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US Optimist Dinghy Association Southeast Championship this weekend

'Ian Moran 18578 of Edgewater Yacht Club Rocky River, OH gets the pin end start in a practice race on Friday before the USODA Southeast Championship in Pensacola FL. Racing starts Saturday morning and concludes Sunday afternoon.'    ©Talbot Wilson

Will practice make perfect for young Opti sailors in Pensacola, Florida this weekend? Time will tell. The young sailor who sails consistently fast throughout this 2-day regatta will win the US Optimist Dinghy Association Southeast Championship. The top 25% will qualify for the USODA national team trials.

Scores of boats were out on Pensacola Bay Friday afternoon hoping to find the advantage, getting used to the wind and waves at this near perfect venue for championship dinghy sailing. Tom Coleman held clinics for the Green Fleet getting these novice sailors ready for their own competition on a more relaxed level.

The championship fleet of 106 boats will sail in four divisions selected by random computer choice. 53 boats will be on the line at a time. All the sailors will compete against each other in different sets and the low score wins the championship. Ties can happen and they are broken by the system outlined in the racing Rules of Sailing.

The Championship Optis will sail a course that includes a weather leg, a short reach, a downwind leg, an upwind leg and another short reach to the finish line. The race committee plans to get in as many races as possible on Saturday and then see what happens on Sunday. The 31 Green Fleet entries will sail windward-leeward or triangle courses in the close-to-shore waters just off Sanders Beach closer to Pensacola Yacht Club. Wit a front expected Saturday night weather may be a factor.

Pensacola Yacht Club (PYC) event Chairman Alan McMillan was excited with the turnout. 'It is incredibly exciting to bring the USODA Southeast Championship to Pensacola Bay. This is the largest USODA Southeast Championship ever and we are proud to host it at PYC. We have a skilled Race Committee and about 50 volunteers and club staff, too. Pensacola Bay is the best venue possible for sailboat racing of any type and we hope to host the USODA Nationals here in 2016. We have had fantastic support from local government, the tourism board and the Pensacola Sports Association. Our success has been a community effort.'

Friday morning 25 sailors took a hands-on tour of the National Flight Academy at Pensacola Naval Air Station. This was an added value for these youngsters to get to experience an Ambition mission and handle their own operation and fly a flight simulator.

Now it is time to go sailing.

137 entries from 12 states— Green Fleet continues to register until Saturday morning.

White Fleet (29), Blue Fleet (45), Red Fleet (32), Green Fleet (31)

37 girls
100 boys

Osterville, MA is furtherest.
Madison NJ is next
One international entry from Grand Cayman

79 from Florida
10 from LA
9 from GA
9 from TX
7 from SC
6 from TN
5 from MS
4 from NC
2 from AR
2 from AL
1 from NJ
1 from MA
1 from CAY

Representing 36 sailing/yacht clubs

by Talbot Wilson


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1:37 AM Sat 21 Sep 2013GMT

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