By Valerie Gillis, Team Lead
Optimist Team Canada, comprised of Andi Kinnear, Sterling Ott, Jack Gillis, Andres Noriega and Spencer Hrubant together with their coach Fede Donzino, Team Lead Valerie Gillis, Chaperone Ilona Hrubant and the supporting parents travelled in late June to Bodrum, Turkey for 3 weeks to compete with 276 world-wide top Opti sailors from 62 countries. Everyone was a bit nervous leading up to the event given the geo-political tensions and with many not having travelled yet since the onset of Covid in March 2020 but everyone’s spirits lifted as we realized we were in Mediterranean sailing paradise! The venue, with its deep blue hues and a 15th century castle as backdrop in the distance was stunning. Everyone also felt like Olympic athletes at the celebratory town parade of nations and opening / closing ceremonies.
The conditions for our sailors during the training week were an epic learning experience with heavy winds in the 20-30 knot range all week with moderate waves. Forecast every day for 3 weeks was sunny, really hot and windy. (Not a drop of rain) Regatta days were consistent 15-20 knots with the exception of one day of 10 knots. The boys learned quickly that this would be stiff competition but were all extremely committed and excited to be competing at this level and gave it their all. For some, this was also their first time even sailing in the ocean!
From my vantage point, I have to say that I was extremely proud of these boys. They competed fairly, made new friendships, had a ton of fun on and off the water safely and showed strong commitment to doing their best with a thirst for input and application of advice from Fede. With 4 fleets for the finals, all sailors made the 3rd fleet (bronze) or higher (Andi in Silver) and in the team event came very close with a tie to Slovenia despite limited team racing experience.
I am so happy to have had the opportunity to go with the team to support them at this event and I know this experience will stay in all our memories forever!
If you haven’t already, check out our social media site for the event at “teamcanadaoptiworlds” (Instagram) or “Team Canada Opti WORLDS” (Facebook) or live streaming of the team racing on YouTube: 2022 Arkas optimist World Championship to see pictures and video of our fun!