Boca Chica, Dominican Republic (sail-world.com).- The Caribbean country plays host to the 50th anniversary of the Optimist World Championships where the top 240 sailors from 52 countries compete in the largest fleet race in the world.
On Monday evening (16th July) the sailors and coaches gathered for the opening ceremony where each country paraded into the arena displaying national emblems and team colors, led by the Dominican Republic Navy band. Short speeches from illustrious figures in the local and sailing world were followed by colorful and typically exuberant Latin dancers to kick off this regatta which spans six days of fleet racing with twelve races and controversially this year, only a single drop. Two days of teams racing will punctuate the fleet racing on Saturday-Sunday 21st-22nd July.
Race 1 start - Optimist World Championships - John Adair Click Here to view large photo
Initially all sailors were arbitrarily split into four flights (Yellow, Red, Green, Blue) of sixty sailors with each flight racing alone rather than against another flight, again a departure from the typical format.
Following their success at the recent New Zealand Nationals, five sailors have been selected by NZIODA to represent New Zealand at the Optimist World Championships: Leonard Takahashi-Fry, Tim Adair, Isaac McHardie, William McKenzie and Cameron Moss.
On the first day’s racing, the wind settled into a consistent south-easterly onshore breeze of about 8-10 knots, with lots of chop and swell. In the first flight race 1, the main bunch was drawn well over the line with at least thirty seconds until the start signal, consequently the majority of the fleet were over at the start but surprisingly there was no general recall. The results later revealed only a couple of OCS so it seems many were lucky not to be identified and ruin their card. This was punishing for the lone Kiwi sailor who did return to re-start the race.
William McKenzie was the New Zealand highlight of the first day with a second placing in his first race, finishing in 19th place after two races. Singapore leads the regatta with sailors in first and second place, followed by Netherlands in third.
Day 2 promised 5-8 knots of wind which failed to deliver. An earlier than expected tropical storm swept through just before Race 3 was due to start, bringing thunder, lightning and torrential rain. After many hours on the water the race committee decided to cancel racing for the day.
Day 3 of racing continues tomorrow.