2018 Optimist National Championships

Scroll down for informative news about this regatta. Sail-World, the world's largest sailing news network, also publicized the 2018 Opti Nationals at PYC in their online publication. These stories also ran on their European focused sister site Yachts and Yachting.

Looking Back on Pensacola Yacht Club's 2018 Optimist Nationals

PENSACOLA, FL (July 23, 2018) By Troy Gilbert with Talbot Wilson: At the Optimist Team Race National Championship prize giving, the final event of a three-event, ten-day, 168-race optimist marathon, Pensacola Yacht Club Commodore James Reeves remarked, “I know these young sailors had a fantastic time and were truly out there racing hard and having fun. I hope they tell all their friends about the fantastic racing on Pensacola Bay and the southern hospitality of Pensacola Yacht Club. We’re proud to have hosted them this year.”

Hailing from Canada, Great Britain, Denmark, Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, the U.A.E., Australia, U.S. Virgin Islands and the U.S.A., 298 different junior sailors competed for eight days in an epic 2018 USODA Optimist National Championship to determine the Overall, Girls and Team Racing champions. With the oak lined grounds of Pensacola Yacht Club at times resembling a sort of colorful vagabond child army encampment and the steel blue waters of Pensacola Bay their battlefield, these kids gave their all through varying wind conditions and sea states to showcase and hone their skill sets. (Continue Reading...)

Team Race National Championship: Big Opti Win Overall for Lauderdale Yacht Club

PENSACOLA, FL (July 22, 2018) By Troy Gilbert: “We just stayed relaxed and tried not to get worked up.” Still in his white pinnie and hosing down his Opti, Connor Boland and his teammates Sara Schumann, Laura Hamilton, Jack Redmond and Lucy Meagher of Lauderdale Yacht Club pulled in the 3-2 victory in the 2018 USODA Team Racing National Championship. After three hard days of tough sailing against 23 other teams in varying conditions that threw everything at them, their overall victory came down to the absolute final race of the day against Team Long Island Optimist Sailing Team, LISOT Black.

Since LYC won and is the reigning champion of the 2017 Opti Team Cup, both the first and second place teams are invited to the 30th Opti Team Cup in Berlin this October. 

Complete results are posted on www.usoda.org

Having sailed with his team for about two years including having won the Nationals with Sara Schumann in 2017, Boland adds, “It just came down to the basics, who sailed the better race.” (Continue Reading...)

Day 2 - 2018 Optimist Team Race National Championship

PENSACOLA, FL (July 21, 2018) By Troy Gilbert with Talbot Wilson: The marathon on the waters of Pensacola Bay turned into a sprint today as racing on Day 2 of the 2018 Optimist Team Race National Championship pushed into high gear. Under the guise of Team Race National Championship Principal Race Officers (PRO) Dwight LeBlanc and John Alden Meade, the twenty-four teams powered through the remaining 13 races necessary to split the fleet into Gold and Silver groups on the Alpha and Bravo courses. The PROs then orchestrated a clockwork factory of racing in the next round with starts every four minutes for both fleets. 

“Saturday was about technique with great boat handling at the marks and amazing strategies from these kids. They would launch a really fast kid, the next one would come into place and then block.” Race Committee Chairman Tom Pace, Jr. was blown away by the precision of the action, he continues, “There were a few crashes and dumps at the marks which greatly affected the strategies, but the kids were just out here ripping. Sheeting in, racing and being very tactical.” (Continue Reading...)

Day 1 - The Optimist Team Race Marathon is On

PENSACOLA, FL (July 20, 2018) By Troy Gilbert with Talbot Wilson: With six days of competitive and exciting racing to determine the 2018 Optimist National Champion and 2018 Optimist Girls National Champion in the books, the sailing marathon on the blue waters of Pensacola Bay continued today with the first of three days of Team Racing on the menu. The 2018 Optimist Team Race Championship officially opened.


