The fourth edition of the Euromed Malta Championship year kicked off this afternoon when the Hon. Minister of Youth and Sport, Jesmond MUGLIETT MP officially inaugurated the new Clubhouse of the Malta Young Sailors Club at Tax-Xama, St Paul's Bay.
This new clubhouse brings to a reality the dream of all young sailors in Malta made possible by the vision and support of the Hon. Mr Mugliett from the time when he was Parliamentary Secretary for Youth & Sport & Culture.
This year's Euromed - with racing being held from 18-21 December - is expected to be a bumper one indeed, and the organisers are expecting to see over 100 sailing boats on the start line for this year's four day edition. "Thanks to the tireless efforts of the organising committee, this year is going to be the biggest and hopefully the best Euromed Malta Championship yet"
said Mr. John RIPARD the Commodore of the Malta Young Sailors Club. "This is the first time we extend the event to other classes apart from the Optimist Class, and in particular we host the Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and Laser Standard Classes as well as the Optimist Cadet and Optimist Open"
he added. Once again, he explained, the Optimist Class will be divided into the Cadet Class and the Open Class.
Mr Ripard explained that the International response has been overwhelming "such that we anticipate to have over 65 Optimists (the largest number ever so far), and 35 Lasers - in other words, we expect to have over 100 sailing dinghies taking part in Malta's only International Dinghy sailing event".
The sailors hail from ten countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, United Arab Emirates and Malta. There are 37 foreign Optimist sailors and 32 Maltese Optimist sailors taking part in the two classes. In the Laser class there are 14 foreigners and 21 Maltese sailors. Racing will be controlled by an International Jury Panel hailing from Greece, Italy, Switzerland and Malta.
A full list of participants and other information and racing results will be published on a daily basis on the Club's website via the link below. The site has been re-released this year and includes new features particularly in the EUROMED section.
Mr. Jovin RAUSI, chairman of the Euromed organising committee, said that due to the fact that the participants started arriving in Malta from the 13 December, it has been possible to release the charter boats early to allow foreign teams to use their boats for their own training clinics. This has given the teams the opportunity for an action packed week combining intensive training in the beginning with a competitive regatta in the end.
This will reflect favourably on the keenness of the championship results as pre-event knowledge of wind and sea conditions in the racing area promises to create a good challenge for all participants, especially the Maltese sailors, fresh from their recent Medal success at the Games of the Small States of Europe. As a matter of fact, young Malta champion Benji BORG will have to defend his Gold medal and his fifth position in the European Championship this summer in Croatia very strongly. In fact, this could easily come from Croatia's own Tajiana GANIC, who placed second in the European championships. Her father, Rejko, is the coach of the well known sailing club Fraglia della Vela of Lago di Garda. Another strong contender is expected to be Dutch girl Nina KEIJZER, the 2002 National Champion, who will be sailing a Nordest boat, the same kind that the organisers have brought over for this year's Euromed.
Unfortunately Rebecca HARDING, the Swedish and Nordic champion, who was coming over again for the fourth time to the Euromed, had to cancel out. This would have been her last year sailing in the Optimist class. This happens all too often as a matter of consequence as the young sailors grow older (and heavier) than the Optimist class limitations permit. In fact, the Malta Young Sailors are, for the first year, also be launching some of their "older" sailors in the Laser class, promoted from the Optimists.... a new class for the club.
The Malta Young Sailors Club, explained Mr. Rausi, has been assisted by Air Malta in providing a wide European network at attractive airfares, the Mistra Village Holiday Complex as the accommodation venue for the event and Medex Container Services Ltd for providing free container transport for shipping the dinghies to be used during the event.