A fleet of 99 sailors aged 9-45 from around the world dunked their masts in the water and performed loops – besides sailing fast – in Thursday’s opener of the 2012 O’Pen BIC World Cup on Biscayne Bay.
Unlike most regattas, this event – hosted in the U.S. for the first time out of Miami Yacht Club – requires skippers to perform stunts successfully in addition to rounding marks ahead of the rest of the fleet.
“It’s a blast, and I didn’t need to do my yoga today,” said 45-year-old Julie Zahniser of Fort Pierce – the oldest sailor in the fleet.
Zahniser - the 1999 national champion in Mistral windsurfers and Optimist dinghy coach at the U.S. Sailing Center in Martin County- got to sail alongside her nine-year-old daughter Caroline Locke.
“It’s hard for me to watch these kids race and I’m just a spectator,” Zahniser said. “I wanted her to race in this because it’s a world championship and a great experience to race with kids from all over the world.”
Zahniser placed tenth in the Open division after four races. She admitted she was a little shaky about the “Spiderman” tip – the part where the sailors touch the mast to the water, but “Caroline showed me how to do it without getting wet,” she laughed.
O’Pen BICs are fast, durable single-handed boats made by the same company that produces ballpoint pens. Young sailors say they like the boats because they don’t have to bail them out and they are very hard to break.
The 2011 under-12 world champion, Geronimo Nores of Miami, is in third place in the under-15 class, behind leader Peter Dill of Bermuda and runner-up Andrea Stowosser of France. Nic Muller of Fort Pierce is leading the Open division. Other division leaders are: Lorenza Dessi of Italy (Open girls); Kristen Watley of Australia (Girls under 13); Cecilia Wollman of Bermuda (Girls under 15).
Racing continues Friday and Saturday in the bay between the Julia Tuttle and Venetian causeways. An awards ceremony will be held Saturday afternoon at Miami Yacht Club.