A young South African Optimist team have just arrived in Argentina to compete at the 2014 Optimist World Championship which starts on Wednesday.
The racing in this year’s championship will be held off the coast of San Isidro just south of Buenos Aires, where 213 competitors from 51 countries will compete for the world title.
The five SA sailors selected to represent South Africa are: Jemima Baum, Alexander Brooks, Elsje Dijkstra, Campbell Tiley and Arin Long. Philip Baum will act as manager and Dave Hudson as coach. With an average age of 13, the SA team is likely to be one of the youngest competing in this Under 16 World Championship, and the experience gained in big-fleet racing will stand these sailors in very good stead in the years to come.
The regatta will run for eight days starting from October 22-29.
“For me it’s been going really well and I think I’ve improved a lot,” said Brooks. “What happened was we had a nationals and you had to get a good place in that and also the selections, which was the next regatta, and I managed to get in the top five for both regattas to qualify for the worlds team.”
Teammate Dijksta added: “Since selections we’ve had quite a lot of training. Every weekend we’ve been out on the water so it’s been quite hectic but we’ve been training quite hard and we’re ready for worlds.”
Coach Hudson reckoned that while top results may be tricky this time round, his young team can benefit greatly from this trip to Argentina. “The training has gone pretty well. It is a young team. This team have between one, two and three World Championships to go so there’s plenty of time to build on the experience they’ll get this time around. It’s all about gaining experience and building a foundation.”