Oppie Worlds 2021 – The Journey

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Gallery (Photo credits Matias Capizzano / Zerogradinord)

Opening Ceremony (Photo credits Matias Capizzano)


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Final Results


Racing Day 6 – Friday 9th July 2021

GOLD FLEET – Nicola (Down 3 places 38th)
SILVER FLEET – Sean (Down 7 places to 115th)
EMERALD FLEET – Elisa (Up 5 places to 217th) / Theo (Up 1 place to 258th)


Alex Kuhl BRA 4090. Optimist World Champion 2021

Racing Day 5 – Thursday 8th July 2021

GOLD FLEET – Nicola (Down 3 places to 35th)
SILVER FLEET – Sean (Up 13 places to 108th)
EMERALD FLEET – Elisa (Up 2 places to 222nd) / Theo (259th)

Latest News from Lake Garda ….
Following the excitement of the team racing it was back to fleet racing with the sailors competing in Gold, Silver, Bronze and Emerald fleets based on how they did in qualifying. Following her consistent top 20 results Nicola was comfortably in Gold fleet, Sean solidified his place in Silver fleet with his 9th place in the last qualifying race and Elisa and Theo were in Emerald.
Two races were sailed for each fleet in Wednesday. Starts were tough as always with the sailors fighting for every inch. The plan was to fight for first row starts near the favoured end of the line. Find a good lane after lane of clear air and sail on the lifted tack to the favoured side of the course. Easy on paper! Extremely difficult to execute in reality. There were bands of lifted breeze on both sides of the course and a relative header in the middle. Picking a side and committing was key.
Nicola quickly found out that there were no lemons in gold fleet and that it would tough whether you were front middle or back. She finished mid fleet in her first race in gold and an excellent 19th in the second.
Sean was a bit overeager in his first race in silver fleet and got a U-Flag and max points. In his second race he was reminded that while it is tempting to keep your head in the boat to ensure you are sailing fast in a tight groove, getting your head out of the boat, identifying wind shifts and clean lanes of air are what get you to and keep you at the top of the fleet. Unfortunately, he sailed on too many headers, in poor air at times and crossed the middle of the course too often. These are valuable lessons that are hard to learn training in small groups on the Southern tip of Africa. Sean finished a disappointing 49th. But as Jimmy Spithill said many times during the Americas Cup “If you are not winning, you are learning”.
Elisa and Theo both posted some better finishes in on the day. Elisa getting her first top 20 of the regatta with a 17th in the first race of the day and Theo a 40th in the second race of the day.
On Thursday the plan was to go for three races in each fleet. The start time was moved up a little and this gave the race organisers a chance to get a race in the morning breeze locally known as the Peler.
Nicola had a tough race as she seemed to be a little late getting up to the start line. She tried to escape on port but found too much starboard traffic. She sailed well to stay in touch with the fleet despite living in skinny lanes and being forced to the left side. In the end she lost a few places on the last beat and posted a disappointing 39. Being the smart sailor that she is, she will no doubt learn from this one.
Sean had his best start of the regatta and lead the fleet to the right. Unfortunately, the wind went a little left and there appeared to be a touch more pressure on the left. He did well to limit the damage and rounded the weather mark in 10th. Approaching the leeward gate he was up to 5th but lost a few positions making a late decision to go for the left gate (looking upwind) and rounding on the outside. The left was the correct side however Sean seemed reluctant to commit and put in too many tacks, crossed the middle and approached the finish on the starboard lay line. Had he committed to the left a top 10 was very doable, however he finished in 20th, a huge improvement from yesterday and a confidence boost going into the last day.
Elisa was sharp at times and finished in a creditable 31st while Theo struggled in the dying Peler and finished down the fleet.
There is a day to go in the regatta. The sailors will want to finish on a high note tomorrow. The race committee is asking for an early start and would like to get three races per fleet. After racing there will be a rush to hand back the charter boats and pack up, prize giving and then the greatest fun of all, trading! This is where the sailors swop their t-shirts, rash vests, caps and just about anything tradeable for those of their new friends from around the world. Great anticipation. (Copied without permission from the Royal Cape Yacht Club Facebook page)


All boats left the shore. 3 races is the goal for today. Big storm yesterday night. The girls and Mark took the Optimist bailers to drain the apartment, their balcony drain was clogged. Luigi slept unperturbed. Theo Luigi and Stefan did Covid test this morning for return trip. It was organized here at the club for all competitors that needed one, rather than all going to the lab individually.

