Worlds 2021

More than just plain sailing – Stefan Falcon

Team Manager’s report from Optimist World Championships 2021

I stepped in this role quite late in the programme due to the fact that the previously appointed manager contracted Covid and had to step down. The Team Manager position is typically a parental role, and because my daughter was competing in the event it was decided that I should take over.

It did help a lot that just a month beforehand I had travelled to Italy with Elisa to take part in the Meeting del Garda. That trip provided us with the blueprint to use for this trip.

An Optimist World Championship follows a very distinct structure from other championships. Each country enters up to 5 sailors, a coach and a Team Leader. Sometimes a third adult, a Manager, is entered. They are all entered, because the entry covers everything: meals, accommodation, and of course the entry in the competition. The events normally happen in a closed compound, and access is gained only by entered people who wear the event badge. The organizers take care of everything, from shuttling people to and from the airport to chartering boats and RIBs (these carry additional cost over and above the entry fee). Once your team is entered, you pretty much only have to worry about flights and some spending money, the rest should be covered by the organizers. In reality there are a number of tasks, small and big, that one Team Manager must quickly learn about and carry out.

 

Team and Travel arrangements

Our team was made up of 4 sailors, a coach and myself.

One sailor, Nicola Sadler, would be travelling from Spain where she lives with her parents and her father Mark Sadler, being the coach for the SA team, would be driving her to Riva Del Garda from Palma. Their trip was probably longer and harder than ours.

Elisa Falcon, Theodore Scheder Bischein, Sean Kavanagh and myself flew from Cape Town to Milano via Doha on Qatar Airways.

Due to Covid restrictions the amount of paperwork to be filled in at the airport and before boarding was quite phenomenal; we needed a whole 3 hours at the airport to check in, but once we boarded the plane we could enjoy quite an unusual amount of space. The outgoing flights were less than half full and it was possible to lay down and sleep on whole rows of seats.

Before travelling could commence, though, we had to go to the lab and get Covid tested 48 hours before flying and some packing arrangements had to be made.

A week before flying I fixed covid testing times and packing times. I wanted to pack two tubes with 6 sails. I wanted to have each sailor’s racing sail in one tube and all the training/spare sails in the other, so that if one tube got lost we could still all sail. The plan did not account for the fact that Sean still had not completed his sail development programme and was to carry 3 sails and a whole array of spars, so he ended up having all of his gear in one tube and the other two sailors shared other two tubes. Luckily no tubes were lost, so my plan did not need to get tested. Despite a generous baggage allowance from Qatar, we still had some overweight bags and had to perform a reshuffling show at the check in counter, where the heavy packers took advantage of the light packers’ residual weight allowance.

In the weeks preceeding travel I asked the families to prepare travel documents, medical insurance, pocket money, and gave some advice on what to carry and what not to carry.

At any rate, the flight to Milano was quite uneventful, save for a couple of false alarms of lost property.

In Milano we discovered that the rental car I had prebooked was a little too small for our purposes and we upgraded to a station wagon. We fitted reasonably well, tubes on the roof, for our three hour drive to Lake Garda. We arrived in the evening, directly at the house where we were booked to stay.

 

Accommodation and surrounds

Mark and Nicola were already there and had sorted the sleeping arrangements. The boys and I would sleep in the first floor apartment and Mark and the girls would take the third floor apartment. The building is a three storeys apartment block with 12 separate apartments. All were occupied by teams competing in the championships; we had Thai, Norwegians, Romanians, Latvians all in the same apartment block. Although the spoken languages may differ around the world, the smell of wet boots and wetsuits seems to be rather universally constant.

Riva is quite a small town, and from the apartment block to the sailing club it was no more than a 5 minutes walk. Oftentimes the sailors would walk to and from the club without an accompanying adult, and that was perfectly safe.

