Optimist racing, Sir Peter Blake Regatta 2011, Day 1
New Zealand is seriously preparing for 50 countries and around 220 young sailors to come to Napier, on the east coast of New Zealand, to compete for the title of new World Champion in the Optimist Sailing.
In true Kiwi-style, over 160 volunteers from around the country have put their hand up to provide assistance during the World Championships in December and January.
Sailors will be arriving in Napier from 15 December onwards, and many local nationalities will greet and welcome their former home country, which gives it a very warm touch.
And that is exactly what the organisers want to achieve. 'Previously these events have been run at Five Star resorts, or other flash locations. We felt that the focus was out of balance' says Pete Dawson, the Chairman for the OptiWorlds. 'We want to show the IODA and the world that New Zealand has the right mix: good facilities, friendly hosts and excellent sailing conditions!'
This event is also good for New Zealand: after the Worlds, all coach boats, which are newly built, go to local sailing clubs to be used by the next generation of champions.
Preparations are in full swing for the Christmas Celebrations for 200 people, in Kiwi style out at Eskdale. 'We expect the sailors to be very focused' says Nigel Rippey - Event Director. 'We will offer them a Kiwi Christmas Lunch and then they can go back to training again. All very low key'.
'The team racing, on 4 and 5 January, will take place very close to the beach. The public will be able to see all the action, real time' says Mr Dawson. 'But just in case you can't be in Napier, log on to the website and follow all the racing real time. Each boat will be equipped with a GPS tracker'.
Within the OptiWorlds, there will be another World Championship. 'The sailing club has prepared a soccer field. Most countries are very into their soccer, we expect the Kiwi's to get a hiding on the land' says Mr Rippey. 'But as long as we do well on the water....'
The public is invited to come down to the Sound Shell in Napier for the Official Opening Ceremony on 31 December 5pm. 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 50 nationalities.
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 220 sailors aged between 11 and 15 years
The countries: teams from 50 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