The Bermuda Opti Team for the 2014 South American IODA Championships. Left to right, back row: Joe Arrowsmith (12), Tayte Stefaniuk (12), Yannick Hillier (12), George Buckley (13), Martin Jenkins (coach); front, Camille Chin-Gurret (14), Adam Larson (12), Mikey Wollmann (13), Felix Cutler (11). *Photo supplied
The Bermuda Opti Team for the 2014 South American IODA Championships. Left to right, back row: Joe Arrowsmith (12), Tayte Stefaniuk (12), Yannick Hillier (12), George Buckley (13), Martin Jenkins (coach); front, Camille Chin-Gurret (14), Adam Larson (12), Mikey Wollmann (13), Felix Cutler (11). *Photo supplied

A team of young Optimist Sailors left Bermuda this week for Punta del Este, Uruguay to represent Bermuda at the International Optimist Dinghy (IODA) South American Championships. 

They are the cream at the top of a crop of up-and-coming and very talented young Bermuda sailors. Racing will begin tomorrow and conclude on April 19. 

The IODA South American Championship comprises three ‘championships’ — The Optimist Individual South American Championship (ISAM); The Optimist Team Racing South American Championship (TRSAM) and The Optimist Nations Cup (NC).

There are 15 countries and 158 sailors participating in the event. 

The eight-person Bermuda National Team for this event consists of: Joe Arrowsmith (12), George Buckley (13), Camille Chin-Gurrett (14), Felix Cutler (11), Yanick Hillier (12), Adam Larson (12), Tayte Stefaniuk (12), and Mikey Wollmann (13). 

These are sailors who qualified through local competition in 2013 to represent Bermuda at one or more of the marquee continental Optimist Championships held annually.

Following the South American Championship, the North American Championships will be held in Mexico in July, European Championships will be in Ireland in July and the  African Championships will be in Morocco in October. The Optimist World Championship will be held in San Isidro, Argentina October 20-31. 

Tayte Stefaniuk has been sailing Opti’s for 2 1/2 years. He trains out of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and is currently ranked second in Bermuda. He recently won the Digicel Spring Regatta and was named Top Male Bermuda Sailor at Nationals.

From the current rankings, Tayte is the top Bermuda sailor attending the South American Championships. The only girl attending is Camille Chin-Gurret, who is ranked 12th overall in Bermuda and third girl.

The current rankings of the attending sailors are: Stefaniuk – 2, Wollmann – 4, Larson – 6, Arrowsmith — 7, Cutler — 8, Buckley — 9, Hiller — 11 and Chin Gurrett — 12.

Stefaniuk has participated in several oversees events including Orange Bowl in Miami twice, New England Championships, Canadian Championships and, with four members of this team (Tayte, Mikey, Adam and  Joe), also placed third in the Ft. Lauderdale Team racing Championships in December.

Mikey Wollmann is the most travelled and experienced sailor in the group representing Bermuda this year in the South American’s.

He has represented Bermuda in several IODA events around the world including the South American Championship when he was just 10 years old. Mikey won the Canadian Championships in 2012.

Felix Cutler is the youngest member of the team at 11 years old, however, he comes from a sailing home — his Dad is Alec Cutler, recent Miami Winter Series champion in the Melges 32 Class.

All of the sailors have  been working hard in the lead-up to the event. This certainly is not all about one young sailor, but a recognition of a team that formed to represent Bermuda in one of the IODA Championship events that takes place each year.

Bermuda should be very proud of all of the young sailors and their commitment to the sport and know that they will represent the country well both on and off the water. The Bermuda team is coached by Bermuda National high performance Optimist Coach Martin Jins. n

For information about Optimist sailing in Bermuda visit the website at http://www.boda.bm/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bodasailing.