Optimist news

March, April and May of 2017 have been wonderfully busy few months for Optimist sailors. Less than a month after the ASAF event in Singapore, the ASAF Youth Cup Final was held in Dubai. Then, in just two days, some of the same sailors participated in a World Test event in Thailand, only to find themselves back in Hong Kong, one week later, racing at the Samsung 60th Festival of Sport Regatta (22-23.Apr.17) in Port Shelter, Hong Kong.

ASAF Dubai was a challenging but very rewarding event. The club that staged the event had only opened for three weeks before the crowd arrived for the ASAF Youth Cup Final. Without a cloud in the sky, the wind was light, the swell and current was strong so there were a multitude of challenges.

However, things lightened up as the sailors were greeted by sea turtles and jelly fish on the days of training as well as during the competition itself. The racing went relatively smoothly and the Hong Kong team sailed well. Optimist sailors, Duncan Gregor and Douglas Leung won the 1st and 2nd positions respectively. At the end, the Hong Kong team won the Nations Trophy for a third time in row! What a great success.

The Optimist World Championship Test Event was held in Thailand in mid-April. The conditions were sunny with winds of up to 20 knots. Sailors from seven different countries sailed competitively. Hong Kong sailor, Duncan Gregor, won the individual first. Congratulations to Duncan!

The Festival of Sports followed very closely after the Test Event. On a rainy and chilly weekend in April, sailors gathered in Port Shelter, Sai Kung, to race in a ranking regatta that will determine who is to compete in the summer World Championship.

There were five races altogether over two days. The five sailors who will be competing in Thailand’s Optimist World Championship will be Duncan Gregor, Eloi Delfine, Thibault Minne, and twin sisters Nicolle and Jasmine Scholer. It is wonderful to see the sisters sailing for Hong Kong as it is probably the last time before they depart for Switzerland. Let’s take this opportunity to hear, from them, their journey through Optimist sailing:

“As one of the oldest Optimist sailors in Hong Kong, I have experienced a lot of racing locally. I began sailing at the age of eight and became part of a racing team at 10.

“The first few months as a racer was tough. My sister and I were already two of the top sailors in the team and our coach was always strict on us, constantly pushing us to be better sailors.

“After a few months, I was overwhelmed. I was on the verge of giving up the sport when I won my very first prize in a regatta. It was an amazing moment for me. I’ve never forgotten the feeling that I felt when I got up on to the podium and held the trophy in my hands. Till this day, I remind myself of that feeling. That is what pushed me to continue the sport. And I’m so glad I did!

“In the years that followed, I have competed in several overseas regattas. There have been too many to talk about, so I’ll share my experience with some of the most recent ones. April 2017 has been the busiest sailing month of my entire life! I flew to Ras Al Khaimah to compete in the ASAF Cup Final Series, where I came 2nd (girl) and 3rd overall in the ASAF Series.

“A day later I flew to Thailand for the Worlds Test Event. There, I competed against some of the best sailors in the world. Both regattas have been very good experience for me because I had the chance to prepare for the upcoming Optimist World Championships in Thailand. Optimist sailing has grown over the years and the competition is getting more and more difficult. I look forward to racing against the best sailors from all around the world."

” While we wish sisters Jasmine and Nicolle, and all Hong Kong sailors the very best in Thailand in July, there will be one more ranking regatta coming up middle of May to select sailors for the Optimist European Championship, to be held from late July to August. These events have been great experience for sailors to become engaged but let’s not forget the fun of sailing. Here’s wishing our sailors success in the coming events!

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