International Young Challengers for Malta award

Sunday, November 27, 2011, 15:58

A beautiful cluster of sails representing an international fleet of young sailors augurs well for a challenging 2011 Malta Euromed Championship. (Photo: Kurt Arrigo)

They will be coming from Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Monaco, Sicily, San Marinoand Russiato join other young sailors from Maltato contest the 12th edition of the Malta Euromed Championship.

The Event, to be raced in Mellieha Bay from Saturday 17th up to Tuesday 20th December, will be mainly an Optimists sailors’ competition where the ultimate award is the Euromed Overall Trophy which over the past 11 years has seen ten different winners. These came from Ireland, Sweden (twice), Malta (four times), Italy, Turkey and Russia (twice).  Malta’s Thomas Zammit Tabona is the only sailor to have won the Trophy twice, in 2006 and 2007, the second victory at the age of 13-years. The youngest winner of the award has been 11-year-old Russian Nikita Ushkov, a victory she registered in 2009.  Registration starts on Thursday the 15th.

The number of participants is not yet finalised with the organisers expecting more foreign competitors to confirm their participations in the coming days.  However, a record number of 130 entrants, like last year, are anticipated.

The Optimist Sailing Dinghy is acknowledged as a one design single handed sailing craft where only sailors under the age of 16 years are eligible to contest in this class racing. This is the largest junior class in the World and a recognised ISAF International Class.  The international racing fleet participating in theMalta4-day event includes both male and female sailors with ages ranging from 7 to 15 years olds.

The young Optimist fleet will be divided into six classes namely; Boys Open Class, Girls Open Class, Junior Boys, Junior Girls, Boys Cadets and Girls Cadet. The Malta Championship is also an attraction for Laser dinghy sailors where participation is not constrained by an age limit.  Here there will be 3 classes; 4.7 Boys, 4.7 Girls and the Laser Radial. For the first time the organizers will this year introduce an RS Feva class, dedicated to the 3.64m dinghy, acclaimed to provide youngsters with a sailing learning platform and said to be spreading around the world like wildfire. Here too participation will be open and there will be just one class.

The Malta Euromed Championship is organised by the Malta Young Sailors Club with the cooperation of the Kunsill Malti għall-iSport and the Mellieħa Local Council and held under the patronage of the Malta Sailing Federation. Mellieha Bay Hotel is the Championship’s Official Hotel while the Point Break beach club will be the event’s Headquarters.

John Ripard Jr., a main protagonist in the setting up of the MYSC, once told me that the Malta Young Sailors Club, established in 1997, “was born out of necessity, to fill a blank in the local sailing scene, and in a sense that blank was the lack of a competitive and numerous class of sailing dinghy for kids, hence the birth and success of the local Optimist Class.”

Yes, the idea behind Euromed was, and still is, to give local young sailors an opportunity to participate in an international event against other foreign sailors on home waters thus without the need to travel overseas.

I look upon the Malta Young Sailors Club and the Euromed as the Sailing Academy for young local sailors.  How true is this statement?

“Yes we are very proud to say that many of our ex-optimist sailors have moved on to Olympic class dinghies and have achieved some very prestigious results. Today many of our ex-sailors regularly crew and helm some of the larger yachts participating on the local circuit as well as on international offshore events. Peter Valentino Jr. and Jan Rossi, two former Euromed/MYSC members, formed part of the crew of Artie, this year’s overall winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race”, recalls  Jean Paul Flori Soler a member of the organising committee and coach of the senior optimist team for the past twelve years.

This year’s Euromed will see some 40 plus local sailors in action the youngest of whom will be 10-year-old Sean Miggiani.

For the foreign sailors, who are normally accompanied by other members of their family, the Malta Championship is an occasion to enjoy a competitive event in milder weather conditions from those prevailing in their countries.  Furthermore the foreign groups always make it a priority on their sojourn to go on excursions to Malta’s places of historical and cultural interest. Certainly, Euromed is an established winter event and a typical local attraction under the sport tourism spectrum.

As usual the Malta Euromed Championship will be held under the jurisdiction of a panel of three International Jury Members, who this year will be Margriet Pannevis (Nederland), Erich Michel Gerhart (Austria) and Peter Valentino (Malta).  This panel of international judges will be assisted by a National Jury team made up of Jovin Rausi and Godwin Zammit under the chairmanship of Peter Valentino and assisted by the Malta Sailing Federation president Anna Rossi, who will run the technical and logistic aspect of the event.  Peter Dimech will be the Championship’s Principle Race Officer.







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