Athens, Greece, Tuesday 25th September 2018.
The story starts back in 1981 when Nikos Lazos and Periklis Livas, aged 13 and 15 respectively, started crewing on board MARVIN, a DB1 3/4 Ton offshore racing Yacht of that era, owned by Stamatis Lazos, father of Nikos. “I was a 420 sailor at the time in Nautical Club Kalamaki located in Alimos Marina, Athens. One day I noticed a black mast sticking out in a forest of gold and silver plated masts made from sailing yachts moored in the marina. I took my bicycle to go see what boat was equipped with a black mast, met Lazos father and son and 38 years later we are still campaigning as a duo”, confess Periklis Livas. “On board Marvin we did learn quite a lot about sailing offshore yachts. My father was very charismatic and social personality and was inviting very talented and experienced sailors to race with us. Nikos Stavropoulos, Yannis Kakitsis, Antonis Bonas, Dimitris Deligiannis, George Ertsos, Tasos Boudouris, Elias Chatzipavlis and Armando Ortolano were among those that sailed with us and shared their deep knowledge and passion for hard racing, boat preparation, crewing, attention to detail, sail trimming, steering, everything”. From 1981 to 1984 on board MARVIN and from 1985 to 1989 on board MARVIN AGAIN (DB2-3/4 Ton) we averaged about 15 offshore races per year with various successes gaining valuable experiences, developing as a duo with Periklis and building the foundation for Team OPTIMUM”, states Nikos Lazos. This period climaxed with campaigning MARVIN AGAIN in the 1989 3/4 Ton World Championship and finishing 7th Overall and 1st Corinthians(amateurs) with an average age of 25 year old crew on board.
MARVIN AGAIN was sold and the duo split for studies in England and USA. On their return for the 1992 season, they were given as a gift (from owner Ritsi Frances who recognized their passion for offshore sailing) the Bruce Kirby designed One-Off striking red ½ Ton DON QUIXOTE IV built in USA in 1981. It was a very special racing yacht built from Kevlar and honeycomb that the duo brought back to life after sitting out on a parking lot for 10 years, after finishing 5th in the 1982 ½ Ton World Championship that was held in Athens, Greece. Don Quixote IV was campaigned hard in 1992 & 1993 competing in more than 25 regattas of the Greek circuit under IOR and IMS and posting absolutely only podium finishes overall. The duo felt confident of their steady performance and team they have assembled and went on to become one of the first teams that invested in the MUMM 36 One Design international concept taking hull no.3 from Beneteau.
In May 1994 OPTIMUMM arrived in Greece and OPTIMUM Yacht Racing Team was established. The MUMM 36 OD designed by Bruce Farr was a worldwide success with World and European Championships and most importantly the One Design boat chosen for the Admirals Cup. All the best pro-crews and skippers were hired to campaign Mumm 36s all over the world and in 1995 & 1996 that we were campaigning in the MUMM 36 European Championship we were calling “starboard”and “room” in tight mark roundings to the likes of Kostecki, Brady, Cammas, De Angelis, Vascotto, De Ridder. At the time, we had joined forces with Karolos Kioseoglou, owner of the other Greek Mumm 36 IVANHOE IV, and Team OPTIMUM was training and racing in Greece with OPTIMUMM and racing around Europe with IVANHOE IV. We were always on the podium on the Owner-driver standings and very close to it overall. In the 1996 Copa del Rey Week in Palma, Spain we finished 3rd overall and got our prize from the hands of Queen Sophia stating how proud she was as Greek herself to present the trophy for the first time to a Greek Team. In 1997, Team OPTIMUM was on a roll and heavy weight sponsors provided the means for OPTIMUMM 2, a brand new Ovington built MUMM 30. With OPTIMUMM 2 on a road trailer we moved around Europe competing internationally finishing 8th in 1997 Mumm 30 World Championship in Marseilles, France and 7th in the 1998 Mumm 30 European Championship in Punta Ala, Italy. In late 1998 OPTIMUMM 2 was sold to an owner in England and we continued our winning ways in the Greek offshore circuit racing OPTIMUMM (Mumm 36) under IMS. From 1994 to 2002 we competed 8 times in the Aegean Rally, the top and toughest offshore event in Greece, winning the top spot 4 times(1995-1997-1999-2001) and the rest in 2nd or 3rd place. OPTIMUM Yacht Racing Team has proved its continuity at home and abroad and Team leaders and skippers Lazos and Livas decided to move to big boat sailing and new challenges.
As such, in late 2002 they went in Annapolis, USA to ink the deal of purchasing the Farr 52 One Design CHESSIE RACING from George Collins, the last privateer entered in the then Whitbread Round the World race in the W60 class. The deal was a success as it included that a young and talented Team CHESSIE RACING crew member would join Team OPTIMUM to show us the tricks of the trade of big boat sailing. At the time, there was no other such big, modern and powerful thoroughbred carbon racing yacht in Greece so no knowledge of how to run one. OPTIMUM 3 arrived on a ship from Annapolis to Piraeus in Feb 2003, along with Ryan who was a fantastic coach from A (unpacking & setting up the boat) to Z(jibing in 30 knots) for two weeks. Team OPTIMUM worked hard and mastered to race the boat competitive pretty soon with the aim to compete in the Rolex Middle Sea Race in October. They did and on their second attempt in 2004 OPTIMUM 3 became the overall handicap winner in both IRC and IMS categories. Speeds of over 30 knots were recorded in various races in the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea over the years and Team OPTIMUM managed more international successful results. OPTIMUM 3 finished 5th in 2008 ORCi World Championship overall and 1st Corinthians(amateurs) and 9th in 2016 ORCi European Championship.
But the real story is written all these 25 OPTIMUM years on the companionship and friendships and experiences and challenges and good times and bad times and fun times and obstacles and difficulties and victories and everything we have gone through as a team of about thirty sailing enthusiasts that have invested time, money and effort. Our reward, our pride is on the will of young “under 30s”sailors that ask to join Team OPTIMUM and guarantee the continuity of Team OPTIMUM in the future.
To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of OPTIMUM Yacht Racing Team we are competing for 7th time in the 607 mile non- stop Rolex Middle Sea Race with a crew we call “Greek Dream Team” capable of repeating the 2004 triumph. This is the 50th Anniversary of this 600 mile classic race and the stakes are high.
Please, stay tuned for the OPTIMUM Greek Dream Team announcement.