How it all began…

O’Neill Easter Optimist Regatta

1985: Pim Fromberg, rear commodore racing of YC Braassemermeer went to O’Neill headquarters in Voorschoten to speak with Rob Heilbron, at that time responsible for public relations. Pim wanted to initiate a youth event. Preferably for the Optimist Class. Rob, himself a catamaran champion, was in for the idea. A class event was born. The first year 75 entries. Among others Herbert Derksen. I was race officer at that time. The first race on the first day. 25 knots of wind. We went out with the starting vessel, showing off that we were there! We went downstairs to drink coffee, not expecting any Optimists. After a while we heard a lot of noise around the starting vessel. In the middle of all clapping sails Herbert was standing up in his Optimist shouting “ hey! Are we going racing or what!” We had never expected any boat to be on the water, but all 75 entrants were there.

The next year we had over 200 entries and the year after 320. That was too much for YC Braassemermeer, there was not enough space to accommodate so many sailors and their boats. So in a meeting with the Optimist Club Nederland it was decided that there would be an entry limit. The OCN wanted space for at least 65 Dutch Optimist sailors, the rest could be filled in by other countries. Upon their request we worked out an entry limit based on previous contestants. So the Scandinavians and the Irish had larger entries than all other countries. We later learned that they had selection races in their respective countries to decide who could participate in the O’Neill Easter Optimist Regatta. We felt very proud!

I remember one practice race (which we had at that time) where almost all boats where early. But about ten were behind the line. I decided to give an individual recall (X). One of our rescues was sent to the windward mark to write down all boats which passed the mark. Having that list, it was an easy deduction. All boats but the 10 where OCS.  Would you believe we had no recalls the rest of the week?

After the Braassemermeer time I have done many more events in Regatta Center Medemblik. The most memorable were the IFDS events. World championships for disabled sailors. But a fair share of fond memories earn the the Easter Optimist Regattas on Braassemermeer.

Ronald Dominicus