Australians improving – best finish yet at Optimist Worlds

Because each country can send only five sailors to compete at this prestigious event , the Australian team comprised the top five sailors at the 2009 Australian National Championship: Doug Campbell (WA), Mark Spearman (WA), Lloyd Collings (Vic) Paris Stowell (WA) and James Brewer (NSW).

(The Miami Herald trophy-winner is the country that scores the lowest points by adding up the top 4 placed sailors points scored in the individual competition)
The Teams Racing World Champion-winner is the country team that wins the elimination competition 4 boats on 4 boats, all countries compete over 2 days. 2 losses and that country is eliminated.
Individual World Champion-Open
Individual World Champion-Boys
Individual World Champion-Girls

This year the competition was held in Niteroi Bay, Rio de Janero, Brazil, in August. Massive granite hills circled most of the bay creating varied conditions and switching patchy winds to really test all competitors. The positive effect of this was the opportunity to catch up from a bad start or first beat to a score that was worthy of keeping. However, the reverse was also true, sailors in the front end of the fleet had to sail conservatively.
Pre-Regatta Training
Australia were one of the earliest teams to arrive (seven days before). The earliest were Peru and Singapore. Accommodation was basic, but neat and tidy, and the corridor to the accommodation soon became known as Opti Ghetto! All of the nationalities used it as a meeting place after sailing.
Early morning team training sessions for 30-40 minutes were followed by breakfast then on water for 2-4 hours. Dinner, chats with friends and meeting the other teams made up most of each day before the regatta.
On water, the sessions consisted of racing against 1-3 other countries on set-up race courses, testing various parts of the bay, and speed against the others. This usually was followed by a teams racing session against another country. Testing was done against Singapore, Argentina, Peru, USA, South Africa and a few others.
The training conditions were a mix of light and shifty breezes and one beautiful day of 10-15 knots.
The charter boats were great. All the team members had new sails for the event. Four of the team used j sails (from Poland) and one, James Brewer, used a Brewer sail.
The facilities at the club were excellent- pool, tennis courts, volley ball courts, sauna.
In particular, the boat launching and retrieval system was very efficient, the parents didn't even get their feet wet! (Quite a change from Mandurah for the WA Sailors.)
The day before the event was scheduled as a day off to get full recuperation ready for the long and intense main championship. Some went sightseeing/shopping, others rested by the pool.

Day 1
The 1st day started with a practice race, (mainly for the race committee to test the system) and as usual the competitors enjoyed the day – some by starting half way up the beat, or even at the top mark. James almost sailed between the hulls of one of the large ferries that traversed the course in the practice race! This was rectified by the Navy using three patrol boats to keep ferries off the course area during racing.
The practice race was followed by the opening ceremony with a parade which was the shortest on record (the last teams had almost not started when the first ones arrived at the flag raising venue.)

The Parade was a big hit with the kids, and Doug Campbell had the honour of raising the Australian Flag to the National Anthem. The speeches in Portuguese were also kept as short as the parade, and everyone headed off for the opening ceremony party.

The first race day fizzed out with no wind! Tensions heightened!

Day 2 proved to be a tough day with light, 2-6 knot patchy, switchy winds.
3 races were completed The Aussies had a difficult day but the highlight was a 9th place from Lloyd, James was top Aussie at the end of the day coming 110 overall.
Malaysia had a fantastic start to the regatta and at the end of the day were sitting first and second overall. The Aussie sailors had raced them in Singapore and were well aware at how well they perform in these light breezes.

Day 3 proved to be another tough day. Light, 2-6 knot patchy, switchy winds.
Two races were completed. The Aussies sailors were hanging in there, most of the time around mid fleet. Sailors from Malaysia, Peru and Thailand dominated the day by picking the pressure bands and shifts very well.
Overall, Doug in 111, James 113, Lloyd 120, Mark 180, Paris 201.

Day 4 – Teams Racing. The individual event was put on hold for the team racing event to proceed. Optimist team racing involves four boats per team. Seedings are based on the first five races, with AUS seeded 32. It's similar to tennis where the top seeds race the lowest until it gets through to the final. The top eight teams get a bye in the first race. As soon as a country has two losses they are out of the event.

The wind was better for the teams racing, unfortunately the Aussies were out in straight sets. The first match was against Argentina, it was close but the Aussies lost. In the second match against Denmark the Aussies were winning comfortably with a 1,2, 4, 7, but lost by not waiting for them to make the move and a costly foul on the finish line. Two losses and its out!

