Canadian Optimist Dinghy Championship

Thomas and Keith Simmons from Salt Spring Island raced in this great event. It was held at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and had many dignitaries in attendance the elaborate opening ceremonies welcomed competitors from Bermuda, New Zealand, United States, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and even little Saltspring Island. There were about 100 racers registered for the regatta, including kids aged 6-15 years old from all over the world. The Opti is considered the pre Olympic boat to hone skills before moving up to the bigger boats. I had no idea that the registration and measurement requirements would be so intense. Our little club boats had no Canadian sail number, stickers in the wrong place, sails that did not comply, dagger boards that where a millimeter too long, and rigging that was not up to code. I was glad we went a day early and had six hours to get them through the measurements! The coach boat Tobasco 11 was great to have on the water and worked without problems.

The event was five days of intense racing with two to four 45 minute races per day. The first race had about 80 Optimists on the line and was a long course out of Cadboro bay with two laps around a mark and back. The competition fierce and Keith and Thomas were outmatched. The boys did their best but came in dead last. During the next race Keith capsized at the far mark but managed to get the boat back upright and bailed all the way back to the finish. I was proud of their determination to continue but knew it was not going to be fun to lose every race.

I went to the race committee and asked permission for the boys to resign from the championship fleet and race in the green fleet, which we now realized was not just for kids who had never sailed.

The green fleet proved to be good competitive racing and the boys finished mid pack on most races. RVYC did a spectacular job in setting up the races and providing a jury boat. Yes they had umpires on the water to check for rule 42 violations. The older kids pump the sails on the back side of waves and get a boost. The top HI racers in the regatta have Qualified to go the 2010 Opti worlds in Malaysia. Overall it was a surreal event that we were not prepared for, but now we know!


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