With just ten days till the start of the 31st Garda Optimist Meeting, attention is being turned to the possibility of setting a new record. Last year's record was certified as a Guinness World Record with 1055 participants and as of today a total of 1175have pre-registered, 892 juniors (12-14 years), and 283 cadets (9-11 years). The official number of confirmations will only be known on the first day of racing.... the 28th March! In the ten days leading up to the event there will be a constant parade of vehicles arriving with vans, rubber dinghies and Optimists with their helmsmen.
It will be interesting to see, right from the start of the regatta, if Turkey is able to pull off yet another overall first place on the podium in the junior class as it has done in the last three years. Whatever the case, it will be a great opportunity to try out the regatta course that will be used in the World Optimist Championships scheduled from 15th- 26th July at Riva del Garda.
Olympian Alessandra Sensini has confirmed that she will attend the event and as well as being a newly-elected member of the national council of CONI, will open the event on Wednesday, 27th March in the centre of Riva del Garda. The opening ceremony will start with the customary procession of the participants starting from the club-house and finishing at Riva's town-hall where a stage will be set up (weather permitting), otherwise proceedings will be moved to the Palacongressi.
This year Easter week will be characterised by a series of sailing events going on at the same time as the Garda Meeting, thus creating the new event The First World Championship Week of Juvenile Sailing combining the other regattas with their respective juvenile classes and organised by the nearby sailing clubs of Upper Garda. Under the aegis of the new association, Vela Garda Trentino, the World Championship Week of Juvenile Sailing has the objective of creating an event which has a wide media impact with tourist implications that will be economically important to the area. Events kick off with the Lasers at Fraglia Vela Malcesine from 14th -17th March.
The weekend before Easter (23rd -24th March), Torbole Sailing Club and Arco Sailing Club will host the Europa and 29er classes respectively while the following week (28th - 31st March), will see the Techno 293 windsurfing in action at Torbole Surf Club and the multitude of Optimists in competition for The 31st Garda Optimist Meeting organised by Fraglia Vela Riva. Fraglia starts off its 85th anniversary with youth and great numbers....just as it's always done!
Some recollections from past winners of the Garda Optimist Meeting:
Davide Bianchini (winner in 2007) - 'Winning the regatta in 2007 was an enormous thrill for me. I remember that with one leg left to race on the Sunday, I had already won the event mathematically on the Saturday. That year the World, European and Italian champions were competing and beating all of them made the victory even sweeter! Racing together with over 800 boats was fantastic. This regatta is one-of-a-kind in the world and I'll never forget it! The emotion I felt at the award ceremony was overwhelming. Just unforgettable!'
Martino Tortarolo (winner in 2005) - Martino is a source of pride for Optimists everywhere since only a few weeks ago he tried out in the Italian challenge for the Young America's Cup on the acrobatic catamaran. Here's how he remembers the Garda Optimist Meeting. 'Winning the Garda Optimist Meeting was one of the most unique experiences I've ever had it being the regatta with the largest number of boats in the world....The party atmosphere is everywhere and the lake is full of little white sails which altogether create an enormous white wall......I wish everyone could take part in this regatta at least once because it's a truly amazing experience....'
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