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2020 Optimist European Championship at Portorož, Slovenia - Day 1

by International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) 21 Oct 2020 11:39 BST 18-25 October 2020

Tuesday was the first racing day of the qualifying series of the 2020 Optimist European Championship in Portorož, Slovenia. A low breeze of up to 7 knots and shifty wind conditions challenged a fleet of 113 girls and 156 boys, sailing in 5 different groups.

The first start was scheduled for 11 am, but the young sailors had to wait for almost an hour for the wind to stabilize enough for the first warning signal. They sailed in five different groups; three for boys (yellow, blue and red, all with 52 sailors each), and two for the girls (yellow and blue, with 57 and 56 sailors). Two races for all three boys' fleets were completed, and one race for both of the girls' fleets.

Yellow boys group started first, followed by the blue boys group who had a course change in the downwind leg. The red boys group had to abandon the race before the first upwind mark - all due to huge wind shifts to the right.

Alen Kustic, IODA RO: "The light wind was tough for the race committee and tough for the competitors as well. We couldn't run the races in the unstable morning southerly, so we had to move the course and wait for the thermal sea breeze. Unfortunately, already the first race for the boys' yellow fleet was affected by a big shift to the right, so we changed to course for the next boys fleet."

The race committee had to repeat the race 1 start for the red boys' fleet a couple of times until finally succeeding. The race 2 for all three boys fleets went smoothly.

Alen Kustic, IODA RO: "I think we tried to start race 1 for the red boys fleet at least four times, all due to wind shifts and wind changes. It was demanding."

Both girls fleets finally started on the black flag, with no clear starts. In a dying breeze they managed to finish their first race but unfortunately had to abandon the second.

Alen Kustic, IODA RO: "At the end, we had to make tough decision to stop both races for girls, there was still some wind at the time, but it was dying and that was a good decision. We try to make the races equal for all the competitors, not only for the leaders. Tomorrow we will start with the girls fleets and continue with the boys."

As always, the light conditions proved to be a busy time for the judges.

Uroš Žvan, International Judge, Jury Member: "For me as a judge it was pretty challenging. In the light wind, we can always see a lot of prohibited actions, so we had some yellow flags and some penalties imposed on the water."

Slovenia declared the state of epidemic on Sunday, right on the first day of the event, so the Optimist European Championship is being held under the strictest anti-Covid-19 measures and protocols. The organizer is upholding to the highest safety conditions and all the participants are complying in the best possible manner.

Susan Elliot Beatty, Regatta Secretary, IODA: "Here it is fantastic, we have created a small bubble here at the venue, we are very conscious of all of the risk mitigation protocols we need to have in place for the Covid-19 and everyone is being very respectful and observing everything. We feel very safe working here, well - as safe as we can possibly be - and also working here with the organizers at Pirat Sailing Club has been a fantastic experience and the sailors are having a great time. They're very happy to be on the water."

After the first two races, Adriano Cardi Quan (ITA) is in the lead in front of Weka Bhanubandh (THA) and Konstantinos Portosalte (GRE) in third. The leading girl is Ewa Lewandowska (POL) in front of Rebecca Geiger (ITA) and Andriani Georgiou (CYP).

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