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2020 Optimist European Championship officially opened in Portorož, Slovenia

by Jakica Jesih and Blaž Oman 20 Oct 2020 11:57 BST 18-25 October 2020
2020 Optimist European Championship officially opened © Jakica Jesih and Blaž Oman

Moments ago, the IODA flag was hoisted by two Slovenian Olympic sailors Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol at the Opening Ceremony to mark the official opening of the 2020 Optimist European Championship in Portorož, Slovenia.

2020 has been a challenging year also for the world's sailing. Most of the organizers were forced to cancel their events, and the formerly selected 2020 Optimist European Championship in Estonia was no exception. Due to the Corona-pandemic, the host decided to withdraw their June event. IODA found itself in a difficult situation of finding a replacement venue on such short notice, and the Slovenian Pirat Sailing Club seemed to be the best option.

Carmen Casco, IODA VP Europe: "IODA, therefore, had to call again for submissions to host the championship. Amongst the many applying countries, Slovenia seemed to be the best application in this difficult time! Mitja Margon, president of Pirat Sailing Club and his very experienced team, have managed to set it all up, not only in record time but also in a professional way, despite these extraordinary times we are experiencing everywhere in the world. For sure this European Championship is going to be different than any of the previous events but for sure it is going to be an unforgettable one."

Mitja Margon, Pirat Sailing Club president: "Big thanks to all of you, to IODA for trusting us with this event, the country representatives, all the participants, kids and of course the parents who supported them to come here and are cheering from home, and some from here. Big thanks also to our club members, all the partners, sponsors, Piran municipality and the Slovenian Sailing Federation for helping us organizing this event. I'm wishing all the sailors fair winds and let the best sailor win."

269 sailors from 34 countries, including Brazil, Thailand and Hong Kong, China, managed to arrive in Slovenia for what may be the only international European event for the Opties this year. They are all eager to race, although racing, unfortunately, is not the only thing on their minds. All the teams, including the young sailors, were kindly asked to comply with all the necessary risk mitigation Covid-19 safety measures, from wearing masks to social distancing. It's great to see how well the measures are being respected.

The first two races are scheduled for tomorrow. Boys and girls race in separate fleets - there are three fleets of boys and two fleets of girls, all approximately the same number of sailors. The new Optimist European Girl and Boy Champions will officially be crowned on Saturday, October 24th. Three races need to be completed for the championship to be valid.

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