A total of ten races, each lasting approximately an hour, are due to be sailed in the course of the event, with some 50 boats due to participate in each race. Being sailed for the 51st year in succession, the Enterprise Worlds are the largest water sport championship ever to be sailed in Sri Lanka.
With high winds and heavy seas forecast for Negombo in the next few days, launching the boats off the beach alone is likely to prove risky for all but the most experienced sailors. Nevertheless, the challenging weather conditions are expected to make for exciting sailing, giving onshore spectators a glimpse of sailing at its best.
Sri Lanka is fielding eight boats in the Championship, six of which are drawn from the Navy Sailing Club, a mainstay of sailing in Sri Lanka. The remaining two are expected to be sailed by Asian Games bronze medallist Lalin JIRASINHA, with his 16 year old son, Akshan, an experienced Optimist sailor, helming an Enterprise in an international event for the first time.
JIRASINHA's bronze winning crew, J. P. K. JANAKA, will be participating with the Navy sailing team. Doyen of Sri Lankan sailing, former Asian Games silver medallist Ray WIJEWARDENE too, is expected to be present at many of the races.
Despite their high standard of sailing, the Sri Lankan sailors are challenged by being experienced mainly in sailing in the calmer conditions of Bolgoda Lake, where the Ceylon Motor Yacht Club is based.
The membership of the CMYC is largely responsible for organizing the event under the aegis of the Yachting Association of Sri Lanka. 'The official class of boat at the CMYC is the GP-14,' says Former Commodore of CMYC Joseph KENNY, who is also the President of Yachting Association of Sri Lanka. 'Only a few of our members sail Enterprise dinghies. Therefore we have had better opportunities to focus on facilitating the championship and providing logistics?'
The Enterprise Worlds had originally been billed to be sailed in Sri Lanka in February 2005, but the event was postponed in the wake of the tsunami. 'The postponement was a blessing in disguise,' says KENNY.
'This year, the event has won personal support from President RAJAPAKSE, who has taken a close interest in sailing ever since he casually happened to meet the national Optimist youth sailing about a year ago en route to an official visit to Myanmar.
'We are also gratified that the Minister of Sports, Jeevan KUMARATUNGA has extended his ministry's fullest support to the event. With official support on this scale, I can see a bright future for sailing in Sri Lanka.'