Oct 12, 2017

BBYC OptiMany have said that fall in Nova Scotia is the best season as the humidity of the summer is pretty much gone, the ocean water is at its warmest and the forests will soon be ablaze in stunning colour. As the Executive Chairman, Frank Denis of Sail Nova Scotia pointed out “It’s nice to have a youth regatta this time of year when most clubs are packing up”

While all that is true, the first day of the magnificent fall weather worked against the organizers of the NS Provincial Optimist Championship hosted by the Bedford Basin Yacht Club (BBYC).

Since being granted the opportunity to host the event a year ago, a small group of dedicated volunteers looked forward to the weekend of September 23-24 to once again put BBYC’s best foot forward. BBYC is proud to announce that this regatta is billed as a Clean Regatta in the name of Sailors for the Sea which is dedicated to reducing waste in our oceans. What better way to teach environmental awareness to our youngest sailors? One of the larger problems with ocean waste is the astronomical number disposable water bottles flooding our oceans.

To help combat this problem the NS Provincial Optimist Championship is a “disposable water bottle free” event thus all participants were encouraged to bring a reusable water bottle and take advantage of the onsite water bottle stations.

 

Opti Champion
BBYC is blessed to have as their head Instructor, Kate Pepler, 2016 Instructor of the Year, who played an instrumental role in the planning of the regatta. Quick to deflect credit, she insists that the team effort put forth by the planning committee are the real heroes. Good sailors always adjust their sails to match the wind. And in this case NO WIND. The coaches from the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron (RNSYS) provided a thorough discussion on sailing tactics, making the best use of the wind postponement. Though I consider myself to be an accomplished dinghy sailor from a cruising standpoint I learned a few things from the impromptu seminar. But alas racing was cancelled due to lack of wind.

Opti HeelingDay 2 of the regatta started with the Basin looking like glass and nerves were getting frayed as it looked like the entire regatta would be cancelled. As 1100 hrs approached zephyrs slowly transformed to whimsical whispers of wind and graduated to a steady light breeze of 3 knots. The postponement flag was lowered and the starting sequences began in earnest to fulfill requirements of an official regatta. A cancellation of a regatta of this magnitude translates to a huge monetary loss not only to the families for travel expenses but to the host club as well. BBYC and the sponsors spent a lot of money on things like plaques, medals, food, shirts, and other miscellaneous expenses.

The closing ceremonies were in a word, heartwarming. Though it was billed as a Championship series the 40 boats were divided into two fleets. The Green fleet comprised of very young novice sailors in their first regatta and the Championship Fleet including the more “seasoned” sailors vying for Opti Gold.

Opti Kids

Though a single sailor won three of the five races in the green fleet, all participants were presented a medal by Sail Nova Scotia, proving that everyone is a winner. In keeping with the theme of environmental awareness there was even a Sailor of the Sea award handed out to the person that picked up the most trash.

Opti FleetThe all-important Championship Fleet mustered a total of three races in very challenging conditions. Winning in light air sailing requires patience, skill, anticipation and endurance. The RNYS sailing team had it all as they owned the podium!

The success of any regatta relies heavily not only on Mother Nature, but on the dedication of the volunteers and sponsors. As Dennis Connor once said during an America’s Cup campaign ‘You have to be committed to the commitment.’ BBYC volunteers and staff have consistently risen to that challenge to wave their burgee with pride. The 2017 rendition of this regatta was particularly challenging due to lack of wind. All rigged up and no place to sail. With their backs against a wall the organizing committee chose not to cancel like some other clubs did on this weekend. Rather they persevered through adversity and a potentially embarrassing situation to prevail against the odds. I am proud to be associated with the BBYC.

-Rob Dunbar
all Photos credited to: Simon Carriere

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