Mark had also brought from home two of his bicycles for a swifter commute and unless we had to carry some gear to or from the club we mostly left the cars in the courtyard. When we needed to carry equipment down, it helped that I was able to communicate with the carpark attendant in Italian. We quickly became friends and he would allow me to leave the car parked for long periods of time where only members of the organization should have parked. Speaking in Italian also allowed us to have the upper hand in other circumstances throughout the event, and the organizers remembered me from a month before too. Some things for our team happened faster in Italian even though everybody from the organizing team speaks very good English.

The club is one of the oldest and largest clubs in the country. It had already hosted an Optimist World Championship in 2013 and it was Norberto Foletti’s project to have it at his home club one more time. He was a long standing member of FVR and the President of Aico, the Italian Optimist association, for many years, but he died just a month before this event. FVR hosts on average 6 major regattas a year: European championships, worlds, or all Olympic classes National championships. They have a very well structured organization with several staff, and for them this World championship was just another event. Running on the heels of the Meeting it was a small event too.

 

Equipment

Being in Europe, charter boats were not mandatory and two thirds of the competitors brought their own boats. In Team SA only Elisa had her privately owned boat, the other three were chartered. A mistake was made during the entry when 4 boats had been chartered instead of three, making it quite a mission to obtain the refund. The charter boats were supplied by Nautivela, directly from the manufacturer and Blue Blue, through SailingCenter, a Dutch charter company. We were randomly allocated a Nautivela for Sean and two Blue Blue for Nicola and Theo. All Charter boats are brand new and go for sale immediately after the event, quite reasonably priced. Most privately owned boats are very new too. There is an incredible assortment of manufacturers; Carter, Fighter, Winner, Baranowsky in all his different permutations, Faccenda, Nordest, Mc Laughlin, They are all there. I just did not see any Chinese manufactured boats, and I cannot say that any one manufacturer has the biggest share of sales, all brands were evenly represented and none is remarkably better that the others. The same can be said for spars, foils and sailmakers, there is a phenomenal variety of suppliers for all tastes. It is incredible to note how many manufacturers specialize exclusively in producing only Optimist parts or sails and do not chase other markets. Volume of sales must be large enough to justify such business choices.  I had the impression that most new suppliers nevertheless are from Poland: that seems to be the new epicenter of Optimist production.

 

Team structure

It must be noted, however, that Optimist sailing in Europe is an industry, not a leisure activity. Under the directorship of IODA every little aspect of every event is scrutineered and kept in check by rules and bylaws. IODA charges a fair amount to sailors, NAs and event organizers to generate enough income to pay salaries to secretaries, measurers and other staff and to fly them around the world from event to event. Likewise the club and National sailing teams are all similarly structured and run like pro football teams. Each team is accompanied by a Coach , a team leader and more often than not a second manager. They each have their own roles and their days quite filled with tasks. Very few parents could be seen at the venue, and the few that were there attended in an official capacity. To put things in perspective: the Italian team had Alex De Murtas with them, who was one of the hopefuls for overall victory. Alex is a FVR member, has been for generations. He probably lives within walking distance from the club. Never once has anyone of his family been seen at the venue. The Italian team (5 sailors, a coach and a team leader) lived together, ate together, trained together, went to bed at the same time, no external interferences. We saw them at every meal and had them near us in the compound, never did I see an Italian parent until the last day, when they all arrived. This arrangement is the same that is applied at every other regatta by every other team: the club teams travel with their coaches who drive the club’s van. This has created a legion of professional Optimist coaches who all run their programmes and logistics in the same way. There seems to be an unwritten protocol that everybody follows. All coaches know each other and are pretty much interchangeable. There is hardly anything to reinvent in the organization and structure of all the European teams.

