172 boats, the largest Opti regatta ever hosted in Oz, gets underway!

A flurry of activity in the rigging area preparing boats for tomorrow’s racing - 2011 International Optimist Australian & Open Championship
Damian Devine
2011 International Optimist Australian and Open Championships- With the largest Optimist regatta ever hosted in Australia, the Pittwater waterway will be a spectacular sight when a massive 172 boats, with kids aged between 8 and 15, assemble tomorrow for the start of the 2011 Optimist Australian and Open Championships, hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Newport.

The RPAYC carpark was filled today with boats, sails and competitors here for the final registration - 2011 International Optimist Australian & Open Championship
Damian Devine


The RPAYC and the Organising Committee couldn't be happier with the number of entries they have received from every state of Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Japan and Germany. The sailors, along with their families, have been arriving over the last few days with many of them having been out on Pittwater for some early practice and to familiarise themselves with the conditions

The 172 competitors have been broken down into two fleets; Open and Green with the Open boasting a fleet size of 116, and the Green 56. The Open fleet, due to its sheer size, has been broken down further into four groups of equal size, with each group racing off against one another an equal number of times in a mini round robin. Boats will not be regrouped during the Championship and there are no seedings.

The Green fleet is designed for younger, less experienced kids early in their sailing career. They sail shorter courses and in lighter conditions giving them the opportunity to advance their sailing skills in competition.

The RPAYC was bursting at the seams today with the carpark filled with boats, sails and competitors here for the final registration and measurement. The Open Fleet prepared for a practice race in the afternoon before all competitors gathered for the Opening Ceremony and competitors briefing held tonight at the host Club, the RPAYC.

Jury Chairman Rob Ware said of today’s practice race, 'The short 40 minute race today gave all competitors a feel for the course, the starting sequence signals, the marks and the conditions. The conditions were fairly light with 5-12 knots out if the East North East and all the kids looked great, as they prepare for tomorrow. The role of the jury during this regatta will be to enforce the rule of propulsion so that everyone is on a level playing field and the principles of good sportsmanship are adhered to. It should be a great week of racing.'

With a competitor briefing in the morning, racing gets underway tomorrow at 1000hrs for the Green fleet and 1130hrs for the Open fleet and will continue until Sunday. The BOM forecast for tomorrow is East to northeasterly breeze 15 to 20 knots.

Heading out to the practice race ahead of tomorrow's racing - 2011 International Optimist Australian & Open Championship
Damian Devine


The race course will be to the area North of Scotland Island and held over six days with a lay day on Friday. Up to 12 races will be sailed, with no more than four per day, to determine the overall winner. Scoring of the boats series score will be based on her individual race scores less two drops for her worst performances over the 12 races. He or she with the lowest points after this will be crowned the champion.


The 2011 International Optimist Australian & Open Championships is also the selection event for the Australian Optimist Sailing Team (AOST), and next year every member of the 22 member AOST will be given the chance to represent Australia at an International event. The top five sailors will be sent to the World Championships in Napier, New Zealand where they will be up against 250 of the Worlds best junior sailors from 50+ countries, while others will travel to the Asian Championships, the New Zealand Nationals or the Singapore Nationals depending on their ranking in the team.

RPAYC Rear Commodore Centreboard Pru Bennett said, 'It’s very exciting for the Alfred’s to be hosting the Optimist Nationals. An event like this requires a lot of planning and there has obviously been a lot of work that has gone on behind the scenes in preparation for this event, it’s enormous. This is the biggest Optimist regatta ever held in Australia and it’s fantastic to welcome so many young sailors and their families to the Club and Pittwater, over the next week or so.'

So with the scene set and some good sailing promised over the coming week, it will only be a matter of time before we know who will be crowned the 2011 Australian Optimist Champion. Good luck to all competitors!

To follow all the action on the regatta visit http://www.rpayc.com.au/2011-optimist-nationals

The RPAYC and the Organising Committee wish to thanks their sponsors planit, Quantum Sails, Proactive signs and images, Zhik, Oz Opti and Rob Brewer.

The Optimist rigging area at the RPAYC - 2011 International Optimist Australian & Open Championship
Damian Devine