139 Optimist Dinghy Sailors Set For Competition

November 9, 2016

A total of 139 Optimist dinghy sailors from six countries are getting set to sail from the America’s Cup Endeavour West Fort at the Royal Naval Dockyard to compete for the 2016 Colonial Bermuda National and Open Championships, which will be held November 11-13.

Organized by the Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association [BODA] and hosted by the America’s Cup Endeavour Programme, this regatta will be the largest sailing fleet ever assembled to sail for a Bermuda National Championship.

A spokesperson said, “Numbers for the Championship fleet this year have been bolstered by the high level of interest from BODA’s American counterpart, the United States Optimist Dinghy Association [USODA] who are sending 20 sailors. Fifteen top sailors from the US National Optimist Team are registered including Stephan Baker, the 2016 North American and US National Champion from Florida.

“Also entered is fellow Floridian and 2015 Orange Bowl champion, Bella Casaretto.

“Other top sailors registered in the star studded field include Kamil Manowiecki, 2016 Polish National Optimist Champion as well as the top male and female sailors from Canada, Jack Gogan and Maya Heidenreich. Rounding out the international fleet is a small group from Belize and the Cayman Islands.

“Local sailors with their eye on the podium will certainly include Ahzai Smith, hot off his top Bermuda finish at last month’s RenRe Junior Gold Cup. Other contenders in the 75 boat Championship fleet will be Jordan Etemadi, 2015 BODA Sailor of the Year, Christian Ebbin [finishing as 2nd and 3rd Bermudian in Jr Gold Cup], Sebastian Kempe, recent RBYC Autumn Series winner and leading local female, Leyli Walker.

“Equally as exciting will be the Colonial Bermuda National Green Fleet Regatta which is comprised of 64 beginner racers including 46 graduates from both the America’s Cup Endeavour East and West locations. With the help from a grant from BODA, these sailors are excited to enter the regatta, marking the one-year anniversary of the inception of the America’s Cup Endeavour Programme.

“These sailors have worked hard over the summer with the ultimate goal to be prepared to compete in this regatta.”

Tom Herbert-Evans, Community Sailing Manager, said, “We are seeing many of the America’s Cup Endeavour program graduates wanting to continue sailing competitively and or recreationally, there are more eager participants and as it stands there aren’t enough boats or facilities in Bermuda able to cope with the amount of interest.

“This has certainly been driven by the 35th America’s Cup being held in Bermuda. Students seeing teams speeding across the Great Sound at 40kts, how can you not be inspired by that.”

BODA President Sean Ringsted said, “Our dream at the start of 2016 was a regatta of 100 sailors and we have exceeded that goal thanks to the enthusiastic efforts and commitment of sponsors, parents, coaches, volunteers and our regatta Chairperson Dede Cooper.

“This is a stunning end to the year, in which BODA has provided financial, coaching and logistical support to a significant number of local junior sailors in pursuit of their sailing dreams in Bermuda and overseas. The large entry of local sailors speaks to the vibrant health of junior sailing in Bermuda and BODA is thrilled to play its part in conjunction with the various Club and Endeavour programs.

“I am also very grateful to Dede Cooper for her tireless leadership of the event and all the volunteers who are giving their time on and off the water to make this record-breaking event possible.

“Soon to be the center of the sailing universe for the America’s Cup in 2017, Dockyard lends itself as an excellent venue for this year’s event.”

“It seemed so obvious to take advantage of such a perfect site to hold this year’s Championship. Dockyard and WEDCo have so much to offer and we are pleased to be able to support the local businesses up here.

“We are also particularly grateful to our title sponsor Colonial Insurance and the Neptune Group who helped get the boats and sailors here to this regatta,” said regatta Chairperson, Dede Cooper.

“Twelve races are scheduled for the Championship fleet over the long weekend and all racing will be out in the Great Sound, the Home of the 35th America’s Cup.”

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