Well, it’s Holá from Costa Brava, España. The NZ Optimist Worlds Team comprise of Charlie Bridger, Nathan Soper, Ekhi de Jager, Matteo Barker & Isaac Gaites.
Due to the small window to the Worlds Championship, the sailors engaged in a couple of training sessions in New Zealand; one in Napier and the other Murrays Bay.
The majority of the team and coach Orestes Reyes left NZ shores at the end of May, with the intention to compete in the Spring Cup (pre-worlds regatta) held the beginning of June, at the same location as the World Championships.
The boys acclimatised to the time zone, and warm temperatures quickly. Orestes has coached at 7 international championships so has accumulated over the years some great connections and relationships. Our sailors therefore have benefited greatly from this and have so far enjoyed training with some of the top optimist sailors in the world.
The conditions have been consistent most days with a lot of sea breeze conditions ranging from 6 -20 knots.
A break from training encountered a day completely away from the camp. This was well spent by a trip to Barcelona where the team visited an adventure park that really took the boys minds off sailing and took in compelling vistas of the city, whilst going on a variety of rides.
The icing on the cake was a guided tour around the Alinghi Red Bull Racing base by our Country Manager Dean Barker. The tour kicked off with getting up close to the two AC40’s, followed by climbing on board the AC75; BoatZero, where a team of Swiss sailors who are new to sailing an AC75 will be mentored by Dean and Pietro Sibello. Next stop on the tour, the team took in the high-tech design room finishing off with the grand finale by trying out their sailing skills on the AC75 simulator.
Even though talked about in past international regattas, the boys have quickly learnt for themselves that their starts need work, something that Orestes has focussed on leading up to the Worlds. The kiwis remain fast, with good sound tactics, and spent the final week training with other countries, with some teams racing scheduled in.
Team NZL were appointed an early measurement slot due to our early arrival, which proved a long and challenging process. The team encountered a number of different issues, albeit well prepared; two of the charter boats had been incorrectly assigned so had to be swapped over. One of the boats mast collar needed to be replaced. Two of the boats were underweight so had to have additional weight added. A tow line was below the required diameter and another boat with illegal buoyancy bag straps. The upside was that the boys handled the situation well and worked together as a team when having to strip boats of equipment and swap over.
The eve of the championship, the team did some gentle exercise and stretches, and ended the day with the 54 countries coming together to celebrate the opening of the Optimist World Championship. The New Zealand sailors were invited to the stage to perform the Haka, led by Isaac which was well received.
In essence, the boys are taking it all in their stride, the experiences they are encountering both on and off the water and creating some great memories.
We will update you again with how they went at the Worlds’.
Juliet Bridger | Team Leader