Competitors gather, Day 1 Harken Invitational Regatta, Napier, New Zealand
A last minute rush saw organisors working until the early hours to process all the late registrations for today and tomorrow's Harken Invitational Regatta for Optimist sailors.
'We were looking at 160 registrations yesterday, but all of a sudden we are up to 204 sailors' according to Nigel Rippey, Event Director. New Zealand is represented by 65 sailors, the other 139 are from 32 other nationalities.
Many of the competitors were looking at who else was registering, before they entered themselves. The Harken Invitational Regatta is seen as the big test before the world championship starting on January 1st 2012. The organisation is thrilled with the outcome.
With only five teams left to arrive, most of the 48 countries have their top five sailors in Napier, keen to start the World Championships on January 1st. Most teams went out today to get familiar with the local sailing conditions.
The wind conditions are ideal for the older and heavier sailors. The wind is expected to increase to 15 - 20 knots today with good swells to provide visitors with a good test of the local sailing conditions. This will particularly suit some of the older and heavier sailors.
There is an spectator boat going out close to the racing, but for those that are not so keen on being out on the water, there is live streaming at the Napier Sailing Club, and people can watch it for free. There is even a blog on www.optiworldsnz.org.nz providing a commentary of the sailing each day during the racing.
'The World Championship has been great for the Napier Sailing Club' says Marty Weeks, Commodore of the Napier Sailing Club. 'We have tranformed the club into a real 'international village' with the help from a team of volunteers and passionate sailors who have upgraded a lot of our facilities, and providing kiwi hospitality throughout the regatta' Mr Weeks says.
Apart from the racing, there are many other activities organised for the public. Yachting New Zealand has provided a number of Optimist Dinghies and the public is invited to have a go themselves. A ride in the Waka is a must for a real New Zealand experience, and there will also be a Farmers Market on Monday morning 2nd January.
The public is invited to come down to the Sound Shell in Napier for the Official Opening Ceremony on 31 December 5pm. People can watch the racing on the beach on Hardinge Road, or come down to the Fan Zone at the Napier Sailing Club for replays of the races and mixing with the 48 nationalities taking part.
Opti Worlds Vital Stats:
30 December 2011 - 10 January 2012
The boat: a safe and simple dinghy that is one of the world's most popular designs
The racing: 9 days of Championship racing
The competitors: around 210 sailors aged between 11 and 15 years
The countries: teams from 48 nations including reigning Champs Thailand
The host club: Napier Sailing Club, Napier, New Zealand
Famous sailors that have started out in Optis include: Ben Ainslie
The big sponsors: Vodafone, New Zealand Major Events, Hawke's Bay Tourism, SPARC, City of Napier, Air New Zealand, the Radio Network, EuroCity Napier, Victoria Cruising Club, Lion Foundation
The technology: GPS tracking and live video coverage online - real time
The website: www.optiworldsnz.com
The Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/optiworldsnz2011