Optimist sailors representing the Cayman Islands will look to ride a wave of positive results into Antigua 6-16 July for the 2019 Optimist World Championships.
Leading the way is 14-year-old Matheo Capasso. The three-time national champion is coming off an impressive performance at May’s RenessainceRE Junior Cup in Bermuda where he won bronze among a field of the world’s top optimist sailors. Capasso hopes to improve on his 31st place in the Emerald fleet from his world championship debut last year.
“I am feeling nervous, but I am also very excited to see my friends who I’ve competed against,” said Capasso. “It’s difficult to make predictions because it’s such high quality, but I hope to get Gold fleet.”
Cayman’s three remaining sailors will compete in their first world championships. In 2018, 14-year-old Jaspar Nielsen finished 75th in the gold fleet of the North American Optimist Championships in Mexico. This year, Nielsen placed a season’s best 67th overall in the senior fleet of the 37th Lake Garda Meeting in Italy, while winning his first international race at the Opti Spring Regatta in the Netherlands.
“I think the team will perform as best as we can do,” said Nielsen. “It’s a really good experience and I think we will do really well. We’ve done a lot of training overseas with other coaches, and sailed in other overseas regattas. Overall, we have had loads of preparation. It’s stressful but exciting at the same time. It’s a whirlwind of emotions. It’s going to be a great experience, and I can’t wait to go.”
Also sailing are 13-year-olds James Costa and Xavier Marshall. In 2019, Costa ranked third among Cayman sailors while finishing 42nd in the silver fleet at the 2018 Optinam Championships. Marshall finished 103rd at the 2019 Opti Spring Regatta in Port Zélande.
The Optimist World Championships will feature 268 sailors from a record 64 countries on the challenging conditions of English Bay in eight consecutive days of racing, including six in the individual fleet race competition and two days in the team event.