Twenty-four teams took to the water Friday afternoon and racing got underway at about 1:30 on two courses with 12 teams on each.  In the Stage 1 Round-Robins each course will sail 66 races, if all goes as planned. Then the top six teams on each course will move into the Gold Fleet Qualifying Round-Robins, the bottom six go into the Silver Fleet Qualifying Round-Robins. Time permitting, each fleet will sail knockout matches to determine final rankings.

On Day 1 each course got in 53 matches, so the Qualifying Round robins will continue Saturday. The fleet will be divided into Gold and Silver groups after 66 races. (Continue Reading...)

Samara Walshe Named Top Sailor in 2018 Optimist Girls National Championship

 PENSACOLA, FL (July 18, 2018) By Troy Gilbert: The run of USODA National Championships continued at a feverish pace on the waters of Pensacola Bay Thursday with the 2018 Optimist Girls National Championship falling fresh on the heels of yesterday’s spectacular finish for the ‘open’ National Championship.

Samara Walshe of New York won Today’s Girls National Championship leading all sailors with 9 points (2,2,5). Sara Schumann of Ft Lauderdale was second with 14 points (1,11,2) and Emory Friend of New Orleans grabbed 3rd with 21 points (4,4,13). Results are provisional. Final results are posted at www.usoda.org

Samara talked about racing one race in the northerly breeze and how the seas breeze filled in from the south for two races. She was in the top ten in all three races. “My coaches told me the game plan; but if something changed or shifted, I would adjust. I’m responsible for the tactics. I always want to come into the mark roundings on starboard tack with the advantage and come in fast. The second race was my favorite. Just sticking to the game plan.” (Continue Reading...)

Stephen Baker named top overall sailor in 2018 Optimist National Championship

PENSACOLA, FL (July 18, 2018) By Troy Gilbert with Talbot Wilson: With his Opti still wet from the waters of Pensacola Bay and fresh off his 40 point win at the North Americans in Mexico, Stephan Baker of Miami, FL and member of the U.S. Optimist World Team was all smiles after sealing his win in the 2018 Optimist National Championship at Pensacola Yacht Club. Asked for the three things that contribute to his success on the water, he stated, “Focus, determination and passion.”


Going into today’s championship round, Baker was in first place, but only one point ahead of Malthe Ebdrup of Denmark who was effectively now match racing against Baker, and Laura Hamilton who was only four points out in third. (Continue Reading...)

Baker Leads Optimist Championship into Gold Fleet Races

PENSACOLA, FL (July 17, 2018) By Troy Gilbert: Stephan Baker of Miami FL, the current 2018 Optimist National Championship leader and member of the U.S. World Team, pulled in a third and a first in today’s racing. With a drop after five races, he is still one point ahead of Denmark’s Maithe Ebdrup going into the Gold Fleet races.

At age 14, Baker recently returned from the North Americans in Mexico which he won by 40 points. “It’s been going good, not exactly the results I would have wanted here, but I’m still doing really well. So, I’m happy about that and I’m looking forward to the championship Gold Fleet racing tomorrow.”

With the six sets now complete, the championship group will be divided into Gold and Silver Fleets. The top 33% will reach Gold and sail in a single division for the regatta's top prize. The remainder will sail in the Silver Fleet in two divisions.


Stephan Baker of Miami now leads all sailors with 8 points (1,(4),2,1, 3, 1). Maithe Ebdrup of Denmark is second with 9 points ( (3), 3, 1, 2,1,2) and Laura Hamilton has moved into third after dropping a 15. She is top girl now with 12 points (2, (15),1, 5, 2, 2). Full results are posted at www.usoda.org. (Continue Reading...)

AP Over Alpha — Tomorrow is Another Day

PENSACOLA, FL (July 16, 2018) By Troy Gilbert with Talbot Wilson -- AP flew over Alpha Monday afternoon telling the young fleet of Opti sailors that racing was postponed for Monday. But the party went on. 

Monday, the 2018 USODA National Championship sailors arrived at Pensacola Yacht Club early, ready to sail after a 4-set day on Sunday. But the weather didn’t cooperate. The race committee, led by Hal Smith PYC Fleet Captain and fleet racing Principal Race Officer (PRO), first hoisted the AP flag announcing a general postponement at 9:30am due to lack of steady winds barely approaching the 4 knot minimum. 

