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2017 Optimist Asian & Oceanian Champs kicks off

by RHKYC Media / Nick Atkinson on 2 Oct 2017
IODA Asian & Oceanian Champs 2017 Guy Nowell / Optimist Asian & Oceanian Champs
The 2017 Optimist Asian & Oceanian Championship opened last night at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in conjunction with Hong Kong’s National Day celebrations. Sailors, coaches and their families were entertained by a traditional Hong Kong lion dance and a flag parade from all the regatta participants. And then there was one of those fireworks displays that only Hong Kong can lay on – ok so the occasion was China’s National Day, but HKODA has raised the bar on Oppie events by opening a regional regatta with a HK$50m backdrop of fireworks! The Opening Ceremony fired off with a flag parade led by pipers as 132 sailors from 16 countries descended on the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, with Team New Zealand performing a haka and Team Sri Lanka drumming for the crowd.

Fast forward, and today sailors made their way to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's Middle Island Clubhouse for day 1 of racing. Hong Kong brought out blue skies and 5-10 knots of breeze. There were three qualifying races with the fleet split into Yellow and Blue, on a race track positioned to the south of Stanley Bay; a classic Optimist Worlds course – beat, reach, run, beat to finish.

An easterly course was set for R1, with 5-10kts reported across the track. The Yellow fleet set off with only one OCS. First place went to China's Dingjie Shen CHN111, followed by Jinhuan Yu CHN 11, and third place going to Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s Lumiere Ng - HKG313.

Blue fleet scored a general recall on the first start, but the second start was clean after the black flag had got an airing. Hong Kong’s Duncan Gregor HKG205 took first place in R1 - Gregor placed ninth in the recent 2017 Optimist Worlds in Thailand. He was followed by Thailand’s Intira Panpiboon THA 945 and Patcharee Sringm THA 112.

For the second race, the breeze piped up to 8-10kts – there were two general recalls for the Yellow fleet, with 8+ boats being black flagged. In the end, R2 went to Colman Schofield USA 20956, second Demir Dirik TUR 151 and Jedtavee Yongyuennarn THA 168 in third. The blue fleet had a similar changing of the guard, with NZL’s Jordan Dakins finishing in pole position and Japan’s Koki Yasunaga coming second with Sabri Kerem Erkmen from Turkey in third.

The breeze dropped to 6 to 8kts for R3, and became substantially shifty; however, both fleets got away cleanly. The fleet took a little longer to get to the first mark, but once around the mark the wind increased.

This was a substantially better-behaved fleet, with both starts getting away with a cheerful “All Clear” from the Committee Boat. In the softening breeze only one familiar face made the podium in either fleet. China’s Dingjie Shen managed a impressive second place in the Yellow group, leaving him in first place Overall after day one. India saw their first place in the top three, with Harshita Tomar finishing first in the yellow group and Panwa Boonnak (THA), recent winner of the Optimist Thailand Nationals, in third.

Principal Race Officer Ilker Bayindir summed up the day's conditions. 'Today’s wind conditions were not so promising at first; it was all the time shifting, shifting, shifting, but the main direction was 090 degrees. Three races for Yellow and Blue fleets were completed with great success, with only one protest attempt. Everyone was happy on account of the conditions, and especially because of the performance of the Race Committee, who all day long changed the positions of the marks. All the time the sailors had to adjust to the tidal conditions pushing them parallel to the starting and finishing lines but the conditions were still great.'

Hong Kong Race Officer Charlie Manzoni commented on the upcoming conditions: 'The forecast is to weaken a little bit tomorrow and then to pick up again on Wednesday. One of the forecasts I have seen for Wednesday shows about 20kts. It should be an awesome event and I hope everyone enjoys it.'

Racing for the individual championship tomorrow from the RHKYC Middle Island base, with Team Racing for national teams slated for Wednesday.

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