Our setup was not as well proven as the other teams, but with Mark we quickly allocated each other tasks and we learned quickly how to structure our little army. Mark is not normally an Optimist coach, being the parent that drops his children at the gate of the club, and I had to quickly find out what was needed of me throughout the event. We started from the most important feature: the sailing. Our day programmes and schedules had to revolve around the sailing, be it training or racing, therefore Mark had priority in calling briefing times, rigging times, breakfast times and my task was to assist in any way so that he should focus only on the sailing. It was my task to submit our daily temperature checks, organize meals, laundry, purchases, signing in and out, delivering the trackers, filling up the water bottles, and running any errand that would make life easier for the team. I learned quickly and hardly had a moment of spare time. There was always some document or payment or enquiry to chase, and with 4 teenage sailors there were quite a few search and rescue missions to be undertaken for wetsuits, shorts, sunglasses, burgees, dry bags, etc. Any dream I may have hatched on the plane to sip afternoon beers on the club balcony quickly dissipated on day one. I tried to make sure that everybody had what they needed when they needed it and put on the back burner admin tasks which I took care of when the boats left the shore.

 

Measurement

The first two days of the event are also measurement days. A never ending queue of Optimist enters one side of the shed to exit at the other end after all is checked to be compliant. With three new charter boats it went rather quickly for team SA. Only Elisa had too big a tolerance on her mast ring (for which I had a spare) and was 100 grams underweight. We applied correctors to her boat and all were ready to go. The measurement checks are quite strict, and quite a few boats needed some work to measure correctly.

 

Coach buddies

Coach boats are shared between two countries to minimize the amount of traffic on the water. We originally requested to share with Spain because Nicola sails with the Spanish squad, but the request never reached the organizers and Spain was already paired up when we got there. We tried to go with Ireland because Elisa had worked with their coach already, but Ireland was also already paired up. I then met Michael, our Polish coach friend from Saldanha and TSC, and in a last attempt I tried to share the coachboat with Poland, but we would have had to forfeit our RIB charter fee because Poland was using a private RIB. This was an important lesson: coachboat pairing must not be left to happen randomly, we must make our request early on and make sure that the pairing is done correctly. It must be the coaches choice to pair up with someone, and the Manager’s duty to make it happen during the early entry stages. Organizing to go with with Poland early on would have saved us also a little bit of charter fee.

Anyway, we were paired with Ecuador and Mark was able to seize control of the RIB so that he could better manage our athletes. At the beginning it was chaos for both coaches, they had sailors in all 4 fleets. When it came to the Finals, the Ecuadorians had all sailors in one fleet, so it was easier for them; Mark had his sailors scattered over 3 fleets and had to become creative, asking the Spanish team to tow Nicola who needed to be out for the first starts. I doubt he had any time to watch any of the racing, because at any one time he would have had a sailor at the RIB in between races.

 

Going digital

It had to happen anyway, but Covid certainly accelerated the process: there are no more physical notice boards. Everything (results, notices, protests) is posted on whatsapp groups, on the event microsite, or on the event’s app, which you must download when you register. Every sailor has their own online account where his/her personal communications, protests, etc are posted. There are also emails sent back and forth with the organizers, therefore it is unthinkable to take on the role of Team leader or coach without a smartphone. All communications happen very quickly, and people want results, or pictures before racing is even finished and WiFi can be slow, so I purchased a local SIM to be able to stay on top of things, that certainly helped. With Mark we also had VHF comms from shore to RIB, but we rarely used it, we communicated mostly via whatsapp. Also the Race Committee rarely used radios. Only during team racing did I hear them on VHF. Another app that one must install on the phone is the Track Track, that enables shorebound folks to watch the racing on a screen. It provides an accurate rendering of the results and positions, albeit with a 6 minutes delay, but it is not as accurate as the software used in Television to broadcast the America’s Cup. For the coaches it is sometimes the only way to watch the regatta, but it is somewhat ambitious to try and do some forensics of a race with it: you can’t pick up shifts and windspeed changes, and sometimes the marks are way off position. Still, better than receiving a telex.

