We were so proud to be part of such a successful event last fall, the USODA Southeast OPTI Championship, a youth sailing race that was held at neighboring Camp Seagull.   On dry land, Arlington Place played host to the Sea Legs Social for event participants, volunteers and neighbors on Saturday night.  Good times….and with the success of this year’s event, I’m sure there’ll be more good times to come!  We got a sneak peak at the article that will be featured in next month’s edition of the Optinews:

2012 USODA Southeast Championship, September 21-23, 2012

Opti Sailing and Camp: A Winning Combination

On September 21st, 115 Opti sailors from all over the east coast – and even one from Chicago – converged on Camp Sea Gull on the coast of North Carolina for the 2012 USODA Southeast Opti Championship.  Many regatta participants stayed on site in traditional camp cabins, and everyone took advantage of camp activities and the ideal sailing conditions. 

On Friday, sailors, their families and coaches arrived throughout the day to check in, tweak their boats, and play on activities.  Some sailors could be found shooting archery or on the waterslide while others opted to get on the water and practice with their teams in the steady afternoon breeze.  As an added bonus, the Race Committee held several practice starts which allowed competitors the chance to ease some pre-race jitters.  After dinner in the Sea Gull Mess Hall, participants followed the tiki torch path down to a campfire on Wilkinson’s Point to roast marshmallows and eat s’mores.

The sailors woke up on Saturday to a light southwest wind that showed promise of strengthening with the typical sea breeze pattern in the afternoon.  The first two races were held in light air, and the wind picked up in the middle of the third.  By the fourth race, the wind and sea conditions were challenging even for the most talented racers in the field.
Once off the water, sailors raced over to the Zipline for some post-sailing fun.  Following dinner, everyone hopped on busses and rode to Arlington Place, Platinum Sponsor and host of the Saturday Night “Sea Legs Social,” complete with a Fireball Carnival, pool party and chocolate fountains.

Sunday’s racing started great with 10-12 knots of north breeze, but fell out after lunch.  After adding two more races to the weekend total of six, sailors headed back to the shore for the post-race cookout and awards ceremony.

In addition to the 94 boats in the Championship Fleet, 21 sailors participated in the Green Fleet coached by Opti guru, Tom Coleman.  Adding to the expert instruction by Tom, summer sailing instructors from Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer also contributed to the fun.  When asked about the event, Coach Tom responded, “Best youth regatta venue ever!  Not just the site, but all the staff and volunteers were fantastic.  I overheard many times from kids and adults that this was the most FUN regatta they had ever been to.”

Finishing in first place overall in the competitive fleet was Thomas Rice of Team SailStrong, followed by Louisa Nordstrom of Team FAST in second, and Hannah Steadman of Team FOR in third.  Matthew Keller of Naples Sailing Center finished in fourth and Christian Cyrul of Opti Prime was fifth.  Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer awarded a
Sportsmanship Award to Polk Baggett of the Carolina Yacht Club – NC for following the racing rules on his own after making contact with another boat and treating his fellow competitors with respect throughout the regatta weekend.

After the awards had been given out and the last Opti trailers were pulling out of the gates, PRO Hal Smith captured the essence of the event.  “This venue is unmatched for any regatta I have seen.  With Camp Sea Gull and Seafarer hosting this regatta, the kids were able to enjoy their weekend at a kid’s venue.  The combination of all of this and more made the regatta a truly special weekend.”  

The camps wish to thank the many wonderful volunteers, race committee, sponsors, and participants for such a successful and fun weekend.  Sea Gull and Seafarer look forward to welcoming Opti sailors and their families to more events in the future! For more information about Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer,
visit www.seagull-seafarer.org.