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2 January 2007, 11:46 am
Worlds Underway
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Optimist World Championship 2006
Montevideo, Uruguay

Two races were held on the opening day of the 2006 Optimist World Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay. Julian AUTENRIETH (GER) seized the initiative with a double bullet start.
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Wind strengths varied between 10 and 12 knots, going lighter towards the end of race 2.

Unfortunately this led to 'bunching' which has adversely affected the publication of results but as at midnight local time the highlights are:

AUTENRIETH, the best placed in 2005 of the sailors eligible this year, started well to register two bullets. Race 1a saw the beginning of what may be an epic struggle for the girls' prize. Stephanie ZIMMERMANN (PER) won the race with Asian silver medallist Griselda KHNG (SIN) in 9th place. Since both are in the white division this contest has a long way to go. South American girls' champion Arianna VILLENA (ECU) was 30th.

50 Nations Compete

Fifty countries are represented in Montevideo by some 230 sailors in the 2006 International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) World Sailing Championship.

The championship is a major exercise. All Optimists are supplied (by Rio Tecna in neighbouring Argentina) and all teams, with a maximum of five sailors and three adults, will be accommodated in the Radisson Hotel. The International Jury includes 12 International Judges, race management will be supervised by two IROs and measurement by three IMs. Major development work has been undertaken by the host Yacht Club Uruguayo which celebrates its centenary this year and a big team of volunteers will be giving up their Christmas break to ensure a successful event.

The great turnout is a massive increase on the last time, 14 years ago, that the Worlds were also at Christmas, also in South America (in Mar del Plata, Argentina) when there were just 133 sailors from 29 countries.

Looking back at 1992 almost 10% of the sailors went on to become Olympians. Most notably this was one of the 'Saltonstall years' when the foundations were laid for British Olympic domination. Present were future medallists Ben AINSLIE (just four years later!), Chris DRAPER and Nick ROGERS. Also a future medallist was Iker MARTINEZ (ESP). Nine others have already been to the Games and several more are well placed for selection for 2008.

Robert Wilkes (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The Optimists take to the water on the opening day of the World Championship:© Manlio Ferrari
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