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Sailors teaching the world a thing or two

Tuesday 17 January 2012 | Published in Regional

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The Cook Islands Optimists sailing team are on their way home from the Opti Worlds in Napier where they proved themselves to be outstanding ambassadors for the Cook Islands. The team competed against some of the worlds top under 15 optimist sailors. The Cook Islands Optimist crew was made up of Eseta Ailaouamaua (Rarotonga Sailing Club), Duane George, Eric George, Dean Tetuaeteroi, Titi Kaukura and Jamie Pene (all from the Aitutaki Sailing Club). Team leader Lindan Pene shares some of the local teams experiences over the last days of the event.

Our guys all did well in the long distance race on the 5th with Duane George and Dean Tetuaeteroi collecting good poker hands to win themselves some prizes.

The next day saw a severe weather warning issued delaying the start of racing for several hours.

The winds had certainly arrived with the morning gusting to around 30 knots but the rain meant no visibility keeping everyone ashore for safety reasons.

Dean Barker from the New Zealand Americas Cup Boat came along to the club where everybody was waiting and our Cook Islands kids were not shy about getting some photos and everything they had signed.

One of the boys was even tugging out the waist band of his undies before thinking better of it thank goodness!

Due to the weather it was decided to keep Eric George ashore so he missed another set of races not helping the scoreboard but it was for the best as he still has a boil to contend with.

However, by the time the rain cleared enough and we finally got out to race well after lunch the wind dropped right away to be fairly light.

The last day of racing saw very light winds and despite all attempts to get just one more in, it wasnt to be with everything abandoned in the end. Not the best way to finish the regatta but then you cant control the weather!

Once ashore there was the mad flurry of getting everything packed and returning charter boat. The 200 plus kids were a sight to be seen later in the evening as T-shirt swaps took place in an atmosphere to rival the stock-market floor.

This bargaining went on for over two hours as kids swapped shirts, life-jackets, and anything else of trade value with other countries.

One of the most popular and sought after team shirts were our very own COKs as everybody loved them.

We by no means had enough to cater for the demand and we can honestly say that the Cook Island Opti logo is now being worn with pride in faraway places like Peru, Sweden, Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Greece, Canada and many others.

The fact that so many nations sought us out to acquire our team shirts shows just what an impact our sailors made on everybody there.