Blessed with a beautiful location and a natural ‘wind machine’ that delivers almost daily 20+ knot southerly ‘Ora’ winds, Lake Garda in Northern Italy is a global sailing mecca. Over the years it has become home to many high profile sailing events including the annual ‘Lake Garda Optimist Meeting’. Hosted by the Fraglia Vela Riva Yacht Club in Riva Del Garda – this event holds the Guinness Record as the world’s largest single-class regatta. 2022 was the 40th year of the Lake Garda Optimist Meeting with entries from just under 1,000 young Optimist sailors from 35 countries, including a team from CSC.
Six members of CSC’s Optimist Alpha squad, accompanied by a support team of their Dads, were waved off by Coach Jhing at Changi airport on April 7th.
Four days of training with the championship coaches of the Atlantis Academy followed. It was a baptism by fire for the CSC squad with 30+ knot winds and 10 degree Celsius temperatures for their first day on the lake. But they adapted well and were soon enjoying more consistent force 3-5 winds, beautiful spring sunshine and the stunning Lake Garda scenery.
The formal start of the event on April 12th was marked by an Olympic style opening ceremony. This saw the CSC squad parading alongside their fellow competitors through the charming old streets of Riva Del Garda, proudly flying their Singapore and CSC flags.
Racing kicked off the same day with the ‘Country Cup’, with one sailor from each country going head to head in a series of short races. Tiago Salgado stepped up and did a great job representing CSC and Singapore.
For the main regatta, all participating sailors were then assigned to one of five equally sized, mixed ability, qualifying fleets.
The race management of such a large fleet was very impressive. A line with a two pins ends and a centrally placed committee boat was used to oversee each start, with approximately 180 boats in each of the 5 fleets sailing 3 races around the same course at only 10-15 minute intervals!
The results of the qualifying races were used to assign the sailors into Gold, Silver, Bronze, Emerald and Pearl fleets for a series of ‘Finals’ races to finish the event. Considering the difference in conditions, level of competition and relative levels of experience, the CSC squad performed admirably. Tiago Salgado (SGP 719) and Samuel Tan-Hardy (SGP 727) placed well in the Bronze fleet. Lukas Kiesselbach (BAH 601) finished strongly in the Emerald Fleet. Caio, Riley and Gaitan Sullivan (SGP 708, SGP 713, SGP 714) competed and finished together as brothers-in-arms in the Pearl fleet.
The winner of the Gold fleet and overall champion of the event was Sviatoslav Madonich (UKR 311) of Ukraine. It was an emotional moment for all to see this young sportsman celebrating his win and the positive, inclusive spirit of the event, with other young European competitors.
Apart from the sailing, the trip was an amazing experience for all involved. The hospitality from the club and the town was excellent. Much pasta, pizza and gelato was enjoyed by all not to mention a little vino and limoncello by the hard working fatherly support crew!
With the further relaxation of travel restrictions here’s looking forward to seeing the CSC and Singapore flags flying at more global sailing events very soon.
Jonathan Hardy & Claudio Salgado