurence Bonneau-Charland – CAN 65

Her adventure starts in 1997 when she first tried sailing Optimist at the age of 8 years old. She loved it but never thought of becoming a big sailor later in the future. She was training 20 hours a week in gymnastics during that time. Four years later, her parents decided to send her and her three brothers to a one week sailing camp near her cottage, a camp that helped to deepen her current passion. When Laurence was 15, the Quebec Sailing Team coach saw her sailing and invited her to compete in the Byte Canadian Championship. However, due to the fact that she did not have a boat, she simply got a ride on the coach's boat and it's only in summer of 2005 that she made her way to the Quebec Games where she finished 7th and got her spot on the Quebec Sailing Team. In January 2006, her cousin (member of the Canadian national team at that time) sold Laurence one of her Radials and that same year, the young girl was sailing the dream in her first North American Championship and International Youth event. Two years later, she got her spot to participate in the Radial World Youths in New Zealand but could not take part due to the magnitude of costs issue. Laurence kept racing around North America and participated in the only World Cup event on the continent, the Rolex Miami OCR's. Even so, she always encountered a little issue. The best girls in the world were often taller and heavier which decreased a lot Laurence's chance to perform at international level in heavy winds.

After racing Laser Radials for four good years, Laurence decided last year to take her chance and enter the world of RS:X competition.  Dominique Vallee and Alain Bolduc had been encouraging her to switch to windsurfing for a while already. Admittedly, being 21 years old, and considering the energy and effort she had invested to reach an interesting level in Radial, it was not an easy decision to make.

Over the summer of 2010, Laurence started her training in Trois-Rivieres (Qc) and in Montreal (Qc) with the 9.5m male athletes from Quebec. During fall and winter, she has managed to spend some time on the Cocoa Beach (FL) waters with Dominique and a few girls from the American national team. Her schedule was very crowded, to say the least. She was finishing her Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology as well as working two jobs in Montreal: one as a Leadership and team performance coach for Esprit de Corps Inc., and a second as a personal trainer at PerfMax. Now that she's done with her studies, Laurence is travelling around North America and Europe to train and compete in the World Cup events after only a few months on the board.

Laurence prefers RS:X racing to Radial for its physical aspect, for the speeds that you can reach and for the people from the windsurfing community that you meet. Windsurfing is not easy and it comes at an heavy price, but it most certainly is a complete and fulfilling sport. Laurence says she's ready for it: "This is the beginning of a long journey with many marks to round and many finish lines to cross along its way."

Outside of windsurfing and sailing, you will always find Laurence in the sea surfing or on the mountain skiing or hiking. But, her mind is set for one goal, the 2016 Olympics.

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