Difficult conditions at Optimist Worlds

The 2019 Optimist World Championship endured another day of high winds and vigorous current in English Harbour, Antigua, which saw an intense day of racing, resulting in a mixed bag of successes and losses for the young competitors.

Host nation Antigua’s famed trade winds once again packed a punch for the pint-sized participants, who are aged between 11 and 15 and hail from 65 countries across the globe.

A smart, strategic move elevated Team Spain’s Jaime Ayarza, 13, to third in the leader board after securing a first and a second place in his two races.

“It was a difficult day because it was very windy and I am light,” said Ayarza. “But I went over to the left side near the coast and got some good wind. I am looking to do my best tomorrow for the last day. The secret to being a good sailor is being confident and staying focused. I give my best every time and don’t give up.”

Jaime is among the 60 sailors in the tournament’s gold fleet, with the remainder of the 255 competitors divided into silver, bronze, and emerald according to their performance in the qualifier stage.

One team that trained specifically with tough winds in mind is USA which has four of the team in the top 40 placed sailors.

Thommie Grit, 15, said the four boys and one girl had really enjoyed the waves and swell after practicing hard overseas before heading to Antigua this month.

“Our training was pretty hardcore,” he recalled. “We sailed in St Thomas and Fort Lauderdale to get warmed up and in shape.

“The starts were really difficult today because the current was pushing everyone back. I managed to pass a lot of people by surfing waves.”

Tomorrow is the last day, with European teams continuing to dominate the leader board’s top spots, with two-time defending world champion Marco Gradoni of Italy in first position, followed by Malta’s Richard Schultheis in second and Spain’s Ayarza in third.

Ian Walker March, of South Africa, is currently fourth and Bermuda’s Sebastian Kempe is fifth. The top girl is Spain’s Maria Perello in 9th.

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Current Results (Top 10 of 255):

After the qualifying stage of the Optimist World Championship on July 8-10, the fleet racing took a pause as the Optimist Team Racing World Championship was held July 11-12. The fleet racing championship resumed on July 13-15 with scores from the qualifying round being carried forward to determine the final results.

The 2019 Optimist World Championship has attracted 255 sailors aged 11 to 15 years from 65 nations, beating the previous record of 62 nations set at the 2017 Optimist Worlds in Thailand. Racing is scheduled on July 8-15.

Published: 14th July. Source: Gemma Handy

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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