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SYC Opti Sailors Travel to China

Friday, 2nd August 2019

Three young sailors from Sandringham Yacht Club have been selected to represent Victoria and Australia in the 2019 Qingdao International Optimist Training Camp & Regatta later this month.

Liam Stevens (13 years), Dmitry Sorokin (12 years) and Lottie Griffith (9 years) will experience their first international regatta next week after being selected by the Victorian International Optimist Dinghy Association (VIODA) earlier this year.   Morgan Williamson from RBYC, India Sinclair from SSCBC and Harry Pilkington from Sandy Bay Sailing Club in Tasmania complete the Australian team.

Xavier Vandame, VIODA President added “This is an amazing opportunity for our VIC sailors to enter their first international regatta.  Over the years, VIODA has built a strong partnership with the Qingdao Administration Center of Sailing Sport.  This is not just a sport experience.  It is also a rich cultural experience where our young sailors exchange with kids from many nationalities and where they discover China and the Chinese lifestyle.  They also have the opportunity to reciprocate Qingdao’s hospitality and welcome some Chinese sailors back home.  For many VIC Optimist sailors, Qingdao was their first major regatta and the majority became top VIC and National sailors few years later.  We wish the team, coached by Sam Mackay, VIODA Head Coach, all the best in Qingdao!”

All the kids are excited at the prospect of travelling to and sailing in a new country.  Liam commented “I can’t wait to go to China and make lifelong friends, to see their city and culture.  I am also looking forward to learning new skills, sailing in different conditions and all that Qingdao has to offer.”  Lottie added “I’m looking forward to sailing in Qingdao and meeting new friends who we hope will come and sail in Australia with us.  It will be interesting to sail in an overseas regatta – I haven’t sailed outside of Victoria yet.”.  Dmitry is “really looking forward to having a great and warm time in China with my team and sailors from other countries. I expect myself to improve on sailing in big fleets, because there are a lot of participants.”.

Sailing conditions in Qingdao are quite different to Port Philip Bay – very light winds are the norm in summer, along with 30°C+ temperatures and high humidity. 

The kids’ parents (& friends of parents) are arranging travel, uniforms, host gifts & much more.  As Liam noted “I am really learning what a great community sailing is and how we support each other and share information.   So many people have been involved in pulling things together for us to go, including David Wassell at Aquatech who has been very helpful in getting team uniforms organized.”

The Qingdao / VIODA exchange is now in its’ 7th year and is highly regarded as a great learning opportunity for young Opti sailors.  More information on the exchange can be found on VIODA’s website:

Good luck, safe travels & fair sailing to Liam, Dmitry and Lottie!