Bermuda Opti sailors off to compete in Europe
Bermuda’s youth sailors will put their skills to the test competing in the developmental Optimist dinghy at two major regattas on the European continent over the upcoming weeks.
Riley Lowe, Sophia Dias, Trystan Hocking and Cody Rans are scheduled to depart the island today for the International Optimist Dinghy Association European Championships taking place in Cádiz, Spain, from June 20 to 27.
Rans is making his debut at an IODA event while Lowe, Dias and Hocking are fresh from competing at this month’s Optimist North American Championships in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.
Lowe was the island’s highest- placed female sailor in Mexico in 60th in the overall fleet of 110 sailors from 12 countries.
The 13-year-old sailor competed in the Silver Fleet where she finished an impressive second among the female sailors and fifth among the 54 entries in her division.
Hocking, also 13, was the island’s second highest-placed sailor at the North American Championships and 37th overall after qualifying for the Gold Fleet on his debut at the regatta.
Dias competed alongside Lowe in the Silver Fleet where she placed 72nd overall.
Bermuda’s youth sailors will also showcase their budding talents at the IODA World Championships to be held in Riva del Garda, Italy from June 30 to July 11.
Among those flying the island’s banner are Ethan Thompson, Kipling Rossouw, PJ Rodrigues and Jordan Vieira who will depart next week for Italy keen to put their best foot forward.
Thompson is making his debut at an IODA regatta while Rossouw, Rodrigues and Vieira were also among the island’s contingent that competed at this month’s North American Championships.
Rodrigues was Bermuda’s highest-placed sailor in Mexico having finished 32nd competing in the Gold Fleet alongside Hocking.
Vierira and Rossouw both competed in the Silver Fleet, placing 66th and 81st respectively.
Both teams will be accompanied in Europe by coach Pablo Weber.
Dede Cooper, the Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association secretary, is thrilled to see the island’s youngsters competing at this level again after international competition came to a grinding halt last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are just so excited that they have been able to have this opportunity after staying dormant and our expectations are measured because of the lack of time on the water,” she said.
“The training has been so limited here and the opportunity to be on a big start line has also been limited so it’s a challenge.
“We hope for the best but don’t have any particular expectations because we haven’t really tested them.”
Cooper added: “We are just so happy that sailing seems to have come back and that the children are getting the opportunity to be on an international racecourse again to spread their wings and improve their skill level.
“We are just happy to have them out there getting the experience and seeing the level of talent away from the country and learning to work on a start line with more than 20 boats.”