by Elena Giolai
The 2013 World Optimist Championship is scheduled to take place from 15th-26th July. The future of sailing will be on display at Riva del Garda which this year celebrates its 85th anniversary.
Once again the Optimist takes centre stage at Fraglia Vela Riva with the ultimate Championship in its class, after having achieved a Guinness world record at the Garda Optimist Meeting as the largest regatta of a single class in the world ( this year the number of participants reached almost 1200). In just under a week the World Optimist Championships will get under way with the Pre- Worlds scheduled for the 12th and 13th July. Almost 300 qualifying helmsmen from all over the planet will compete from the 15th - 26th July for a title that is very often found in the racing curricula of the most esteemed helmsmen and skippers in the world.
A record number of 59 nations are expected with delegations from Brazil, Singapore, USA, Sweden, Russia, Ukraina, Argentina, Chile, Perù, Olanda, Hong Kong and New Zealand having already arrived at Riva del Garda, while Angola and China are still dealing with bureaucratic procedures for their visas which hopefully will arrive in time. Italy has lined up a team after a long selection process which lasted for 21 trials and will no doubt make an impression. Eyes will be on countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, India and Israel. They have been making giant steps forward in their technical level and results achieved over the past few years. Dmitri Peperoni (Fraglia Vela Malcesine), local boy Davide Duchi (Fraglia Vela Riva), with team-mate Alberto Tezza (Fraglia Vela Riva), Umberto José Varbaro (Lega Navale Follonica) and Andrea Totis (Lega Navale Mandello del Lario) will all be on the course with coach Marcello Meringolo to give it their best shot and aim high.
It will definitely be a long and difficult championship, but also a passionate one since a lot will depend on the weather and wind which with the high pressure should blow quite strongly. At Riva del Garda they are putting the final details in place to welcome the young sailors from all over the world along with their coaches, team leaders and official chaperones. It will be – as is in the case of the Easter Meeting – first and foremost a grand festival, played at the highest technical level. The opening ceremony will take place on the 16th July in the presence of Olympian Alessandra Sensini, with the first races being held the following day. The individual regattas will be followed by the team regattas on Saturday and Sunday the 20th and 21st July. After a rest day the decisive races of the World Championships will be held on the 23rd and 24th concluding on the 25th July with the award ceremony.
Our club, founded in 1928, celebrates its 85th anniversary this year and never like today has this championship rekindled the spirit of 85 years ago when the association was born precisely for the purpose of bringing together enthusiasts of sailing from all over the world to appreciate and become acquainted with Lake Garda.
Undoubtedly the beauty of the place, the good fortune of having southerly winds, such as the Ora and the wind from the north, the skill and professionalism of those at Fraglia Vela Riva all contribute in creating regatta courses and tracks which are highly specialized and competitive. 31 years of the Garda Optimist Meeting have given us valuable experience in organizing large events. The last two years the Optimist Meeting recorded such a high number of participants that it was officially registered as a Guinness World Record as the largest single-class regatta in the world.
I extend a very warm welcome to all the teams, competitors and their entourages, regatta judges, calibrators, guests and the authorities who will be present during the course of the event.
I would particularly like to thank all the sponsors who have allowed us to produce such an important world championship and The Autonomous Province of Trento who has always given support to those who endeavour to produce such events.
Greetings and thanks also to our host town, Riva del Garda which regards Fraglia Vela Riva as a vital presence in the area. Thank you to everyone for this experience and I hope that it remains for many years to come an experience to repeat. In the days leading up to the championships there is still so much work to be done and already many teams have arrived for training. The official opening ceremony is on 16th July and will be graced with the presence of Olympian and vice-director of the Italian Sailing Federation, Alessandra Sensini a wonderful sporting role model in every sense. We look forward to seeing everyone for the World Optimist Championships from the 15th -26th July!'
A run-down of the World Championships.......
The 2013 World Optimist Championships is the the 51st in its history. The first was held in England in 1962 and was won by Anders Quiding of Sweden.
The two previous editions (2012 and 2011), were held in New Zealand and The Dominican Republic. Argentina will host the event in 2014.
In 2008 the European Optimist Championships were held at Fraglia Vela Riva
Italy hosted the World Optimist Championships in 2007, 1994 and in 1982.
Singapore was the first team to pre-register for the World Championships at Riva del Garda back in January followed by Bahrain.
Italy has reached the podium at the World Championships in the individuals on the following occasions: Maria Vittoria Marchesini, women's bronze medal in 2012, Jaro Furlani, bronze medal in Spain 2000, Mattia Pressich, gold medals in 1998 and 1999, Luca Bursic gold medal in 1997, Ivan Bertaglia bronze medal in 1996, bronze medal and first female Claudia Tosi in 1992 and 1993, Ugo Vanello, gold medal in 1998, Gaia Lusini women's gold in 1991 and Sabrina Landi first female and outright gold medallist in1987. In the team Championships, Team Italy won the silver in Uruguay in 2004 and the gold in Argentina in 1993.
In the last World Optimist Championships, the athletes from Singapore took a clean sweep of the medals:
1st: Yukie Yokoyama
3rd: Jessica Goh
Full results here
Boys and girls will start together in the single regattas, the standard at this age is very similar and very often the girls reach the top positions. There will, however, be two separate placings for boys and girls.