Racing Day 4 – Wednesday 7th July 2021

The first day of the finals immediately brings an important change to the top of the standings, where now the name of the leader responds to that of the American Gil Hackel: with extremely solid results (1-2 today), the American sailor overcomes Weka Bhanubandh (17-11) who slips to second place: the Thai athlete had maintained control of the ranking since the qualifying stages. The Brazilian Alex Di Francesco Kuhl (12-12), third, continues to gravitate in the provisional podium area; the top-five is completed by the Ukrainian Danyl Mykhailichenko (4-29) and Alex Demurtas (24-1), winner of today’s second race and first among the Italians.
Race will resume tomorrow at 12pm.


IODA AGM. 51 countries attending. These things are known for dragging 8 or 9 hours. Fabrizio said 12 hours was the record in Thailand. After 5 re voting sessions 2023 worlds goes to Spain in Costa brava, south of Spain. Mediterranean. South Africa Africans bid accepted. We are on. It took 30 seconds as opposed to 30 minutes of Worlds voting.

GOLD FLEET – Nicola (Nicola gains 14 places)
SILVER FLEET – Sean (Sean loses 20 places)
EMERALD FLEET – Elisa (Elisa loses 5 places) / Theo (Theo maintains the same)


Team Racing – Monday 5th & Tuesday 6th July 2021

Italy – Team Racing Champions 2021

RSA – NED = NED (RSA are eliminated in Flight C)
Team Racing Final Results


Racing Day 3 – Sunday 4 July 2021


Day 3 at the Optimist World Championships in Riva del Garda done and dusted and that brings the qualifying series to a close.
Just one race for each fleet today as a summer rain storm rolled in.
Nicola bagged another top twenty to cement her place in the gold fleet for the rest of the regatta. Well done Nicola, the RSA sailing community are very proud of you.
Sean had his best race of the regatta finishing 9th. He had a colossal battle and very nearly got into the top 5. Sean is relishing the opportunity to up his game against the stiff competition. He didn’t do enough to join Nicola in gold fleet, but cemented a place in silver. Sean we are proud of you too, well done!
Elisa sailed best race of the regatta to getting a mid fleet result. She and Theo will be battling it out in the emerald fleet when fleet racing resumes on Wednesday.
South Africa has not qualified for the team racing championship for many years. The combined efforts of the team resulted in a country ranking of 41, comfortably inside the cut line of 48. With much banter on the Western Cape Optimist chat about Italian food today, perhaps its appropriate that RSA will be up against Hungary in their first race tomorrow.
This will be an exciting and monumental challenge for team RSA who have never sailed together in team racing. Some of the RSA team members have some team racing experience that they will need to draw on to cause an upset or two. Watch this space.
Chris Atkins delivered is hugely entertaining talk on team racing. If you have not had the privilege of seeing him live, look him up on Youtube and enjoy the show.
Good Luck team RSA and remember DONT LET GO
2021 Optimist World Championship
Riva del Garda, 30 June – 10 July 2021
© Zerogradinord


Weka Bhanubandh – leader after 5 races on 5 points.

Riva del Garda – A single regatta completed today in the third and final day of the qualification series valid for the Optimist World Championship, an event underway in Riva del Garda that on July 9th will crown the new World Champion of the most successful Class among young sailors.

The arrival of a storm allowed to complete one race today, however enough to close the qualifying phases and to take over the discard of the worst result, once again upsetting the balances of the ranking: in the standings, the only one constant responds to the name of the leader, Weka Bhanubanhd, a Thai athlete who gains access to the Gold Fleet in first position, with a scoreline of 5-1-1-1-2. Second place for the Brazilian Alex Di Francesco Kuhl, four points behind the leader; to enter the Gold fleet in third position is the Italian Alex Demurtas, who with the discard recovers important points and positions, qualifying for the finals also as first among the Italians. The American Gil Hackel and the Irish Rocco Wright complete the top five.

