USA cheating at Optimist championship

Published on April 20th, 2023

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
I’m no fan of all the international Optimist events that are promoted by the US Optimist Class. Aside from the World Championship, there are 11 other regattas in Asia, Europe, and South America on the USODA international calendar. For a boat intended to introduce kids to sailing, I fear the adults have lost the plot.

It’s not like all this high-level exposure (with significant cost) has led to the country dominating at the Olympics. Given the state of the US Olympic Program, we know it hasn’t. Odds are, the opposite has happened as kids burn out, but that’s just me just me shouting from my lawn. Get off!

The latest international field trip is the 2023 Optimist South American Championship being held April 15-22 in Paracas, Peru. Fifteen kids qualified for the event, and it was this US squad that was embroiled in controversy when their coach Fernando ‘Happy’ Alegre was caught cheating before the event.

Happy is a well known Optimist coach from Peru who has traveled the world offering his intensive training program, which at the South American Champs included making changes to the boats in conflict with the rules. The result from the jury was for three kids to be disqualified from the first race.

It makes me wonder what else he has been teaching kids, and how fortunate I am to live where the Optimist Class does not exist, and how my local madness by adults is constrained within the 100-mile radius of the Naples Sabot Class. I like my lawn!

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