World 2013 – Riva del Garda, Italy

51st Optimist World ChampionshipsThis year’s Opti Worlds was held in the picturesque and mountains Riva del Garda, Italy from 16-26 July. The 51st World Optimist Championships was organised this year by Fraglia Vela Riva in collaboration with IODA  (the International Optimist Class).

Registrations closed with a final total of 254 competitors from a record 58 countries and 5 continents this possibly being one of the World Championships with the most nations participating.

The British Virgin Islands were represented by the Royal BVI Yacht Club’s Jason Putley (15 years) and Thad Lettsome (11 years) who both qualified for the event at the flagship BVI Dinghy Championship held earlier this year. Whilst the World Optimist Championship is not the biggest Opti event, it is by far the most prestigious as only the top 5 qualifier of a country is allowed to attend.

The first three days of racing brought very impressive results from both sailors with Jason placing as high as 69 and Thad as high as 98 of the 254 competitors into the third day as winds were strong and favoured both sailors. Putley’s best race was a 10th and Lettsome’s best race was a 12th, in fleets of about 65 boats. The glory was short-lived however, as the following days of racing to the conclusion of the event was marked by uncharacteristically light winds and fierce competition to get a place on the favoured side of the crowded start line. At the end of the racing, Putley ranked at 100 and Lettsome at 175. Both sailors learned a great deal about sailing on a lake and about how different types of winds off the mountains affect the conditions on the lake.

The event is Putley’s last Worlds event (he having attained the age of 15 years) and Lettsome’s first. Putley easily outranked his sailing colleagues in the USVI and the rest of the Caribbean. Lettsome was the fifth youngest competitor of the 254 and, against this back drop, his performance is seen as very promising.

Worlds 2014 will be held in Argentina in October 2014 and in Poland in 2015.