The countdown is on for the 2019 Optimist World Championship being staged in Antigua for the first time in its history from July 6-16.

Young sailors from across the globe are preparing to go head to head on the water in this most prestigious youth sporting event.

With a record-breaking 65 countries taking part this year, hundreds of competitors, plus their families and supporters, are set to bring English Harbour alive during its traditional quiet season.

The participating teams’ boats have been shipped to Antigua and are now being unloaded as the country gears up for the participants’ arrival.

Participating teams’ boats have been shipped to Antigua and are now being unloaded ready for the races.

The event is a first for Antigua and only the second time it has been held in the Caribbean (Dominican Republic hosted it in 2012).

Members of the public wanting to get up close to the race action can book a spot on Wadadli Cats, the official spectators’ boat. There are also several excellent land-based viewing points, including Nelson’s Dockyard, Fort Berkeley, Fort Charlotte, and the headlands around Shirley Heights.

2016 Optinam. English Harbour, Antigua.© Matias Capizzano

  • The Optimist World Championship is one of the only sporting events in the world where boys and girls compete as equals. Girls comprise 18% of this year’s competing sailors. Eleven teams have two girls in their teams. One team (Peru) has three girls. And one team (Netherlands Antilles) has one sole female team member.
  • The start of the competition will be marked by a large cultural parade starting at 6pm on July 7 from Antigua Yacht Club to Nelson’s Dockyard. All 65 teams will be parading with their flags alongside volunteers, supporters and entertainers.
  • Antigua is once again leading the way on environmental issues. The 2019 championship will be a clean regatta, complete with a green team overseeing everything from waste reduction to venue management. This includes reusable water bottles for all team members which can be topped up at water fountains.
  • The first Optimist World Championship was held in 1962 and has taken place every year, except 1973, since.
  • The Optimist is a small, single-handed sailing dinghy that is understood to be the foundation of sailing and is sailed by youngsters aged eight to 15. Many of the world’s top sailors learned to sail in an Optimist.
  • Gold medallist in both the 2017 and 2018 championship, Marco Gradoni, of Italy, will be returning to defend his title.

To arrange coverage of the event, photographs, interviews and media access please contact Gemma Handy: or +1 268 784-5151.


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