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26 July 2005, 11:54 am
Counting Down To The Start
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Optimist World Championship 2005
Lake Silvaplana, Engadin, Switzerland

With racing starting on Thursday in the Optimist World Championship on Lake Silvaplana, Engadin, Switzerland, the next two days are occupied by measurement and practice.
Measurement involving 242 boats is a major exercise. Four ISAF International Measurers with the help of local volunteers are scrutineering all hulls and equipment and aiming to conduct full measurement on a randomly selected hull from each manufacturer represented. For each team the process takes less than an hour but for the measurers it is four days of intense work.

The equipment presented explains some of the popularity of the Optimist class. 94 of the sailors, mostly non-European, will use charter boats supplied by the Danish builder Winner at a cost of US$480. The remainder of the fleet have brought their own Optimists, built by maybe 20 of the 30+ approved builders. Such is the strict one-design of the class that every sailor, chartering or not, can be confident that his boat is just like every other boat in the fleet.

At the recent European championship twelve builders had boats in the top 20 boys and girls - details can be found on the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) website.

No one doubts that any of the other builders could have been on the list if the helms of their boats had had better luck. Over half those using their own boats had bought them in their own or a neighbouring country so, for example, if Scandinavian sailors are performing well Scandinavian boats will feature on the leaderboard.

Meanwhile on the beautiful Silvaplana the 52 teams are trying to come to terms with lake conditions including the famous Majola wind. Motor boats are prohibited so coaches have borrowed an assortment of sailboats and even boards. But once racing starts even these will be banned and coaches are being supplied with bicycles to follow the fortunes of their teams. There is talk of modifying the RRS to govern the right of way when two bikes are on a collision course!

Robert Wilkes (As Amended By ISAF)
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