'One-hundred and eighty five of the most highly qualified Optimist sailors from 18 countries across the Americas and Caribbean have registered to participate in this ten day youth sailing event. Selected sailors will have completed a series of rigorous team trials in order to qualify to compete on behalf of their country for the championship,' says regatta coordinator, Marie ILES, of Regatta Promoters, Ltd.
Countries registered to attend the championship include Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, Dominican Republic, USA, Martinique/Guadeloupe, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, US Virgin Islands, Canada, Bequia/St. Vincent, Argentina, Guatemala and Venezuela.
Competitors, who are 10- to 15-year-old girls and boys, will complete a series of twelve races over one course during the event for the title of 2005 Optimist North American Champion.
Qualifying sailors will also have the opportunity to compete on behalf of their country in the Team Racing Championship. 'One day of the regatta will be given over to this popular racing format which involves teams of individual sailors working together to use strategic manoeuvres to outwit their opponents during a series of fast paced races,' ILES says.
This is the first time since the Championship was started in 1976 that it is being held in the Caribbean. The popularity of Tobago as a sporting and tourist destination has encouraged record registrations from competitors making this year's event the biggest Optimist North American Championship to take place in recent history.
Both the Government and Tobago House of Assembly have given their support to the regatta along with a number of local companies including, Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (TSTT), the Official Communications Provider for the Championship, Illuminat, Hewlett Packard, Coca Cola and Hilton Tobago.
The Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association, with the support of the government, intend to use the publicity generated by the event to promote national participation in youth sailing. They envision this will take place throughout the coastal areas of Trinidad and Tobago via the development of a series of satellite sailing centres where children can learn to sail at little cost to themselves. Work is scheduled begin on the creation of the new sailing centres in September 2005.