Regatta Chairman Tom Pace, Jr. said, “The challenge was that if we could just squeeze one more set in now, then we could divide the whole fleet into the Gold and Silver fleets, but they can only do that after we have a total of five sets completed. The problem is that we have stormy weather coming in with lightning and rain."  (Continue Reading...)

Tired Opti Sailors Happy with Four Sets of Day-1 Races

PENSACOLA, FL (July 15, 2018) By Troy Gilbert - 2018 Regatta Chairman Tom Pace, Jr. circled the fleet at the helm of his 38’ Jupiter as the sailors rolled through the second set, he states, “This is probably about the best first day you could have for a regatta. We had a little bit of a wait for the wind to come in and we had one very hot light air race that was very tactical. If we can, and our goal is to get three sets in the box, it would be a stellar first day.”


The race committee led by PYC Fleet Captain and fleet racing Principal Race Officer (PRO) actually did better than that.  The crew operating the start and finish lines and markboats around the Optimist Trapezoid course put together four sets of three races each with the young sailors hitting the water at 10:00AM finishing after 5:00PM. 

After the four races, Stephan Baker of Miami leads all sailors with 8 points (1,4,2,1). Malthe Ebdrup of Denmark is second with 9 points (3, 3, 1, 2) and Peter Foley of Coconut Grove FL is third with 18 points (2, 14, 1, 1). Samara Walsh, the top girl so far, is in fourth with 21 points (10,7,2,2). Pensacola sailor Gil Hackel is the top local standing in 13th place. Full results are posted at usoda.org. (Continue Reading...)

As Seen on local ABC Channel 3, WEARTV.com

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR), Sunday, July 15, 2018 — Pensacola is hosting the 2018 Optimist National Championships. It’s a huge deal in the sailing community. That was pretty clear from the welcome ceremonies Saturday in downtown Pensacola. Over 300 young sailors will be competing, and they're coming from all over the country and all over the world. England, Brazil, Australia are just some of the 12 foreign countries represented.

Boys and girls ages eight to 15 will compete in lots of different skill level divisions, and include some very elite young sailors. Four days of racing for the national championship starts Sunday out on Pensacola Bay. An all-girls event and a team racing championship will follow, with eight days of racing in all. In a big added bonus for the youngsters, some of the nation’s best professional sailors were in town for the welcome ceremonies. Team members from American Magic, who will represent the US in the next Americas Cup, were mingling and inspiring. (Watch the video here)...

Measurement & Check-in/Greetings

PENSACOLA, FL (July 13, 2018) By Troy Gilbert -- The first sailors made their way into Pensacola Bay on Spanish galleons in 1559 and now, for the next ten days, the newest generation of future world class sailors will etch their names to that long history on the water competing in the USODA Optimist Nationals, the Girls Optimist National Championship and the Optimist Team Race National Championship.

Founded in 1908 and one of the premier yacht clubs in the Gulf Yachting Association and the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs, the sprawling oak lined grounds of the Pensacola Yacht Club are teeming with the energy and excitement of 300 young sailors and their support teams, parents and coaches as the first day of measurements and check-ins got underway.

With sailors hailing from Canada, Great Britain, Denmark, Brazil, the U.A.E., Australia, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S.A., there’s an international air and World Cup spirit already at play as the afternoon breeze freshens from the waters of the bay and Gulf of Mexico. And it's only Friday. Racing starts Sunday.   (Continue Reading)...  

2018 Opti National Sailing Competition: July 13-22

Published in the Pensacola Sports Halftime Report, July 11, 2018: Come down to The Pensacola Yacht Club to check out the 2018 Opti Nationals. The regatta is a week-long sailing spectacular, hosted by PYC on Pensacola Bay, showcasing the best Optimist dinghy sailors between the ages of 8 & 15 years old. The has 3 big championships; the Optimist National Championship, The Optimist Girls National Championship, and the Optimist Team Race National. Visit their website to learn more.

