Reported in the latest issue of OptiWorld, the Optimist International Class Bulletin, the IODA development programme is gaining strength as six new countries have started or upgraded Optimist fleets in recent months.
A specific mention must be made to the Polish Optimist Association, who have recently reported possibly the best sponsorship agreement at this level of the sport in recent months.
Following a trial run in 2002, Nivea, manufacturers of skin care products, will be sponsoring 300 Optimists for school use, the top 20 Polish National Squad, and ten regattas at both National and School level.
Following the breakdown of sports funding as a result of the withdrawal of state funding in much of Eastern Europe, this sponsorship represents a huge breakthrough in Poland, with access to boats and access to the sport improved greatly due to the assistance of Nivea.
In Nicaragua, with the assistance of a supplier of marine ply as a sponsor, 10 wood/epoxy hulls were built, which were then equipped with rigs via the assistance of the International Optimist Association (IODA) development programme. There followed a two-week training camp, with Argentinian Coach, Gonzalo "Bocha" Pollitzer, in which children from varying backgrounds, some of whom could not swim, were given the opportunity at Optimist Sailing.
Plans for 2003 are to build a further twelve boats and establish similar projects in El Salvador and Costa Rica.
A similar, if not even more dramatic story evolved in Sri Lanka, where 5 boats have been available for a number of years. Five more boats were supplied and as success breeds success, eleven brand new boats were acquired through extensive fundraising. IODA gave a subsidy to this scheme helping to fund seventeen new sails, which enable the country to have a three level training scheme.
Sri Lanka are now looking for help to train in-house instructors.