UPDATE: Final overall winner for the JSA Opti Championship at Riverside Yacht Club was Max Anker.
Original story, Aug. 9:
Young sailors, ages 9-15, from across the Connecticut coast sailed around Long Island Sound on Sunday during the first part of a two-day event, the 2015 Optimist Championships of the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound (JSA of LIS). And the weather could not have been better.
Qualified entrants from approximately 40 clubs and sailing programs that are members of the JSA competed in the regatta. They contended in single-handed Optimist dinghies. Junior sailors around the globe learn to sail in the 7-foot 9-inch Optis, constituting the largest youth racing class in the world.
In addition to providing first-class competition, the RYC regatta committee designed the event to be an educational experience on environmental care. Guided event chairman Gregg Clark, the regatta was conducted in accordance with the standards of a Gold Level Clean Regatta.
“We aren’t supplying disposable water bottles, we’re not using any paper plates or plastic utensils, there’s a compost bin, and we’ve set up porta potties. Also, competitors are being given backpacks made of recycled material,” Clark said. “It’s a great way to open eyes and make a difference — especially at events like these, it all adds up.”
In support of this environmental focus, SoundWaters set up a booth at the event to provide education on clean regattas and how to protect Long Island Sound.
In addition to just under 200 competitors on Sunday, of which 10% were from RYC, there were about 100 spectators, coaches and support personnel. Off the water, the sailors were able to socialize at meals, in the swimming pool and at the awards ceremony.
In fact, the event was so big that Clark created an app for it — it’s downloadable at the Apple App Store. There’s also a Twitter account, a Facebook account and an Instagram account with regatta information, live action updates, results and photos.
“It’s an honor to be hosting this event, so the committee went all out,” said Richard Walker, who helped organize the regatta.
To keep track of all of the sailors, the committee also made an “RYC Safety Check” board. Each participant received a safety bracelet at registration, which they were responsible for throughout the duration of the event. Upon launching, each sailor took their bracelet number off the safety board. Then, upon returning to shore, each sailor was in charge of placing the safety bracelet on the corresponding number on the board, indicating their safe return. Volunteers manned the safety board and boats on the water, making sure all the competitors were safe and accounted for.
Aiden “Buzz” Iaconis, who had just returned his safety bracelet and was rolling up his sail, said the water conditions were ideal for the event.
“The wind was perfect — not too much and not too little. And that’s important,” Iaconis said.
Nicky Souter, RYC Sailing Director, who arrived from Australia 15 months ago, also vouched for that. “It was a great day all in all. It’s been smooth sailing,” she said.
Full results for the 2015 Optimist Championships of the JSA of LIS can be found on the RYC JSA Opti Championship Regatta page.