The record-breaking regatta revamps itself with new technical specifications

Sun, 22/02/2015

The Garda Optimist Meeting: the record-breaking regatta revamps itself with new technical specifications that will increase competitivness and adapt to the high level of skill presented by the young participants.

This event is already a Guinness World record for being the largest regatta of a single class in the world and for many youngsters it is a dream come true to take part in the Garda Optimist Meeting organised by the historic Fraglia Vela Riva in the days running up to Easter, (2nd -5th April). It is a unique event which involves almost 1000 helmsmen from around 30 different nations. This year, however, the Meeting for budding sailors is raising the bar on the technical level for the larger and more competitive junior category. This will make the Meeting more of a “regatta” thus adapting itself to the improvements in the technical-tactical skills of the participants shown over the last few years.

The new specifications
These new specifications apply only to the Junior fleet and are geared towards guaranteeing maximum competativness at the event. The pre-start ( designed to keep the different heats grouped in succession just before the start), will no longer be implemented according to usual procedure, but will be a simple, mandatory passage for the participants to reach the true starting line layed 40-50mt. upwind, where each heat will race according to the normal procedure, as stated in the racing rules. In addition a leeward gate will be layed  this year and the finish line will be at the end of the second windward leg (instead of at the end of the last short reach as usual) which completes the course quadrangle. These changes have been made by Fraglia Vela Riva to fulfill the requests of the athletes and coaches, who are more than happy to participate at this sailing festival but with more challenges both technically and competatively. The thirty third edition will see an increase in skill, keeping in mind the competativity and the safety of the large fleet on the water. Start and course systems are the same as adopted in the International regattas of Palma De Majorca, Palamos and the World Optimist Championships. Everything will remain the same for the younger Cadet fleet with a simple, straightforward course.

Pre-registration reaches 500
In the meantime on-line pre registration continues and with just over one month till the event, the numbers have reached around 500. Among the nations who have a sizable fleet taking part are Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and the U.S, as well as Italy , of course, who make up almost half of the participants. Not missing out by any means are the emerging countries such as Algeria, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine Bulgaria and Hungary.
The Taste of Victory

Last year's edition was a great competitive success for Italy as it saw two of its own helmsmen take first place in both categories. Davide Duchi – sailing under the colours of organising club Fraglia Vela Riva- had been aiming for first place in the juniors for the last  couple of years, while an unbelievable Francesco Novelli from nearby Malcesine took top slot among the younger cadets (9-11). Several winners from past editions of the Garda Optimist Meeting have gone on to become great champions over the years. The gold medal board contains names of many Olympic medallists and Olympic athletes, sailors in the America's Cup and World Champions. However, the purpose of this event is not to create budding champions, the beauty of this unique event is first and foremost the multitude of little sails on the water, with a series of events on land which bring together participants from all parts of the world, from the cold Nordic countries to the warmer climates of the Caribbean. This all culminates in a great festival of sailing, sport and friendship that have been made throughout the years between competitors, families and coaches. Add to that the right amount of competitive drive to give even more vitality to the event.

A spectacle not to be missed
For the last 33 years Easter at Riva del Garda has been synonymous with the Garda Optimist Meeting and on the Wednesday which precedes Easter, the sailing festival officially kicks off with the opening ceremony which includes a procession through the Old Town of Riva del Garda of the 1000 competitors proudly waving their country's flag. On the following four days racing will take place early morning to make the most of Lake Garda's characteristic north wind. Races will also be held in the early afternoon, the wind, however, is more stable during the summer months. In some years we have even seen ice on the boat ramp during the event but this in no way deters the courageous young sailors. Chaperones and tourists can also enjoy the spectacle as hundreds of sails wait along the northern shore of the lake to be called to the water. Soon after, these same hundreds of sails gradually fill  the mirrored waters of Lake Garda, Trentino, leaving onlookers amazed at the scene. Due to the shape of Lake Garda you can watch the regattas from the several panoramic roads overlooking the lake where you can enjoy a privileged vantage point in the most beautiful natural setting.
Sailing and Tourism: a perfect match

For the Optimist Meeting alone more than 1000 helmsmen are expected from around 30 nations along with 40 officials, 200 coaches and many families who will accompany their children to the regatta for the Easter holidays. A total influx in the first week of April of at least 15,000 visitors. These figures are acknowledged by Province of Trento as representing a “sure thing “, even in bad weather which actually happened a few years ago when tourism on Upper Lake Garda that Easter was “saved” thanks to the sailing regattas!