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Future Volvo Sailors shine in Optis

 

 

With Waitemata Harbour racing for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet just a week away on Saturday and the race restart on Sunday 15th March, it was time for future Volvo sailors to chance their arm on the waters off the Viaduct Basin.

 

Thirty-two young Optimist sailors from sailing clubs throughout New Zealand got their feet wet at the Volvo Ocean Race Academy this weekend in an educational and sporting programme staged around team racing.

 

The youth sailing initiative launched in 2011 marks the continuation of the Volvo Ocean Race’s commitment to youth sailing worldwide. Its competitive pinnacle is the Academy Team Racing Series in Optimist dinghies in each of the host ports.

 

Here in Auckland the Volvo Ocean Race organisers stage the event in conjunction with the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA).

 

“The aim of the clinic is for the participants to meet other sailors from around the country and to get the Volvo experience through team racing. We want them to take what they learn here and share it with their local clubs” Haslett said.

 

Participants were organised into eight teams of four sailors mixed up by region and club affiliations. The teams adopted the names of Volvo Ocean Race race boats and got a sailing team crew sponsor member to coach their efforts.

 

In team racing, two teams of four boats race against each other at a time with the skipper of each singlehanded dinghy employing tactical and sailing skills to insure that their four-boat team scores the highest points. After three round robins the top four boats compete in a quarter-final, then semi-finals and final.

 

“The whole aim is not to win as much as it’s to do well and learn throughout the clinic so we have 32 sailors ending up with the same set of skills as the four on the podium,” Haslett noted.

 

The day started with a welcome from Kiwi Darryl Wislang, boat captain and pit man aboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and a former Opti sailor like many of the sailors on the VOR crews.

 

Sergio Dominguez the Spanish manager of the VOR Academy noted that the experience included brief clinics for the young sailors. There were also continuing clinics for umpires to teach and sharpen their team race skills.

 

A sailor from the age of six Dominguez first sailed on a Whitbread Race (precursor to the VOR) when he was ten, with his Optimist coach who was a crewmember.

 

This edition of the race will put a total of 20,000 youngsters on the water worldwide, if only briefly, he noted. That’s a combination of the Volvo Academy programme and the Volvo Sailing … Have a Go! experience that is available to all comers daily here in Auckland on the inner Viaduct Basin thanks to Yachting New Zealand and its volunteers.

 

On Saturday night the Volvo Ocean Race hosted a barbeque in the Boatyard for all participating in the Academy experience.

 

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