The girls’ ranking is led by Ewa Lwandowska from Poland, followed by Italian Lisa Vucetti and Ukraine Alina Shapovaolva.

The winners of today’s races were Quan Adriano Cardi (yellow fleet), Alex di Francesco Kuhl (blue fleet), Alex Demurtas (red fleet) and Maria Castillo (green fleet).

“The regatta is still long, we are satisfied with the results obtained by the Italian team so far with all the athletes being qualified for the finals in the Gold fleet: in the finals there are still many points at stake, we have to keep concentrated but the guys are proving to be up to the situation” commented the Italian team leader, Nicolas Antonelli.

Now that  qualifications have been completed, athletes will be engaged in two spectacular and exciting days of Team World Championship: the team race will start tomorrow morning and over forty national teams have already confirmed their participation.

The 2021 Optimist World Championship is hosted by Fraglia Vela Riva in collaboration with FIV, IODA, AICO, Riva del Garda Fierecongressi, North Lake Garda and Trentino.

All updates on the regattas are published on the Optimist World Championship 2021 social pagesand on the microsite at this link.

At the time we are sending this press release, there are currently some protests under discussion that may affect the ranking. All the results are to be considered provisional.

Team racing seminar with Chris Atkins. Tomorrow and Tuesday there will be no championship racing because Team Racing will take place. We still don’t know whether we qualified, but we thought it better to attend the seminar. Championship racing resumes for the final series on Wednesday. RSA in the team racing tomorrow, Hungary are first up, how ironic after today’s banter.
Me and Luigi working on some sandwich development project.
I transform the sandwiches supplied by the organizers. Into something less ‘cardboardy’. This is the result of an optimizations programme we ran with Theo and Luigi. After a few tests we selected the additional ingredients to make the lunch packs edible.

Opti Worlds 2021, Bhanubandh from Thailand leads the ranking

Riva del Garda – Second day of racing in Riva del Garda for the Optimist World Championship, event that recalled the best 260 sailors in the world, representing 58 nations, to the starting line set up by Fraglia Vela Riva. Once again, the pace of operations is dictated by a warm Ora wind from the south, well spread with peaks up to 15 knots.

The Race Committee, thanks also to the support of marks and jury boats geopositioned via electric engines, was able to masterfully manage today’s regattas, completing two races for each of the four fleets.

The ranking, after four races valid for qualifying purposes, is more open than ever and the subject of continuous and important upheavals: currently leading the ranking is the Thai Weka Bhanubandh, author of two victories in today’s regattas in the blue fleet. Behind him, the Brazilian Alex of Francesco Kuhl (today 5-2 in the green fleet) and the Lithuanian Erik Scheidt (winner of both races in the green fleet). Completing the top five are Gil Hackel (USA, 2-9 in the yellow fleet) and Kan Kachachuen (THA, 9-2 in the blue fleet).

The other winners of the regattas of the day were: Lomane Valade (FRA, winner of race 3 red fleet), Quan Adriano Cardi (ITA, winner of race 3 yellow fleet), Sviatoslav Madonich (UKR, winner of race 4 red fleet) and Alex Demurtas ( ITA, winner of race 4 yellow fleet).

The regattas will resume tomorrow at 1.00pm, for the third and final day of qualifying, which will be followed by two days of Team World Championship and then the final stages of the individual World Championship.

The 2021 Optimist World Championship is hosted by Fraglia Vela Riva in collaboration with FIV, IODA, AICO, Riva del Garda Fierecongressi, North Lake Garda and Trentino.

All updates on the regattas are published on the Optimist World Championship 2021 social pages and on the microsite at this link.

At the time we are sending this press release, there are currently some protests under discussion that may affect the ranking. All the results are to be considered provisional.


