HKSF organizes largest Optimist Nationals in the History of the Boat Class in Hong Kong
Event Co-Sponsored by Hong Kong Schools Sailing Association (HKSSA) and Hong Kong Optimist Dinghy Association (HKODA) (Hong Kong) Ninety junior optimist sailors from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Macau took their places on the start line in what was a record event at the Hong Kong Optimist Nationals 2014. The event was organised by the Hong Kong Sailing Federation (HKSF) and co-organized by the Hong Kong Optimist Dinghy Association (HKODA) and the Hong Kong Schools Sailing Association (HKSSA), with the support of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. The Nationals took place on November 22 and 23 at the HKSSA facilities in Tai Mei Tuk in Hong Kong’s used Territories. The event was held with the assistance of Hong kong Sea School, Jockey Club Ti-I College and established sailing school J-Asia. Proximity to local sailing sites in the used Territories ensured the event would be well-attended by sailors who live far away from the established sailing club facilities located on Hong Kong island, and which were traditional venues for Nationals held in the past. This was also the first time a class event was held jointly by Hong Kong’s different sailing groups, and it showcased what could be done when different groups cooperated to make things happen.
Two days of competition saw a total of seven races sailed, all with challenging, shifty, wind conditions and with average speeds of between 6-10 knots. Conditions presented a whole range of circumstances that tested the boat handling and racing skills of future champions and Olympic hopefuls. Due to the unprecedented number of Opti sailors on the water, the entire fleet was split in to four divisions, with different configurations for each race. Youth sailors learnt quickly that there was no rest for the weary- as in high-level regattas in other parts of the world, a single point could spell the difference between a medal place and going home empty-handed. In the end, it was Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s (RHKYC) veteran Opti Sailor Calum Gregor who came away with third Nationals Gold, with teammate Thorwen Uiterwaal capturing silver. and fellow RHKYC sailor Dolf Hendrickson taking the bronze.
HKSS’S Yan Tsz Fung and J-Asia’s Faolan Whyte, tied in points, were 4th and 5th place respectively. Faolan took additional honours by winning the top spot for the under 12s; RHKYC’s Oriane Voets was named champion in the under 10s division. The event is critical for Hong Kong’s Opti sailors, as it also counts as one of the Hong Kong Sailing Federation’s key selection trial. These trials determine which sailors will be nominated to nationals squad and who will represent Hong Kong Sailing in the coming oversees events in 2015.
For more information on Hong Kong Sailing Federation: www.sailing.org.hk