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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews from Around Banderas Bay | February 2006 

Bahia de Bandera Hosts National Children's Optimist Regatta
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Puerto Vallarta - Watch Mexico's future Olympians as they sail the beautiful azure waters of Banderas Bay. The first event of the month-long Festival Nautico is this Mexican Qualifier Regatta that will see junior sailors competing for a place on Mexico's National Optimist team and a chance to advance to the North American, European and World Championship Regattas for Optimist sailors.

The one-design regatta, which runs March 3rd, 4th, and 5th, is sanctioned by the Mexican Optimist Association and will present competitors from Lake Chapala, Mexico City, Cancun, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta.

The Optimist, a 7 1/2 foot flat bottomed boat, is the biggest and fastest growing dinghy class in the world, and the only dinghy designed exclusively for children under 15 recognized by the International Sailing Federation. It comes as no surprise that more than 50% of dinghy sailors competing in the Sydney Olympics in 2000 were former Optimist sailors.

Official registration takes place on March 3rd, but it is expected that this year's competitors will include Diego Reyes from Valle de Bravo, the 2005 South American Champion, and a very highly ranked national competitor. A family of medal winners in the 2005 Mexican Junior Olympics and the 2005 Challenge Cup - Cristina, Andrea and Federico Ortiz Vivas, are also expected to sail at the WesMex.

The WesMex Regatta will feature keen competition for advanced and novice Opti sailors alike, and in keeping with the Festival Nautico theme, will highlight environmental awareness and the preservation of beautiful Banderas Bay and the heritage of Mexico.

Visiting competitors and host VYC junior sailors will visit Vallarta Adventures for a special eco-presentation on the Dolphins of Banderas Bay that will highlight their habitat, protection and conservation.

Awards of Huichol Art from the states of Jalisco and Nayarit, representing the spiritual connection between nature and the environment, will be presented to Overall First, Second and Third place winners. In addition, Huichol art awards will be presented to those young individuals displaying positive personal conduct such as good sportsmanship, kindness, and environmental awareness.

Additional gifts and awards have been provided by North Sails One Design, Harken Sailing Hardware Inc., and Pie In the Sky Bakery, providing chocolate chip cookies for competitors each day of the Regatta.

The Regatta is hosted by the Vallarta Yacht Club, located in the Paradise Village Resort; the course will be set on the north side of the harbor entrance to Nuevo Vallarta. The Optis will be staged from the parking lot at the Yacht Club, launched and towed to the course.

The Public is welcome to attend the Opening ceremony at Paradise Village Amphitheatre on March 3rd and the Closing Ceremony at Vallarta Yacht Club on the 5th. Supporters and fans are also welcome to attend the Beach Party at Etc. Beach Club on the evening of the 3rd, for a fee of $85 pesos.

The best spectator vantage point for the races will be from Paradise Village Beach. Get in on the action and watch Mexico's future Olympians set up prior to the race and when they return from each day's competition at the Vallarta Yacht Club. For more information, click HERE to see Event Schedule or send an email to wesmex@puerto-vallarta.com.

History of the Optimist

As one of the most intensely competitive classes worldwide, despite the youthfulness of its sailors, the Optimist has emerged through the years as the premier developmental boat for young sailors. Optimist sailing provides a secure foundation for children entering the sport to develop into world class sports men and women. According to the IODA, more than 50% of dinghy sailors competing in the Sydney Olympics in 2000 were former Optimist sailors.

Where in most other sectors the sport of sailing is experiencing decline in participation, these little square boats appear to be thriving nationally and internationally.

Clark Mills first constructed the seven-foot, six-inch, flat-bottomed, pram-bowed, 77 pound Optimist dinghy back in 1947. According to a tribute printed after his death in December 2001 in Optinews, the official publication of the US Optimist Dinghy Association, the Clearwater, Florida boatbuilder constructed the kid-friendly dinghy after being given the job by the charitable Optimist Club of America.

Mills explained his role in the Opti's genesis: "I got the idea for the shape of the dinghy from the Sharpie, a flat-bottomed boat that had been used for a long time in coastal areas. It was seaworthy and sailed extremely well even with heavy cargo. It appeared that the children learned to sail very quickly in this little dinghy because they felt safe in it. I donated the construction to the organization. In that way I hoped, that the dinghy would be available for all children, even those who could usually not afford it. This was in 1947 and the dinghy, which was made of plywood, was (ready for sailing) not allowed to cost more than $50 USD."

WesMex 2006 Regatta Official Itinerary

Friday, March 3rd
08:00 - 09:15 - Registration in front of Vallarta Yacht Club
09:30 - 10:00 - Skippers Meeting at Paradise Village Amphitheater
10:15 - 11:00 - Opening Ceremony at Paradise Village Amphitheater [Press Welcome - Photo opportunities]
11:00 - 11:45 - Transport to Course
12:00 noon - Start 1st Race of the day
18:00 - 20:00 - Beach Party at Etc. Beach Club, Dinner on the Beach, Games and Fun
Challenges, Meet the Sailors [Public is Welcome] Cost: Competitors Free, Non competitors - $85 pesos. Tickets may be purchased at Race Registration and Party.

Saturday, March 4th
10:45 - 11:45 - Transport to Course
12:00 - Start 1st Race of the day.
17:30 - Vallarta Adventures Eco-Encounter, sponsored By Vallarta Adventures [Competitors Only]

Sunday, March 5th
10:45 - 11:45 - Transport to Course
12:00 - Start 1st Race
15:15 - Time limit - signal for last race
17:30 - Awards Presentation - Vallarta Yacht Club, approximately 1 hour after finish of last race. [Press Welcome - Photo opportunities]



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