On a day when wild weather forced the abandonment of the practice race for the 420 Worlds, the wild theme continued at a boisterous and friendly welcome and opening ceremony.
More than 300 sailors, plus support crews and coaching staff, filled Fremantle Sailing Club’s Sunset Deck to overflowing. Large contingents from France, Spain and Italy were particularly enthusiastic, with New Zealand and Australian contingents not far behind.
A procession of eighteen participating nations began boisterously and became more so as sailors belted out their traditional battle cries and anthems.
Reaching the formal Sunset Deck stage, sailors had to be herded away from the stage to allow a group of indigenous dancers to perform traditional dances to the eerie sound of a very well played didgeridoo. A hilarious attempt by a number of invited competitors from different countries to emulate the dance troupe drew well natured laughter from their peers. Freda Ogilvie, representing the local Noongah people performed a traditional welcome to country, translating Noongah language to English.
Given the boisterous response to the procession, it might have been a frantic rush to the dining room, but a surprisingly orderly group made the transition from the Sunset Deck to the Wardroom for a sit down welcome dinner, where Olympic gold medallist Belinda Stowell-Brett, former world match racing champion Peter Gilmour and 470 champion Carrie Smith all addressed the sailors while they enjoyed a superb meal.
So what began as a disappointing day due to wild weather ended as a most enjoyable beginning to a World Championship with over the top enthusiasm, great camaraderie between nations and a wild celebration.
It augurs well for a thoroughly entertaining World Championship at Fremantle.