The 2005 Optimist World Championships are being held on a small high altitude lake, Silvaplana over 1800 metres above sea level, close to St Moritz in the Swiss Alps. Sailing conditions are challenging. The lake is 4 km long but very narrow so that the normal Oppy course has been modified with a short 2nd leg from weather to wing marks while the beats and run are long. The winds are funnelled between steep high mountains and are affected by rock and tree outcrops, with areas of accelerated air and lifts, and holes that can vary quite a lot. There are also currents from glacier melt rivers and streams.
Winds are either cold northerlies (and nearly always so at night) or in July-August southerlies of 18 knots plus from mid or late morning if the north Italian area is hot, as in the first 3 days of the regatta last week - the Malojawind.
There are 241 competitors from over 50 countries, only 39 of whom are girls - perhaps reflecting cultural factors. The standard of racing is astonishing. The entire fleet (flights of approx 80 boats) can cross the finish line in a few moments.
The Irish team of Alyson Rumball, Katie Tingle, Ed Butler, Davy Kennefick and Tim Laoire are a great bunch, very cohesive and supportive of each other. As sailors they have shown that they are all well up with the standard of the worlds top oppy sailors.
Fortunes have been mixed with some great results in the level of competition they are experiencing (Alyson had 3 finishes in the 20s, Katie 2, Tim a 15th and 23rd, Davy a 13th and Ed a 29th), but unfortunately two OCS and a disqualification for an incomplete 720 penalty took their toll.
Tim was especially unfortunate when lying 9th on the reach and overtaking the 8th placed boat to leeward when a gust required him to bear off to avoid a collision and he swamped. What looked like another top result disappeared in seconds.
After the Swiss holiday weekend (enjoyed at 3,300 metres) the team were keen to get some more good finishes but there was no racing today after hours on the water while the wind (and rain) oscillated between cold northerlies and attempted warmish southerlies.