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Thursday 7 October 2010 | Published in Regional


After a month in Manihiki, with members of the Tukao and Tauhunu sailing clubs, the Manihiki Sailing Club Optimist Fleet is up and running with about 80 children going through a learn-to-sail programme.

The project – run by Sailing Cook Islands development officer Junior Charlie – has been a success, with the entire community taking a strong interest in classes.

Charlie and his training partner Taua Elisa Henry, as well as Helema Williams, are star Cook Islands sailors, having learned at their home club of Manihiki.

All have long term goals to be the first Olympic representatives in the Laser class for the Cook Islands.

An energetic preparation of boats for the series saw the initial number of participants grow to 45, and following its journey from Tukao to Tauhunu the fleet now includes about 80 children.

A final group of sailors to compete in the CIS Manihiki Optimist Championship comprises the best 20 of each club.

On Tuesday five top Manihiki sailors – Maui, Rafaera, and Tana Simiona, Tino Mareko, and Pearl Lazaro – travelled to Aitutaki with coaches Sheena Elisa and Munokoa Simiona.

Elisa and Simiona will join Aitutaki coaches for a training course run by Charlie before completing a race officers’ course with Andre Raoul – an international judge now based in Rarotonga.

With Aitutaki targeted as a major competition venue in the Cook Islands for sailing, race officers are set to enjoy some great experiences.

The course is being held in conjunction with the Cook Islands National Championships for optimists, laser 4.7s and HobieCats.

The championships start on Monday with 18 optimist sailors, a fleet of seven 4.7 lasers, and six HobieCats.

National championships for Laser (radial and standard), tangaroa class vakas, and radio-controlled electrons will be held at a later date.

All activities on Aitutaki are part of the continuing CIS development scheme.