Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Regional: Eighteen Caribbean Youths in the Opti Worlds


VIA: Caribbean Racing .com

The 42nd Optimist World Championship opened on Saturday at the Salinas Yacht Club in Ecuador. A total of 51 countries are represented by 229 sailors, a new record with the exception of the special Millennium Worlds of 2000 where many entries were subsidized by the Class. Organizers credit the exceptional number of entries to the enthusiastic response of the Caribbean, sending eighteen sailors from six islands including first-timers Dominican Republic and Netherlands Antilles. Returning to the World Championships from the Caribbean are Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and the USVI.

The Caribbean sailors are struggling to make their mark. After eight races, Matthew Scott representing Trinidad and Tobago has the best chance of getting his name onto a trophy. Half way through the series, he has two second place finishes, two fifths, an 11th, a 15th, a 32nd and an OCS. Overall, he currently sits in 11th place. Andrew Lewis, also of Trinidad and Tobago, had a very strong showing the first day of racing finishing overall in fourth place but has since dropped to 43rd. Regardless, the home team should be very proud as the tiny four year-old fleet in Trinidad has never previously had a sailor in the top half of the fleet.
The Optimists are fun little boats and it's nice to see such a high level of participation from the region.

Kudos to those who helped send these kids to the Championships.

Given the excellent sailing conditions of the Caribbean, it would be nice to see the various Caribbean nations that didn't manage to send a contingent wise up enough to better tap our vast potential talent pool. I'd also love to see youth sailing/racing in general reach the level of a sort of Little League (pun intended) for aspiring Caribbean racers.

There could one day be hundreds of potential Peter Holmbergs competing on the world stage.

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