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2018 Optimist U.S. Nationals - Measurement and check-in leading to Sunday racing

by Troy Gilbert 14 Jul 2018 01:08 PDT 15-18 July 2018
The team from the NYYC US America's Cup Challenger `American Magic` will Keynote with an American Magic Challenge update presentation. © Troy Gilbert

The first sailors made their way into Pensacola Bay on Spanish galleons in 1559 and now, for the next ten days, the newest generation of future world class sailors will etch their names to that long history on the water competing in the USODA Optimist Nationals, the Girls Optimist National Championship and the Optimist Team Race National Championship.

Founded in 1908 and one of the premier yacht clubs in the Gulf Yachting Association and the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs, the sprawling oak lined grounds of the Pensacola Yacht Club are teeming with the energy and excitement of 300 young sailors and their support teams, parents and coaches as the first day of measurements and check-ins got underway.

With sailors hailing from Canada, Great Britain, Denmark, Brazil, the U.A.E., Australia, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S.A., there's an international air and World Cup spirit already at play as the afternoon breeze freshens from the waters of the bay and Gulf of Mexico. And it's only Friday. Racing starts Sunday.

With Pensacola Yacht Club's 36 summer camp sailors on the water training to eventually join the Green Fleet as the backdrop, business comes first and amidst the race 'village' Beth Danilek, Chair of the Class Technical Committee and Class Measurer for USODA, along with many other class officials and a small army of club volunteers and staff swiftly processed nearly half of the registered participants.

In a brief moment of downtime, Danilek states, "We still have quite a few boats to measure, as with most events, we get a big rush in the morning and the afternoon because the kids are itching to rig their boats and get out on the water, but things are going really well and they're always so polite. They make it a real pleasure to do this."

With another full day of measurements tomorrow followed by an evening parade through Pensacola's historic downtown and then a gala with a presentation by the U.S. Challenger for the 36thAmerica's Cup, American Magic, the action is only starting to get rolling.

Fully vested with southern hospitality and with so many wheels in motion, it's easy to forget how much time and effort goes into making monster regatta events run without a hitch, but Pensacola Yacht Club helmed by Commodore James J. Reeves and 2018 Regatta Chairman Tom Pace, Jr. are making it look easy.

Even attempting to take a quiet moment and re-hydrate, Pace's cellphone buzzes constantly with calls from the harbor master organizing support boats to the registration desk requesting information, but it's obvious he's having a blast. He states, "I actually feel a bit like father goose. We've been working on hosting this since last fall and it's not simply meetings and phone calls, we've had huge support from our membership and it got to be contagious as the excitement and pride from hosting this event grew."

The real action starts on Sunday and Chairman Pace has this one message for all the young sailors ready to hit the blue waters of Pensacola Bay, "Sail Hard. Sail smart. Don't quit!"

To follow the event action Download the US Sailing Events App available for free download to your smart devices. The 2018 Optimist Nationals in Pensacola is a featured event. Getting App'd up is simple... Open the App Store, search for US Sailing Events, touch "GET" and install.

From there you can select Your Events... Optimist... and you are set to go. This site is a content aggregator so you will have access from this one site to the event website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. Video and photo links will be posted and daily results and final standings will be at the fingertips of spectators anywhere as well.

Mike Waters, Chief Technology Officer for US Sailing says, "Make the most of your experience at the 2018 Optimist National Championships and download the customized event app provided by US Sailing. The app offers spectators, sailors and race organizers a stream for specific communications about the event, including start changes, venue changes, postponements, and protest locations. Important information from the official Notice Board will be posted to the app for better accessibility and knowledge share."

"The app also features real-time scoring updates and standings." Mike points out. "We want sailors and friends of sailors and sailing to join the conversation and track social media posts about the event. Using the app is a one-stop-shop for all the buzz at Pensacola's 2018 Optimist Nationals."

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