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USA's Gil Hackel leads 2021 Opti Worlds

by Talbot Wilson 7 Jul 12:14 PDT 30 June - 10 July 2021
USA's Gil Hackel leads the 2021 Optimist World Championship after day 4 © Matias Capizzano /

Gil Hackel (Gulf Breeze, Fl) has climbed into first place in the International Optimist Dinghy World Championship with a first and a second-place finish on Wednesday. His score line - 2-2-2-(9)-4-1-2 - reflects the total consistency of his sailing.

Gil, now 13, started his young career at the age of five sailing at Pensacola YC and has sailed many regattas representing the internationally competitive Lauderdale YC team.

With the solid 1-2 finishes Wednesday, Gil jumped from fourth into first place and leads Weka Bhanubandh of Thailand by eight points 13 to 21 after each has dropped their worst score. Following in third is Alex di Francesco Kuhl of Brazil with 26 net points. The schedule continues with racing Thursday and Friday if conditions allow. So far two races a day have been sailed except for one day when only one was raced because of bad weather.

All five of the USA sailors in the competition, who spent weeks training out of Pensacola this spring qualified to sail in the Gold/Championship Fleet. Follow the results and individual race tracking on

According to the Notice of Race: "12 races are scheduled with a maximum of three races per day. One extra race per day may be sailed." The committee could make up the lost race by sailing three races one day and two the next.

Pensacola YC Sailing Director Cesar Travado, from Spain, is familiar with the sailing conditions on Lake Garda. He thinks they won't be able to get in more than two races a day. He noted, "The typical lake wind (from the South) is not filling in until 2-3 PM, later than previous days. To make three races the committee would have to start racing at 1PM but there is no wind or a light northerly, maybe. I do not see that as an option."

However, the Race Committee made an official announcement at 7pm in Italy... "It is the intention of the Race Committee for Thursday, July 8 to run three races for each fleet."

There are four fleets, the Gold/Championship fleet and three more. That's a total pf eight starts and races per flight and probably not enough time after the wind fills in for an extra set of starts. We'll see. It is an option that leaves the door open to complete the full schedule of 12 races.

Gil's parents, Melissa and Dr. Josh Hackel, are there to watch but not with their son. The team has been sequestered by their coach to keep them focused. Melissa Hackel commented, "Very nervous..." After reviewing the race tracker that shows where each boat sails, she added, "Lordy, hard to watch."

All updates on the racing are being published on the Optimist World Championship 2021 website at

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