For a long time it looked like todays' sailing wasn't going to happen on Day 7 of the 2011 Optimist World Championships, being staged at Napier on the East Coast of New Zealand.
A passing tropical low pressure zone kicked up a big swell. Further up the coast the stricken container ship, MV Rena broke up three months after grounding on Astrolabe Reef. . There was wind, there was rain, there was fog and therefore poor visibility.
'I have 210 kids to look after' said Gerard Martin, Principle Race Officer. 'And their safety is my primary responsibility. I do not want to lose sight of one of them. It is now 1330, and there is a lot of pressure on me to go ahead with the race' Mr Martin continued.
The surprise visit from Dean Barker, OptiworldsNZ Patron shortened the wait. Many kids took the opportunity to get their picture taken or get his autograph on their life jacket.
It wasn't until 1350 that the Delta Flag went up, and the young sailors got on the water as quickly as they could. The wind was 18 knots, it was still raining, and the swells were 2 meters high, but they didn't care: the race was back on.
Emil Jarrud from Sweden only had one thing on his mind: to continue his winning streak. He won both races yesterday and was giving it his all, but an unfortunate swell cost him his luck.
The wind started at 19 knots, but eased back to around 14 and even though the wind was stronger than previous days, the lighter sailors did really well. Ryan Lo finished first in Race 9, together with Francisco Ducasse who also won the second race. The third race was won by yesterday’s leader Bart Lambriex, but Kimberly Lim’s overall scores meant she took over the leadership position, leaving Bart in second place. The difference between Lim and Lambriex is only three points, and a lot can happen tomorrow.
Tomorrow is the last day of this world championship, and the weather forecast is fine with north-easterly winds, between 11 and 19 knots.
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: 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.org.nz, over 8,000 unique visitors per day The Facebook page: 1,441 likes http://www.facebook.com/optiworldsnz2011