Three cannon shots and the lowering of the American flag signalled the end of the opening ceremonies and the official start of the 2008 Star Worlds at Coral Reef Yacht Club today.
Children, ranging in age from eight to 15 and all members of the Coral Reef Youth Sailing Team, carried in the flags of the 31 nations competing in this annual championship event with team members and coaches following closely behind. Individual country anthems played as each of the teams marched into the grassed area facing Biscayne Bay.
The City of Miami presented a Mayoral Proclamation, followed by welcomes from Rich Raymond, POR, Commodore Brian Fink, International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Vice President George Andreadis, and Sir Durwood Knowles of the Bahamas a Star Class Olympic Gold medal winner and Commodore of the Star Class for the last 25 years.
'This is the proudest moment of my life,' he told the crowd of more than 400 gathered at the Opening Ceremonies. 'The Star Class is the greatest yachting class in the world. It is where most America's Cup winners have started and it has great traditions.'
Sir Knowles, who is 90 years old and has spent 70 of those years competing in the Star Class, asked the 204 competitors to work at keeping the traditions and the camaraderie of the Star Class. He explained that it was very hard 'to give up the tiller, but when the 15-year-old John MacCausland (little Mac) beat me at the Bacardi Cup a while back, I knew it was time.'
The first race of the Star Worlds begins on Friday at 11:55 a.m. Follow the action at www.starworlds2008.com and www.starclass.org