 

The Africans bid

During the past year a group of South African parents started working on a Continental Championship bid to be held in Langebaan in 2022. I knew that, as Team Manager, it would be my task to present and market the South African bid at the IODA AGM. I was briefed and given the signed forms and sent off. I also asked my daughter Sara to prepare a 3 minutes presentation video, highlighting the merits of the chosen venue. I circulated this video on the Whatsapp groups for all other teams to see and that was the beginning of my canvassing campaign. Before the AGM I had to have two meetings, one with Susan, the regatta secretary, and another with the IODA Exco to promote our bid. I think it went well because they decided to bring our bid to the AGM. The AGM is something huge: 52 delegates attend, one for each country in attendance at the Worlds, and several more attend remotely. It looks almost like a United Nations meeting. The buffet lunch alone is a valid reason for attending. The usual things are discussed, budgets, rules, elections of key personnel, and then the venues for Worlds and Continental championships have to be voted 2 years in advance. We were voting for the venues of 2023 after watching the bidder’s pitches. Worlds and Europeans needed 5 subsequent revotes before the ties would be broken. Other continents, including Africa, went a lot quicker. We secured the bid for 2022, but in all honesty I cannot claim any credit for my presentation; we had no competition for our bid.

I emphasized the willingness from our side to have also non-African countries attend, and I put the Family holiday spin to it: come to South Africa for the family holiday of a lifetime and stay also for the African Championship. There is plenty of work to be done to put this championship together now, and we must not think that we are starting too soon. If we have to take away a lesson or two from what I have seen at FVR, we have to get going with the organization from now. Charter boats must be organized and delivered, RIBs must be sourced, venue hired, judges and RO contacted, deals must be struck with tourism boards and travel agents, and so forth.

 

The big shed

FVR has a 5000sqm shed just on the shore of the lake. This shed constantly changed purpose during the event. It started out as the measurement checks area: boats would wheel in from one end and emerge stamped and approved on the other side. Each team had an allocated time to bring all the boats and equipment, not sooner, not later.

Half of the shed was then converted to canteen. A catering company was in charge of serving buffet breakfasts and evening meals to all teams. Each team had a designated table and allocated time to come and eat; 4 separate shifts.

Another quarter of the shed was filled with wooden boxes for the teams to store their equipment. Each box was ¾ of a cubic metre and we used ours to keep tools, spares, life jackets, snacks.

The balance of the shed was used to store rigs upright for those who did not want to roll their sails every evening and for the coaches meeting every morning. Some evenings there would be some presentations for the sailors, regarding team racing, or other relevant issues like measurement.

Here in Garda. The teams closer to the big east slipway find it easier to park inside the shed.

This shed is also where every morning a small army of caterers would prepare the packed lunches and the team leaders would come and collect.

I spent a lot of time in this shed, if it wasn’t to collect or store equipment in the box, I was there to pimp our sandwiches that needed some boosting up from the initial recipe. I would have to go there to collect and deliver the trackers every day, of course I was there with our team for all the meals, and I ended up there because of the WiFi, of course.

 

Moving around

As far as the racing goes, I did not see much of it. Obviously there was plenty of discussions, briefing and debriefing to attend with Mark and the sailors, where I quickly was brought up to speed, but my days were differently occupied. I was glad that we rented a car and I could have that mobility required to run some errands and carry sails and bags. Other venues for World championships have been run in resorts where everything is there and you don’t need to leave the compound, but Riva was a little more spread out, and to have access to something faster than walking was useful from time to time.

It was just a lucky coincidence that we had a Take Away Pizza Dude just 100 metres from our accommodation, because that allowed me to bridge the time between sailing and dinner with 4 feral kids. Almost every day we would pick up an Extra Large pizza to be shared during debriefing.

We were contacted by some South Africans who run a Windsurf Centre near FVR, and we were invited to go visit, but we never managed to take them up on their offer, that is how full our days were.

 

Team Racing and Venice

In fact the only spare day we had was the second day of Team Racing, because we did not make it past the first day elimination rounds. We still did better than expected, but a lack of experience in Team Racing led us to an early exit from the tournament. The only element to blame here is the small number of Optimist sailors in South Africa. Only a larger fleet would enable Team Racing, as it stands we would not have enough teams to practice.

For this rest day, some of us decided to rest and remain in Riva, while Elisa and Theo decided to join me for a 2 hour drive to visit Venice. We were there for 3 hours, had an ice cream, walked through the city, and went for a Gondola tour, then back to Riva.

