By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,490)
A lack of wind delayed the start of the second day of racing of the Optimist, (“Opti”) dinghies by one hour this morning off the Eastern Promenade on the east end of Portland. The race was scheduled to begin at 10:30 am, but didn’t start until close to 11:30 am. In the meantime, 310 youthful captains and their 10 ft. sailing dinghies were lined up around Cutter Street waiting for another opportunity to earn credits toward qualifying for international competition – to be decided next year in Stamford, Connecticut.
SailMaine, a Portland community based sailing program, is hosting this four day regatta under the supervision of the US Optimist Dingy Assocation. Youngsters as young as 6 years old can compete up to 16 years old. SailMaine was chosen by a committee of the Association to hold the 2013 competition which is considered to be an unique opportunity not likely to be repeated here. Every year the regattas are held in different locations across the country.
Despite the delay for lack of wind, there was not enough wind for the first of the four scheduled races for the day. The winds were about 8 or 9 knots – which was just enough to race, but not as much as these dedicated sailors wanted. The racers are divided into four different “flights” – each starting at different times and identified by color – lime, pink, blue and green. The flights are changed over night to have a good mix of sailors in each flight, regardless of times. “Two dinghies capsized, but they righted their boats and got right back in the race,” said Griffin Jent, a volunteer from Cape Elizabeth. “These kids are so competitive.” The top 25% from this regatta will go on to the nationals.
Traveling from city to city to enter these competitions is an expensive proposition, but well worth it. My son, calls me “The Wallet” said one father from Florida this afternoon, laughing.
Tomorrow, Thursday, is supposed to be the final day of racing – winding up at 2:30 pm with an award ceremony. However, rainy and possibly stormy weather is supposed to move in leaving the ending uncertain. “These sailors are very tough and they’ll handle any rain. They just want wind,” said Lauren Little, of Easton, Maryland. Her 13 l/2 year old son, Brendan, is in the competition.
For more background information on this competition, please visit previous Posts including, Post # 1,488, dated 8/5/13 hereon.