Following assistance toward the purchase of eighteen Optimists by clubs in Bulgaria in 2006/7, the latest project is to help to revive and develop sailing in Serbia and neighbouring countries. Following the successful

Balkans, South Pacific, Caribbean, etc

Renaissance in the Balkans

Following assistance toward the purchase of eighteen Optimists by clubs in Bulgaria in 2006/7, the latest project is to help to revive and develop sailing in Serbia and neighbouring countries. Following the successful S.E. Europe Optimist Championship 18 charter boats were bought by Serbia and six by Macedonia.

South Pacific

See separate report (PDF).


A SPECIAL Christmas Gift

Many lucky children round the world will be receiving an Optimist for Christmas. But in the Bahamas they will be getting NINETEEN!

In a deal finalised on Christmas Eve the Bahamas Sailing Association has ordered nineteen Optimists to help establish a National Sailing School.

For some months the B.S.A. has been seeking low-cost second-hand Optimists to open the sport of sailing to juniors that previously could not participate in a sailing program due to economic reasons. U.S. builders McLaughlin searched hard and came up with an offer of charter boats to be used at the Orange Bowl Regatta in Miami next week. But the price was still rather higher than the funds available. An appeal to IODA for help under its "6 for 5" scheme secured a further 17% reduction and the order was placed.

John Lawrence, secretary of the B.S.A. wrote:

"The Bahamas Sailing Association (National Authority) is establishing the first National Sailing School of The Bahamas. This non-profit venture aims to teach sailing to juniors in the Bahamas and will for the first time open the sport of sailing to juniors that previously could not participate in a sailing program due to economic reasons.

This is a very worthy program and we hope that it will have substantial growth over the next few years. Having said that we are now at the first step and we can only afford a few boats and therefore request the "6 for 5" assistance. We feel that once we get the program started we will be able to grow from there as we will have something tanigble with our sailing program.

We want to ultimately introduce the optis on a large scale basis to the local school system."

Just two years ago the Royal Nassau S.C. wrote to IODA:

"We have missed a complete generation of developing sailors at our sailing club. We now have a group of members who are willing to get this thing going again.". Fleets have since been introduced at the R.N.S.C. and the Nassau Yacht Club, and the initiative of the B.S.A. will open up the sport still further.

Another 18 boats for the Dominican Republic

A further three Optimists are being given to the Dominican Republic under the IODA "6 for 5" development programme. A total of 18 Optimists are being ordered to bring the total fleet to 29 boats.

Irina Perez de Bros, director of the National Sailing School writes:

"On behalf of the Escuela Nacional de Vela Dr. Alberto Verdeja as her technical director I am very grateful for all the efforts made to get the new opti boats, to keep increasing the fleet . All 4 (1 +3) boats will be in use of our development programs and will remain property of the Dominican Sailing Federation (FDV), along with the firts 5 boats we bougth 4 years ago. Our summer programs keep being a succes, and the new program with the recently founded Dominican Opti Asociation (ADO) is also going very well with the support of many volunteers and parents."

18 boats for Tanzania

A third grant has been made to East Africa, in this case Tanzania, under the IODA "6 for 5" development programme. This programme offers a free Optimist for every five bought to create or develop fleets in countries new to Optimist sailing.

The newly formed Tanzania Optimist Association is based in Dar es Salaam Yacht Club and, with the help of local sponsors, is placing an order for 18 Optimists. The three subsidised boats will be the property of the association and available to the children of non-sailors. The club has also donated its fleet of older wooden boats to the new association for novice training.

In the past two years IODA has made similar grants to groups in Kenya and Uganda which are working closely together. Next year the Kenyans will organise the fourth All-African Optimist Championship and it is hoped that this will stimulate yet more new fleets.

New fleet in El Salvador

The beginning of March saw the first launch of the new Optimist fleet in the Central American country of El Salvador.

The new venture is a partnership between the Salvador Sailing Association and IODA whereby the Sailing Association commissions a fleet of ten boats, built locally to the wood/epoxy pattern, and IODA supplies sails, rigs and accessories.

The strategy is to expand Optimist sailing in the region, working outwards from the successful fleet formed by Juan Maegli in Guatemala. Last year a similar wood/epoxy project was sponsored by IODA in Nicaragua and it is hoped to folow with Costa Rica and other neighbouring countries.

A description of the Nicaraguan project can be found in Optiworld 53

South Caribbean Development

AHO completes the jigsaw.

An order for 20 Optimists placed last week by the Sailing Foundation of Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles (AHO) marks the latest step in the programme to get Optimist fleets established in all the six countries of the southern Caribbean. These are Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad and now AHO.

Local enthusiasm is the key to this success and the latest development in AHO is driven by former Sunfish world champion and Laser Olympian Cor van Aanholt.


In just a few months Yachting Association of Sri Lanka has established a fleet of 17 modern GRP Optimists.

The six imported late last year with the help of IODA's "6 for 5" scheme have been joined by eleven new Chinese-built boats. The entire fleet will be equipped with new sails from North Sails Sri Lanka donated by IODA.

Sri Lanka also received a grant to send two sailors to the IODA Asian Championship in Mumbai, India. This has led directly to to revival of the South Asian Tri-Nations Championship between India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Enterprises and Optimists.


The two-month extended instructor training programme in the South Caribbean is going well.

The programme involves short courses in each country with two small local regattas and will end with group participation in the Schoelcher Regatta in Martinique.

The coach, Fernando Alegre ("Happy") from Peru, is visiting Bequia (St. Vincent), Grenada, St. Lucia, Barbados and Trinidad. As well as coaching instructor skills he is reviewing the structure in each island group to ensure the best use of facilities and equipment. IODA is paying travel and fees, with accommodation being sponsored locally.

The first mini-regatta was held in Grenada on the w/e of 25/26 January at the base kindly loaned by Neilson Active Holidays. Two sailors were invited from each of the other islands to give "Happy" the chance to give his coaching apprentices valuable experience in observing and fine tuning proper Optimist sailing and racing skills.

The programme is the latest initiative in the Optimist Class's ongoing promotion in the South Caribbean, where only Trinidad had Optimists until just three years ago. St. Lucia, Barbados and Bequia have all received free boats or equipment on the basis of 20% grants towards local purchases. Sailors and coaches have also been subsidised to attend the Martinique regatta to gain experience from the more developed French Antilles.