The 2008 Optimist World Championships concluded last week in Cesme, Turkey with 15 races completed by the 250 sailors from 53 nations.
In general opinion his has been one of the great Optimist championships with four races in lighter winds and eleven in heavier being an excellent test of all-round skills. The race committee, headed by Orhan Tüker and aided by the two IROs - Alen Kustic and Luis Ormaechea - did a great job. The Altinyunus hotel was comfortable and the shore personnel team headed by Neylan Gunay excellent.
2008 was the year of Caribbean sailors, even more than 2007 belonged to New Zealand. Raul Rios (PUR), already North American champion, won with two races to go and good results in all wind conditions. Ian Barrows (ISV), still with two years left in the Class, can be proud of his silver. Puerto Rico won the exciting team-racing final and USVI took bronze. To cap it all Puerto Rico also won the Miami Herald Trophy for the team with the lowest cumulative points of the best four sailors. Bronze was taken by Kristien Kirketerp (DEN) just one point ahead of Mathias Derren.
The girls' podium was very much of an Asian affair. Tomoyo Wakabayashi (JPN) was top girl in 5th place over-all, while Rachel Lee (SIN) had a superb last day to take silver ahead of Lu Yu Ting (CHN). Noppakao Poonpat (THA) was fourth. Shelley White of Australia posted the best Worlds result ever from her country which only recently started to participate.
The leaderboard showed again the diversity of the Class with nine countries in the top ten.
The young sailors were here for the racing. It was great and the atmosphere in the dinghy park and hotel was exceptionally warm with the usual improbable friendships being formed between young people who might have little in common but for the sport they love.