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Open Skiff World Championship at Rimini, Italy - Preview

by Elena Giolai 12 Jul 2023 07:55 BST 16-21 July 2023

Olympic gold medallist and five-time America's Cup winner Sir Russell Coutts is currently training the New Zealand team in Italy in preparation for the upcoming Open Skiff World Championship in Rimini, starting on 16 July.

Record-breaking Open Skiff World Championship with nearly 300 participants: excitement builds in Rimini!

This is the largest Open Skiff World Championship ever recorded, with 286 pre-registered participants from 13 nations, surpassing all previous records. The Club Nautico Rimini, the Italian and International Open Skiff Class, Tahe Outdoors France, with the support of the Italian Sailing Federation, are now ready to welcome the cheerful, carefree, and undoubtedly enthusiastic invasion of young sailors and their companions, who will enliven the beach and sea of Rimini from 16 to 21 July.

There are three categories competing for their respective world titles: the youngest sailors under 12, the largest fleet of under 15, and the under 17. The program includes a coastal long-distance race on Sunday, 16 July, followed by the opening ceremony in the evening. From Monday, 17 July, to Friday, 21 July, fleet races will take centre stage, promoting healthy competition focused on fun and respect for the rules. The Open Skiff class emphasizes on-water arbitration and immediate resolution of any protests, reducing the need for lengthy discussions onshore after the races, except for rare cases. This allows the young sailors ample free time to socialize and enjoy themselves with fellow competitors from around the world!

Among the participants are the strong and sizeable "All Blacks" team from New Zealand, some of whom have dominated the recent national Open Skiff races in Formia and Cagliari. In preparation for the World Championship, the New Zealand team, accompanied by the legendary sailor Sir Russell Coutts (an Olympic gold medallist and five-time America's Cup winner), has been training on Lake Garda. Sir Russell Coutts, before returning to the "Sail Grand Prix" circuit for the Los Angeles event on 22-23 July, flew to Italy for a specific pre-World Championship clinic dedicated to the Open Skiff, held with the sailors of Circolo Vela Arco, which has embraced the Open Skiff philosophy for its young sailors. "The Open Skiff is a fantastic boat for young sailors to experience the joy of sailing. It is fast, exciting, and fun, easy to rig and maintain. Many of the skills learned in the Skiff can easily be transferred to other boats as sailors evolve and progress towards different forms of sailing," said Sir Russell Coutts.

But it's not just New Zealand that will proudly wave its flag in Rimini. The World Championship will feature participants from Australia, Brazil, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Poland, Switzerland, and the United States.

There are positive signs from the youngest under 12 category, with nearly 60 participants, while the under 17 category will have an equal number of sailors. The majority of the fleet will be represented by the under 15 category. Italy is sure to make its mark, as tradition has seen Italian sailors on the podium, although the New Zealand team appears to be very strong. The intensity of the wind will need to be taken into account, as light winds with current may pose challenges for the New Zealanders and those who are accustomed to different conditions in their training locations.

The Open Skiff class is growing in numbers and level of competition. Particularly for the Italian class, there have been consistently over 100 participants in each national regatta this year. The philosophy is to offer a boat with "smart," "fast," and "fun" characteristics, perfectly capturing the spirit with which young sailors approach competitive sailing in this vibrant class, chosen by an increasing number of sailing clubs as the go-to choice for the under 12 to under 16 age group.

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