I believe that if you travel to the other side of the world for a regatta you should make the effort to visit a bit of the country you are travelling to, and with Venice only a short distance away I thought it would be criminal to give it a miss.

 

Packing and getting to know new cultures

The last day of racing was followed by packing, returning charter boats, and prizegiving. While prizegiving and the customary exchange of garments was happening between sailors, Mark was loading trailers, I was haggling the refund of damage deposits and emptying our storage box so that we would all be able to attend our final dinner in the shed, where extra space was created to allow everybody to dine simultaneously.

My brother and his family came to pick up Elisa for an extra week of holiday in Italy, and I asked him to bring a bathroom scale along. I was not going to entertain the Qatar Airlines passengers one more time in Milano airport: I made my two travel buddies weigh and reshuffle their belongings before closing their luggage and weighed all the tubes to make sure we were within the allowances.

For the trip back it was just Theo, Sean and myself, and everything went smoothly.

For the past two weeks I had encouraged my travel companions to embrace some of the local culture, try Italian foods and drinks and generally appreciate the diversity. All my hard work came to fruition when, after checking in our luggage, with half an hour to spare, we decided to hit the food court of the Airport.

We settled down and enjoyed our Big Macs with fries and a Sundae to top it all off.

Worlds 2021 – The Final Countdown

Photo Credit – Zerogradinord

 

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)

 

Follow the event here

 

Photo Credit – Chiara Freut

Oppie Worlds 2021 – The Journey

Event Website

Event Facebook Page

Gallery (Photo credits Matias Capizzano / Zerogradinord)

Opening Ceremony (Photo credits Matias Capizzano)

Videos

Live Tracking

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

 

Racing Day 3 – Sunday 4 July 2021

YELLOW FLEET- Elisa
BLUE FLEET – Nicola
RED FLEET – Theo
GREEN FLEET – Sean

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

BLUE FLEET – Nicola
RED FLEET – Theodor / Sean
GREEN FLEET – Elisa

 

“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

YELLOW FLEET- Nicola
BLUE FLEET – Elisa
RED FLEET – Sean
GREEN FLEET – Theodor

“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

Optimist Worlds 2021 – Riva del Garda

After a year of forced stop and the postponement of the Optimist World Championship due to the pandemic, Riva del Garda is confirmed as location of the 2021 edition of the Optimist Worlds. The hosting venue, Fraglia Vela Riva, together with all the members of the organizing committee, are ready to reorganize the event that will bring in the water the best young sailors of the World, from June 30th to July  10th, 2021.

The highlight event of the Optimist season returns to Riva del Garda after eight years: in 2013, in fact, the athlete from Singapore Loh Jia Yi, born in 1998, became World Champion on Lake Garda in a fleet of 259 young sailors.

The event of Riva del Garda will be determine who will follow in the golden books the three-times World Champion Marco Gradoni, athlete from the Tognazzi Marine Village, already winner of the World Title in Pattaya (2017), Limassol (2018) and Antigua (2019), becoming the first to complete a enterprise of the kind.

The new global situation places the organizers in front of new challenges, but there is no lack of enthusiasm in the words of the President of Fraglia Vela Riva, Alfredo Vivaldelli: “As Fraglia Vela Riva we are very happy that IODA and the Turkish Sailing Federation, assignee of the 2021 World Championship, have worked together to ensure that this prestigious event, which as we know was scheduled for 2020, could actually take place on Garda Lake. As Organizing Committee we are aware of the importance of the event and of the difficulties that the well-known health emergency brings with it, but we are equally aware that we have the human resources, the experience and the structures necessary to guarantee everyone fun and competitive spirit in a safe and secure environment”.

The event will start on June 30th, 2021, and will end on the 10th  of July, including qualifications, team races and finals.

The 2021 Optimist World Championship is organized by Fraglia Vela Riva, Riva del Garda Fierecongressi, Garda Trentino and AICO – Italian Optimist Class Association.

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