Optimist Worlds Poland

Optimist Worlds Poland

Via Point Yacht Club

For the two KZN youngsters who recently travelled to Dziwnów, Poland to compete in the 2015 World Optimist Champs, the event perhaps won’t register as one of their favourite moments in their life but they walked away having learnt a lot.


Liam Fennessy from Durban North and Calum Gaughran from Hillcrest ended their hard earned efforts recording a 252 and 253 place respectfully.


One position separated the two budding, local sailors after their efforts over the nine days racing. The principle race officer at the World Championships was heard to say in his final briefing that he had never experienced an international championship with so little breeze; the entire event was near windless.


“Sadly the wind over the week or so of sailing was not the best.” stated Fennessy.  “But the racing was intense, even in the light winds. One mistake meant that we would drop drastically in position in the fleet.”

Both Fennessy and Gaughran recorded two top 45 results on their scorecards in the emerald fleet, with Fennessy scoring a 30th and 31st. Gaughran notched up a 35th and a 41st as his best results out of their nine races. All of the South Africans who competed participated in the emerald fleet; a fleet which comes after the gold, silver and bronze fleet.


The Optimist World Championships is the premier U16 youth regatta in the world of sailing with 58 countries being represented at the event. Each country sends up to five top sailors in this class annually, so for the majority of the 275 sailors gathered in Poland, winning their place to represent their country would already be their highlights in their fledgling careers.


Continuing Fennessy breaks into a smile, “But racing was an absolute blast, although because of the immense current, which the whole South African team was not used to, we struggled to stick to the start line, which was already hard to do as the 70 boats on the line made starting a mission on its own. The facilities were great, even the hotel with its minute cabins was nice. On the days that we were sailing, most of the South African team were having fun.”


“My favourite part about the racing was the time we had on the water, such as the wind conditions not being too strong and the weather conditions being not too cold almost every day, actually making sailing enjoyable.” concluded the lanky teenager.


Renowned Durban Hobie sailor and father, Sean Fennessy enthused, “The guys demonstrated growing confidence and consistency at a high level.”


Durban junior sailors, Liam Fennessy and Calum Gaughran are happy to be back and are both looking forward to the upcoming Summer Sailing Season with Point Yacht Club where they hope to practice the lessons they learnt from their recent trip to Poland where they both competed in the Optimist World Championships.

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