Racing Day 2 – Saturday 3 July 2021

News in from Lake Garda…. The Optimist Worlds

The RSA Optimist Sailing Team has enjoyed two days of stiff competition at Lake Garda in Italy. Nicola Sadler is showing the benefit of training in large competitive fleets and opened the regatta with a solid 6th place. She banked three more top 20 results and is well placed going into day three. Sean Kavanagh hasn’t sailed in a large competitive fleet since 2019. Day one was a reminder that you have to fight for every inch and that clean air is key. He banked one top 20 result so far and is lying just above mid fleet. He is positive going into day three and relishing the competition that one just doesn’t get in South Africa. Elisa Falcon has had a difficult time getting off the start line and subsequently been forced to sail in dirty air. Like Sean she is battling hard and enjoying the competition. She will be hoping to get to mid fleet or better tomorrow. Theo Scheder-Bieschin has had a tough regatta so far but is soaking in the experience of sailing in an awesome venue against the best young sailors in the world. On day one the race committee set a square line, resulting in a bun fight at the committee end as sailors were aware that the right hand side of the race track pays on Lake Garda. On day two the wind was more shifty and the race committee added substantial pin bias to get the sailors to spread out on the line. It worked and the early leaders in all the races came from the pin end. However getting right was still a priority while playing the shifts in an oscillating breeze. The wind has also varied in velocity from as much as 18-20 knots and as little as 6-8 knots, putting the sailors awareness of how to use the sail controls to change gear to the test. It is a wonderful experience for our young sailors. They are privileged to be mentored and coached by Mark Sadler and managed by Stefan Falcon whose fluency in the Italian language and familiarity with the venue is a big advantage. {Copied without permission from RCYC Facebook page)


Day 2. Nicola RSA 3207. Photo Credit Zerogradinord
Day 2. Sean RSA 1439. Photo Credit Zerogradinord

RED FLEET – Theodor / Sean


“One of the greatest privileges when you spend all that money to travel to a world championship is that you find an endless supply of sail ties scattered on the floor everywhere. This is the catch of yesterday and today. I will never have to buy sail ties, ever.” SF
“Coach Mark and his Ecuadorian buddy picked up ECU sailors and en route to collect RSA sailors to tow to starting area.” SF
“All boats launched and on their way for two races on day 2 of the world championships. We have Nicola on blue, Theo and Sean on red, and Elisa on green fleet . Hopefully track track will be working better than yesterday.” SF

We are ready for Day 2 of racing, which kicks off with a change at the top of the standings: after yesterday’s protests, USA Team sailor Fynn Olsen was disqualified from Race 2. The new leader of the ranking is Gill Hackel (🇺🇸), followed by Weka Bhanubandh (🇹🇭) and Rocco Wright (🇮🇪). Races will resume today at 1.00pm!

Here in Garda. The teams closer to the big east slipway find it easier to park inside the shed.
West side parking at the clubhouse.

Racing Day 1 – Friday 2 July 2021


“Had a long chat with Sean. He needs to fight harder for the committee boat end of the line. Also need to be careful not to depower his sail in the later afternoon. Today the breeze died and his sail was too underpowered. Lost 20 places on the last beat. But he needs to get to the right off the start and in clean air. It’s tough, last time he sailed in a competitive fleet was June 2019, so a little rusty and competition tough as you would expect. I thought mid fleet was not too bad today. Just a really disappointing last beat.” MK

Opening Ceremony – Thursday 1 July 2021

Thursday 1 July 2021

Every team gets a lockable storage box indoor. Teams put in there spares and tools, because no cars nor vans are allowed on the compound. We have Sean move in our box so that he can sleep closer to his boat. SF


Tuesday 29 June 2021

Back at the apartment now. Sailors having a shower. Debrief in the next 10 minutes, then off to dinner. From tomorrow evening the event meals kick in. So we will pretty much live at the sailing club full time. We are in an apartment block with 12 apartments, all pretty much occupied by teams of the world championships. The all so familiar smell of wet boots and neoprene hiking pants has already lowered the estate resale value by 10%. SF

Sunday 27 June 2021

Parts of team SA are still sleeping. It must be a energy saving technique in preparation for the perilous journey ahead. Other parts of team SA are trying to figure out how to stay within the baggage weight allowance by repacking sails and ropes and their only spare underpants, all the time wondering when did beauty cases start to become so big. SF

Team RSA: Elisa, Theo, Sean & Nicola + coach Mark & manager Stefan … travel safely today. Sail hard & most importantly, have fun & make great memories. You’ll hear us cheering U on from here. Optimist Worlds, Lake Garda, Italy. KS