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International regatta will be a success, say organisers

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Local organisers of the 2013 North American Championships (Optinam) have begun laying the groundwork to ensure that July’s international regatta is a huge success.

Bermuda is hosting the regatta featuring 180 elite Optimist sailors from various countries around the world for the first time since 2002 when future Olympian Jessie Kirkland claimed top honours on home surf.

The regatta will be held July 3-11 with fleet racing to be held in the Great Sound and team racing in Hamilton Harbour.

Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) are the regatta’s hosts.

As well as Kirkland, Bermuda has also produced two additional past North American champions in Elijah Simmons and Sean Buchard.

“We’ve got a history of winning and doing well in the North American Championships,” said Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association (BODA) president Anthony Bailey. “It (Optinam) is one of the biggest junior regattas coming back to Bermuda for a number of years and what we want to do is make sure Bermuda at large come out and look at this, not only as sailing, but also an opportunity to bring commerce back to Bermuda because the sailors travel with their parents, friends and family members as well so there’s a good opportunity to revitalise Bermuda’s economy at this time.”

BODA have already secured sponsorship from the Bank of Bermuda Foundation and Government but are still in need of additional funding to offset costs, with Bailey appealing to the corporate sector to come onboard to help offset costs.

“We want to make an appeal to corporate Bermuda to come on board,” Bailey said. “This venture is a combination of sailing and giving Bermuda an opportunity to have money poured back in to the Island, so it’s a reinvestment into Bermuda as a whole and we’re looking at this as a regatta and also an opportunity to promote Bermuda.”

BODA executive Somers Cooper said the considerable costs to host an event of this magnitude is worth every penny.

“It’s a very expensive regatta to produce but we think the benefits it brings to the Island and our sailors is tremendous,” he added.

Among the top countries competing are powerhouses Singapore, New Zealand, Spain and all 22 North American members.

IODA will provide Optimist dinghies that will be shipped in by Bermuda Container Line for participants who will be allowed to bring their own sails.

“It’s a level playing field and usually those boats are in better shape than people’s personal boats so it’s not a bad thing,” Cooper said.

As hosts, Bermuda has been allocated 15 spots which will go to the eventual qualifiers at the completion of the qualifying series.

“The qualification process for those 15 spots usually consists of at least 15 -20 races over a period of weeks and the top 15 will be eligible to represent Bermuda in the North American Championships here,” Cooper said.

The past RBYC commodore has high expectations for Bermuda’s Optimist sailors ahead of this summer’s Optinam.

“Sailors such as Chase Cooper (son) and Ceci Wollman in particular have really shown some great progress lately but there’s a number of sailors that could do very well in this regatta that includes Mikey Wollman, Peter Dill, Campbell Patton, Matilda Nichols and Benn Smith,” Cooper said. “Those are our top sailors right now and between now and then there’s still room to progress even further.

“I think they are sailing very well at this point in time and to be able to sail in a regatta of this magnitude in their own back yard really is an advantage as well, so I think Bermuda has the potential to have a number of sailors in the top ten.”

(Photo by Glenn Tucker) Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association (BODA) president Anthony Bailey.
(Photo by Glenn Tucker) Somers Cooper and Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association (BODA) president Anthony Bailey

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Published February 21, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated February 20, 2013 at 6:51 pm)

International regatta will be a success, say organisers

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