The Chase Bank sponsored 8th Optimist African Championship, held at Mnarani Club, Kilifi, Kenya is the largest to date.
A total of 69 sailors are participating, including 62 from 12 African countries. While local sailors may use their own boats 60 charter boats are being provided by Zou Marine and it is expected that these will be sold on to enlarge African fleets in several countries.
Mozambique, who are of course hosts to next year’s All Africa Games, are the only first-time entry but Egypt, Seychelles and Reunion (FRA) have swelled the fleet after absence last year.
The Opening ceremony was a wonderful occasion with participants arriving on a traditional dhou. It was the social event of the year in Kilifi and there were many Kilifi residents in attendance. There was a parade of the 18 nations behind a Kenyan drummer and a flag raising ceremony. This was followed by the traditional Africans mixing of the waters ceremony on the beach.
The first day of racing 2 August, was excellent and 3 good races were completed. The winds increased throughout the day from 7 to 8 knots in the first race to 10 to 13 knots in the last race. The starts were competitive with a number of OCS’s being recorded. It was wonderful to see the largest fleet of Optimists at an African Championship, racing in such beautiful surroundings.
Algeria has taken the individual championship as well as the girls’ gold for the last two years but there were six nations in the top ten last year so some close racing is expected.
Each morning there is a rule 42 talk from Zofia Truchanowicz, ISAF Rule 42 Advisor, who will be working with coaches, sailors and race officials throughout the Championship as part of ISAF’s ongoing education program.
There are three races planned most days with the Optimist Team Racing African Championship scheduled for 4 August. This will begin with a short clinic for the competitors given by Chris Atkins, the Chief Umpire for the team racing.