The second day of teams racing was very exciting to watch, light winds for three matches in the morning, then 6-12 knots late afternoon for many more races, until 40-60kn squalls came through (in middle of Thailand/Argentina match, the small Thais were going well in 8kn, until 30kn hit on the second reach, and the bigger Argentinians loaded up and “smoked em”). The race finished, but the squalls had lifted to 50kn ++ and mast steps broke and five boats had thwarts ripped out and there were many other breakages across the fleet. Luckily our boats were tucked up on the hard stand although the sail and kit lockers were also being blown over there.

The rest day was used for the teams racing finals due to the high winds the day before.

The Aussie team took the Aus/Bermuda/RSA spectator boat touring around the bay until the wind came in enough for the teams finals to start, and we anchored in a good vantage point to watch the finals.

Singapore did well to finish 3rd, again racing was held up waiting for wind. The final was between China and the favourites Peru. China won the first 2 rounds. In the third race, China got out of the blocks well for a 1,2, 7, 8 scoreline, but needed to get at least one of their 7/8 places up one spot to win the round and the World Championship.

They all sailed until the last bottom mark, where the top two Chinese bore away after rounding to put pressure on the Peru 3 and 4, and help their backmarkers get into striking distance to a 5/6 place. The tactics worked, and the top two covered the top Peruvians very closely, but never at any stage did they look like giving up the 1-2 places.

China finished 1, 2, 4 to win the match and the Teams Racing world Championships to lots of cheers from the crowds and spectator boats.

On shore in good Chinese tradition a lot of firecrackers were let off in celebration.

Day 4 of Individual Racing
A better day, and as it turned out the only decent breeze of the whole individual event. A nice southerly 6-10 knots building in the last race to 12 knots. The Aussies were happier today, with decent wind and some much better results, James a 7th, a 14th sitting in the 80's overall,   Paris a 22 and a 13th (+ an OCS),  Mark a 20th and a 30th,   Lloyd a 25th  Doug a 25th and a few tough ones.
Once again very shifty, but more solid breeze, still light patches. With the size of the hill to the left, and the gap in the hills the breeze gets moved around a lot. Still there are many kids who have worked it out, and the standard of sailing at the top end of the fleet is absolutely incredible, and seems to improve every year. The trusty skipper Marshvello and his boss cooked up a treat for the punters today on the good spectator ship Minnow hosting a few of the Aussies, Bermuda, RSA, Mexico and NZ. Most skipped dinner that night after the Brazilian BBQ on the back of the boat while watching the sailing.

The IODA AGM was held that morning with some fantastic news from the voting:
1.NZ (Napier) won the vote to host the 2011 worlds (31 Dec Start)
2.Australia won the vote to host the 2010 Oceania Championships (combined with our Australian National Championships in Adelaide in January 2010)
3.Thailand won the vote for the Asians in 2010 (3-11 July) Australia gets to select seven for this event.


Last 2 days of racing provided better winds. Four races were completed and the Aussies improved a lot.

James closed out the event with a bad race, followed by a fine 14th, 11th, and 35th (was 6th at the gate and picked the wrong side for the last work) and topped the Aussie contingent with an excellent 80th overall. (This result is the best ever for an Australian at a Worlds). His performance included some spectacular recoveries from 55th at the bottom gate mark up to get the 14th. Paris' second last day was solid with a 13, 16, 23 (she also showed excellent recovery techniques), and final race on the last day a 48th, ending up 121 overall.

Lloyd's penultimate day was nice with 4th, 29 and 50th. Unfortunately an OCS on the last race to finish 122 overall.Mark had a great finish to the regatta with 28, 50, 29, 24 to end up 139th overall.Doug was a few points behind to be 142nd overall with a 26th in the final race.

The results demonstrate a high number of OCSs – in the 36 races started (three flights of 70 boats per race) only one was recalled. With video tape at both ends of the line, the race officers would OCS up to 17 boats in the event. In the old days if your boat was a little hidden you could get away with being slightly over! No more. I flags (meaning go round the end of the start line if over one minute before) were brutal if you were over. These were used for every start.

This is the best ever result for an Aussie team in the Miami Herald Trophy (best 4 sailors scores count).The Miami Herald Trophy was proudly won by Malaysia. (They will be defending their trophy at home in 2010.)
The Individual open and boy's regatta was won by Sinclair Jones from Peru. Noppakao Poonpat, from Thailand won the Girls event.

Full results available at

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