A group of five young Bermuda sailors distinguished themselves at the world’s largest one-design regatta for Optimists. 

More than 800 optimist sailors from 33 countries took part on Lake Garda, Italy, with three of our sailors competed in the Juniores Fleet, for those aged 12-14 years and two in the Cadetti Fleet, for under 12s.

The five from Bermuda were Campbell Patton,  Matilda Nicholls, Flo Nicholls, Luke Madeiros and Ethan Madeiros, who was experiencing his first overseas regatta in the racing fleet.

The five Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Academy sailors revelled in the spectacular scenery and awesome sailing conditions Lake Garda is famous for.

The Madeiros brothers joined the SailFast Squad, while Patton and the Nicholls sisters trained with Team Winner. 

During the training, some warm-up regattas were held with sailors from many countries competing. 

Bermuda’s Matilda Nicholls enjoyed the windier conditions and surprised some of Europe’s strongest sailors competing in the SailingGarda Regatta. She finished first girl and second overall in a strong fleet.

The opening ceremony of the main regatta took place on Wednesday with a high-spirited Bermuda Team joining the mass of other Optimist sailors from the likes of Algeria, Ecuador, Ghana, Israel and Russia.

In the Juniores Fleet, Campbell Patton and Matilda Nicholls both qualified for the Gold Fleet for the top 125 sailors, placing 41st and 49th out of 625 competitors after seven races, a significant achievement.

Luke Madeiros qualified for the Emerald Fleet. Meanwhile, in Cadetti, Flo Nicholls placed 27th out of 205 boats to qualify for the Gold Fleet and Ethan Madeiros joined the Silver Fleet. The final day of racing saw some very varied conditions in different ares of the Lake. The Cadetti sailed one race in windy conditions with a second race much lighter.

Flo Nicholls gained some places to get into the top 20 overall, finishing the Regatta 19th and sixth girl. 

Ethan Madeiros ended the week 189th (84th in the Silver Fleet).

Meanwhile, the Juniores sailors also had some very varied conditions.

The results for the fleet were varied, but Bermuda’s  Patton excelled in the second race of the day to finish ninth, which gave him an overall position of 27th, the top five per cent  of the entire fleet.

Matilda Nicholls had a tough day and dropped to 90th overall, which still saw her as the second-placed 12-year-old in the Regatta. 

Luke Madeiros had a good day, finishing 96th in his Fleet, placing him 471st overall. BODA’s chairman of sailor development, Paul Doughty, said: “Thirteen sailors have this Easter taken advantage of BODA’s policy of encouraging their sailors to compete at major regattas — eight in Uruguay and five in Italy.

“Plans for summer regattas are already being made. The results achieved by these young sailors bode well for the future.” n