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11 July 2006, 12:52 pm
LEE Crowned Champion
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Optimist North American Championship 2006
Ponce, Puerto Rico

Amongst the 189 competitors from a record 22 countries, Singapore's Sean LEE dominated the Optimist North American Championships in Ponce, Puerto Rico from start to finish with a near flawless performance. Venezuela's Victor DÍAZ and Puerto Rico's Iván APONTE (PUR) also had superb regattas to take the silver and bronze medals, with APONTE also claiming the North American title.
In addition to the North American countries in Puerto Rico, there was a strong contingent of teams from South America, with the addition of a team each from Germany, New Zealand and Singapore. Singapore's 15 year old LEE proved the star of the show, scoring eight bullet out of twelve races. With a maximum of two discards, he finished the championship with a score of 16 points.

For the sailors of the New Zealand second team (none of their Worlds team were present) there was the satisfaction of justifying the special invitations, which had been intended to three non-American teams agreed by the North American countries last year, in order to strengthen the level of competition (who says Optimist parents are selfish?). They certainly did that with two top ten places.

Peru Take Team Title

In the team racing event, gusty winds at the start of the competition calmed to a light six to seven knots after a rain squall blew through the area just before noon. 16 teams participated in the team racing, with Peru emerging victorious to retain their firm grip on the Team Racing Championship, followed by Singapore second and Argentina third.

Trinidad showed that the 2005 Worlds silver of Matthew SCOTT was not an isolated success and Arianna VILLENA of Ecuador showed again the strength of girls sailing in her country.

There was satisfaction too for the organizers. The Ponce Yacht & Fishing Club has never organiszed an event of this size and complexity and did a wonderful job. As one of the International Jury commented, 'The kids - myself included - had a ball!'

Meanwhile Andrew SANDERS, Executive Director of Singapore Sailing Federation, was understandably delighted, 'Winning the IODA South American and North American Championships are good indicators of our intentions to develop the World's best optimist sailors. Optimist is the boat widely used internationally and is a good breeding ground for future Olympians. It's been a good week for SingaporeSailing having won four championships in one week and now another continental championship. July's a busy month with our eight strong team about to commence racing at the ISAF Youth World Championships in three [now one - Ed] days' time.'

Shu Fen HO/Robert WILKES (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Action from Puerto Rico:© Puerto Rico Optimist Dinghy Association
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