49 Nations entered for the Opti Worlds 2011 at Napier

Optimist North Island Open Championships - Napier October 2011
Tim Whittaker

Optimist World Sailing Championships organisers were today thrilled to receive an entry from the Nigerian team taking the total number of countries coming to Napier to compete up to 49!

The most popular sailing event worldwide – the Optimist World Championship is only 38 days away.

Many children (and parents) dream about this event for years and only the five best sailors of each country can show off their skills during this challenging nine day competition.

Forty-nine countries will arrive in Napier - New Zealand around Christmas. Most sailors participate in the Pre-Worlds Clinic or the Harken Invitational Regatta to get a feel for the local conditions before getting ready for why they are here: the 2011 World Championships. The regatta, on December 28 and 29, provides a great opportunity for kiwi sailors to test their skills against the worlds best, with more than 50 kiwis already entered.

Art Deco Capital of the World – Napier is putting on a Parade for all countries to officially open the World Championships. All 49 countries will participate on New Year ’s Eve and receive a real New Zealand welcome. But no late nighters can be expected: the first race is on January 1st, 1300 hours.

Most countries have entered their 5 top sailors, New Zealand will be represented by Leonard Takahashi-Fry, Markus Somerville and William McKenzie (all from Auckland) Isaac McHardie from Hamilton and Nathaniel Deverell from Taipa, the Bay of Islands. The NZ team will move to Napier in early December to begin their preparation and training in local conditions.

Event Director Nigel Rippey says: 'We are very excited to see so many countries registering. We had hoped to get to 50 and we have several countries as yet to confirm. Competitors are coming from all corners of the globe, from all parts of Asia, Russia and Mozambique. It is such an important event in the lives of many young sailors. This is where champions are born, the future Olympic Medals can be seen in Napier this year'.

The Opti Worlds Chairman Pete Dawson has been preparing for this event for years. 'A group of us were in Uruguay in 2006 when we first thought that this event needs to come to New Zealand. We continued the discussion for a few years and eventually realised that this event needed to come to New Zealand - one of the world's great sailing nations. So while in Rio in 2009 we put the bid in and won! The excitement has been building since. This is the first time in 50 years of Optimist sailing that the Opti Worlds has been any where near Oceania.'

A lot of planning and organising is involved, and a few challenges had to be overcome, but we are finally here: there will be many proud parents in Napier this year.

'There is a great community spirit in Ahuriri, Napier' says Nigel Rippey. 'We have received so much support from the business community and it is really fantastic to know that so many people support young talent'.

www.optiworldsnz.com

Opti Worlds Vital Stats:
30 December 2011 - 10 January 2012
The boat: a safe and simple dinghy that is one of the world's most popular designs
The racing: 9 days of Championship racing
The competitors: around 220 sailors aged between 11 and 15 years
The countries: teams from 49 nations including reigning Champs Thailand
The host club: Napier Sailing Club, Napier, New Zealand
Famous sailors that have started out in Optis include: Ben Ainslie
The big sponsors: Vodafone, New Zealand Major Events, Hawke's Bay Tourism, SPARC, City of Napier, Air New Zealand, the Radio Network, EuroCity Napier, Victoria Cruising Club, Lion Foundation
The technology: GPS tracking and live video coverage online - real time
The website: www.optiworldsnz.com
The Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/optiworldsnz2011