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The Magic Marine 2015 Optimist European Championships got off to an exciting start on the 18th July in Pwllheli, North Wales

20 July 2015

After a warm up race in a stiff breeze gusting over 20 knots and a 1.5m swell, teams from 37 countries were paraded through Pwllheli and on to the Plas Heli Welsh National Sailing Academy for the opening ceremony. Located in Snowdonia National Park Plas Heli is the perfect location for such an event with world class sailing conditions and onshore facilities.

With 256 boys and girls under the age of 15 racing is proving to be very competitive.

Qualifying races took place over the first three days with boys divided into three groups, Yellow, Blue and Red. The girls are divided into two groups, Yellow and Blue. Following these qualifications there will be 2 days racing in the finals.

Malta has a team of eight young sailors, Lucas Le Gault, Matthew Micallef, Gaby Mifsud, Jake Satariano, Antonia Schultheis, Richard Schultheis, Victoria Schultheis and Kane Seychell. They are accompanied by their coach Jean Paul Fleri Soler and team leader Anna Rossi. This young group are all dedicated seasoned sailors with the ability to race in a wide variety of conditions and have a high standard of competitive sailing.

On a good note, Victoria Schulteis recovered from a disappointing start to place first in two of the races and currently is in 8th overall place. Victoria Schultheis recently finished as second female at the popular Topsport Vlaanderen Nieuwpoortweek (Flanders). She is no stranger to Pwllheli waters having taken second spot overall (first female) at the 2014 Optimist Pwllheli International Optimist Regatta - the official Europeans test event - this time last year.

She said: "From sailing here last year I learned to not make too many tacks on the upwind like I'm used to. The wind conditions and waves are pretty similar to sailing at home but the wind shifts here are not so often as in Malta.

"I was pleased with my performance today because after the first race I wasn't expecting to be so far in front. I had better starts than in the first race and I played the wind shifts."

The Optimist is one of the biggest racing classes in the world and is widely regarded as a breeding ground for future international sailing success, with four-time Olympic champion and America's Cup winner, Sir Ben Ainslie, being a former Optimist sailor. Over 90% of sailors at London 2012 raced Optimists as juniors, including TeamGB medalists Hannah Mills, Saskia Clark, Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson and Luke Patience.

The event runs until the 24th July. You can follow the daily races on the tracker and results can be found through the official website www.optimisteuros2015.com ''