Athens, August 5th,2018.
A week after the conclusion of the 55th Aegean Rally, Greece’s pinnacle offshore racing event, we realise the magnitude of the success Team OPTIMUM managed to score.
Although OPTIMUM Yacht Racing Team did not compete this year with its glorious Farr 52 ft OPTIMUM 3 which is up for sale, no less than twelve OPTIMUM Team members were found aboard four different yachts competing in the ORCi division that provides the winner of the event. Maybe it is a coincidence, but these four yachts with Team Optimum members on board managed the top four spots in the final scoreboard, keeping the OPTIMUM spirit alive and kicking.
More specifically, Nikos Apostolakis and George Eliopoulos on board GS40 CHIARA IASON were the worthy winners of the top spot. Owner/skipper Nikos Fotiou led his team to victory having signed them in early mid winter and allowed them enough time to blend their capabilities with the rest of his team. Hopefully, some OPTIMUM input along with other refinements made the difference and CHIARA IASON won the trophy convincingly this year after trying for seven years. Bravo!!!
Now, the main OPTIMUM effort could be found on board X-treme 37 AFRICANA. OPTIMUM Team leaders Nick Lazos and Periklis Livas along with key OPTIMUM Team members Kostas Makridis, Charis Mavrogeorgis, Gary Gabrielan, Tassos Dikastopoulos, Lambros Nakis and Tonia Bami were the lucky ones to keep the OPTIMUM flame alive during the transition period of downsizing. “We got introduced to Romanian Laurentiou Gaitan who was transiting his newly acquired X-treme 37 from South Africa to Romania via France by cargo ship and via Athens sailing on her own. He explained us that it would be a dream come true to participate in the Aegean Rally and he would be honoured if Team OPTIMUM could coach him, Cornel Panaite and Deea Buzdugan how to form a team and campaign a thoroughbred racing yacht. The desire not to break our consecutive OPTIMUM participations in the Aegean Rally since 1994 prevailed and we accepted the invitation not realising that 20 days advance notice were not enough for preparing boat and crew for a 10-day offshore race like the Aegean Rally. However, thanks to long time OPTMUM Team supporters, we managed to be boat prepared at the start line in Faliro but not crew prepared as we managed to hoist the sails and train on AFRICANA only once.
Giannis Kalatzis measured the boat under ORCi although he was overbooked, Stergios Papadopoulos accessed and processed the absolute basic hull repairs within a 2-day time frame, Stefanos from Iakovos Dalezios engine service shop solved our engine malfunctions for good, Patroklos from Quantum Sails made sure that the sail wardrobe can manage the task and George Balafas & Co of Meltemi Rigging made sure our rig would perform all the way. Moreover, it was the OPTIMUM Team members that put all the hard work on a daily countdown basis, understanding, checking, maintaining and preparing all boat subsystems for hard racing, following with precision the Optimum checklist that has evolved through the years. It was critical that all three Romanian AFRICANA-Team OPTIMUM members joined in the last few days before the start, worked on the boat, became part of the preparation process, were on board on the single training session and started melting in the Optimum culture. I was happy to sense a comfortable and easy going atmosphere on board at the start of Leg 1 although none was speaking their native language but english. In the four Legs formed by Faliro-Amorgos-Lipsi-Paros-Sounio AFRICANA-Team OPTIMUM managed a steady scoreline of 2,4,3,3 that translated to a hard fought 2nd place overall, since a unique 3-way tie for 1st place developed after Leg 3 completion”, says an enthused Nikos Lazos after proving that the OPTIMUM way of campaigning racing yachts delivers results and lots of fun.
OPTIMUM members Alexis Chrysochoides and Dimitris Mougios could be found on board race favourite and 3rd placed TP52 BULLET. They were recruited for the season by BULLET Sailing Team soon after the decision not to race OPTIMUM 3 was taken in early January. It is an honour for them to be invited to race on BULLET and certainly added more firepower to this already formidable and talented team.
Last but not least, OPTIMUM main sail trimmer Gerasimos(Gerry) Petratos joined X-41 IONIA skippered by the lovely couple of Tzanetos and Sandy Kyriakides. IONIA delivered what is considered by many a great performance and managed 4th overall. Gerry’s calmness is very constructive and his continuous strive for perfection on trimming must have added a bit to the success of IONIA in this 55th edition of the Aegean Rally. Word is out that he had the opportunity to add in the after-guard mix and contribute on the tactical choices.
“We are a tight bunch of guys that have raced extensively over the years, delivering repetitive good results on board OPTIMUM racing boats having fun at the same time. We knew that 2018 was going to be a transition year, and meeting with so many OPTIMUM members in the stopovers and sharing racing experiences from the top four boats was very productive. We are pleased with the way we handled the AFRICANA-Team OPTIMUM project, the great result we posted as a complete outsider and for making sure that our Romanian friends enjoyed and gained the most out of this campaign. We were also very supportive to all the OPTIMUM guys that wanted to race this year aboard other racing yachts and extremely happy for their successes. It is clear to us all that the OPTIMUM way of campaigning is well documented and delivers under any circumstances. Well done mates, sea you all out there soon!”, says Periklis Livas with a full smiling face.
To be continued…