Inaugural Macau International Dinghy Regatta this weekend

Macau Sailing Academy was created two years ago by Eric Crowter, Denis Bordais and Jon Galbraith (left to right) and is currently teaching 60 youngsters
Macau Daily Times
Hac Sá bay will this weekend host the Macau International Dinghy Regatta, which brings together 56 local and Hong Kong youngsters. According to Jon Galbraith, director of event organisers Macau Yacht Sailing Academy, it will be “the biggest regatta ever and the first of its kind” to take place in the territory.

The races start at 10 am this morning with 28 dinghies going out on the water. The boats are evenly split into two divisions, the Topper Topaz and the Laser Pico. “They are very similar, with three meters in length and 1.5 meters in width,” Galbraith said. Both types of dinghies are made of plastic and are “very light and almost unsinkable”, said another director of the Academy, Eric Crowter.
Each boat will be manned by two of the 20 local and 36 Hong Kong young sailors. Between every race there will a draw to distribute the dinghies, in order to “keep the odds as fair as possible for everyone,” Jon Galbraith explained. The competition is open to sailors up to 18 years old, but most are between 12 and 15 and the youngest is just nine years old, he added.

All of the six races will take place entirely inside Hac Sá bay to lessen the risks. In any case, there will be four safety boats watching the youngsters, two coming from Hong Kong, one from the Macau Sailing Association and another belonging to the Academy.
The distance and disposition of the courses created for the six races will depend on the wind, Galbraith says. “If there is more wind we will make the course longer. More than the distance, the importance is to keep each race within 30-40 minutes,” the third director of the academy, Denis Bordais explains.

After all six races, the winners of each division will be the team with the fewest points. Each duo will be able to discount their race with the worst result. Tomorrow afternoon a small award ceremony will take place, with trophies and medals reserved for the four best teams in both divisions.

The experience will be invaluable to the Academy youngsters, Eric Crowter believes. “It will be a proper race under official rules, with a lot more boats than the usual in training,” he said. The local sailors “will be pushed all the way,” Jon Galbraith added, “because the Hong Kong kids are much more competitive, they have been training for much longer.”

However, it won’t be all about competition, Eric Crowter emphasizes. Around 200 people, including the youngsters’ parents, are expected in Hac Sá to watch the races from the Miramar restaurant and the Westin Resort hotel. Around 10 camping tents are waiting for the sailors and tonight the kids will play live music and hold a barbecue for all regatta participants.
McConaghy, a company that builds sail boats in Zhuhai, will also set up a live demonstration of its Mac-2 high performance dinghy. “It looks like an aeroplane and on water it can reach 50 kilometres per hour,” Crowter says.

The idea for the regatta started six months ago, Galbraith explained, when the Academy bought 18 dinghies from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. “The Hong Kong clubs wanted to do a weekend event with all the parents here in Macau,” he said. At first it was going to be a smaller event, with less than 20 youngsters, but the interest grew.
Luckily, Galbraith explained, “Everyone who cares about the kids was willing to come and help.”

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