Gala Opening Ceremony Featuring US America's Cup Challenger

Pensacola, Florida,  July 11, 2018 By Talbot Wilson — Join the 300 young Optimist  National Sailors, their siblings, parents, coaches to celebrate International Optimist Dinghy sailing in Pensacola and learn about American Magic, the New York Yacht Club's U.S. challenge for the 36th America's Cup. It's happening in Downtown Pensacola at the Gala Opening of the 2018 Optimist Nationals this Saturday evening at 5:30 in the Saenger Theater.  The Opening Ceremony will be live streamed worldwide over Facebook.
Visit 2018 Optimist Nationals for information.  (Continue Reading)... 

Countdown to 2018 Optimist Nationals

Pensacola, Florida,  June 14, 2018 — The countdown to the 2018 Optimist Nationals at Pensacola Yacht Club continues. Check-in and measurement — July 13 & 14 — for the July 15 start of racing is one month from today. Opti parents, famous for late entry in their events, will be finalizing plans this week. So far, organizers expect competitors from the four corners of the U.S. and 14 countries including Australia, Brazil, Dubai, several European countries and more. Registration is on-line only at www.usoda.org. (Continue Reading)...

Change is Good: New Optimist Team Race Championship Entry Deadline Set for May 21st

Pensacola, Florida,  March 27, 2018 —  The team entry deadline for Pensacola’s 2018 Optimist Team Race National Championship has been extended. The new team entry deadline is midnight CDT, Monday, May 21, 2018. The names of the individual four or five team members are not due until midnight July 5. The amended NOR is posted at www.usoda.org under "USODA Regatta Calendar." (Continue Reading)...  

British Optimist Association Sending a Team for US Nationals in Florida

YachtsandYachting.com, March 4, 2018  —  John Perham, International Optimist Class Association (IOCA) UK spokesperson said, "This event promises to be a fantastic opportunity for our Development Team sailors as the event at Pensacola Yacht Club comprises of a National Championship, Girls Championship and Team Racing Championship. Over the years we've enjoyed having USA teams represented at the British Nationals. We are delighted this year, to be able to support the US Optimist Dinghy Association by sending a GBR team to attend the US National Championships." (Continue Reading)...

British Optis Will Head to Pensacola’s US Optimist National Championships

Pensacola, Florida,  March 1, 2018 — Great Britain's National Optimist Dinghy Association, IOCA UK, is excited to announce that following Selections in May, this year's Development Team will be heading to the 2018 USODA US Nationals in Pensacola, Florida from 13 - 22 July 2018. (Continue Reading)... 

Optimist Class Returns to Florida

Scuttlebutt Sailing News, February 27, 2018 — The three-event 2018 Optimist US Nationals is scheduled for July 13-22 at Pensacola Yacht Club in Pensacola, FL.

All qualified Opti sailors, not just sailors from the USA, are invited to come to compete on Pensacola Bay in the four-day Optimist National Championship, the one-day Optimist Girls National Championship, and the three-day Optimist Team Race National Championship. (Continue Reading)...

Sail-World.com — News About the Opti 2018 Nationals @ PYC

Pensacola, Florida,  February 22, 2018 —  View the latest 2018 Opti Nationals @ Pensacola Yacht Club press release published by Sail World (the World's Largest Sailing News Network), written by PYC's Talbot Wilson. (Continue Reading)...

Registration Opens for 2018 Optimist Nationals

Pensacola, Florida,  February 21, 2018 —  Registration is now open online at www.usoda.org for the three-event 2018 Optimist Nationals scheduled for July 13-22 at Pensacola Yacht Club (PYC) in Northwest Florida. A separate Notice of Race for each of these three national events is also posted on the site. (Continue Reading)...

Pensacola Yacht Club to Host 2018 Optimist Nationals

Pensacola, Florida,  November 16, 2017 — The United States Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA) has selected Pensacola Yacht Club (PYC) to host their 2018 Optimist Nationals. This will be a week-long sailing spectacular on Pensacola Bay showcasing the nation's best International Optimist Dinghy sailors 8 to 15 years old. (Continue Reading)...