Optimist World Championships New Zealand preview

Optimist Sailing in New Zealand - Optimist Worlds 2011
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Optimist World Championships are being held in Napier, New Zealand from December 30th 2011 to January 10th 2012.

More than 200 of the world’s most talented young sailors will converge on Napier for nearly a fortnight of competitive racing and shoreside activities.

The occasion is the Optimist World Championships, an event that celebrates the fun and challenging nature of the Optimist sailing dinghy, and seeks out those that have best mastered the art of racing this popular small boat.

'There are at least 130,000 Optimist sailing dinghies in the world, making it one of the most popular classes, and in New Zealand, as elsewhere, the boat has given many high profile Olympians, America’s Cup sailors, and ocean racers, a great start to a great sailing career,' says Opti Worlds Organising Committee Chairman Peter Dawson of the boat that is commonly used for young children to learn to sail in, until they are aged about 15.

Entries have already been received from 39 different nations, including Brazil, Russia, Sweden and India, and the Organising Committee are still hoping up to 50 nations will attend in total.

'Napier will be putting on a great welcome for competitors, their parents and supporters,' says Mayor of Napier, Barbara Arnott. 'The sailing venue here at Napier Sailing Club is fabulous, from beaches to vineyards and culture, we have much to see and do, especially for those coming from the Northern Hemisphere winter.'

New Zealand has a history of proud success at this event: in 2007 Chris Steele won the event outright, and Alex Maloney was the top girl and took third place overall, while New Zealand took the prize for top team.

Female sailor Noppakao Poonpat from Thailand is the current reigning World Champion.

The Opti Worlds programme commences on 20 December with a four day sailing clinic, and an invitation regatta for all internationals and 100 of the top New Zealand Optimist sailors, runs on 28 and 29 December. There will be a welcoming ceremony and registration event, and Championship Races will run from 1 January - 9 January 2012.

For the many families who will be away from home for the holiday season, Christmas Day will be celebrated at Eskdale Reserve, a beautiful Riverpark in the Hawke's Bay.

The 2011 Opti Worlds NZ is supported by New Zealand Major Events, Hawkes Bay Tourism, SPARC, and the City of Napier. Website design has been provided by Catalyst, and other supporters include EuroCity Cars, the Victoria Cruising Club, Vodafone and Air New Zealand.

Optimist World Championships NZ website