Bodrum prepares for World Championship

Bodrum is preparing for a big international sailing event, 2022 Arkas Optimist World Championship, 27 June – 7 July, 2022, which will see 100’s of young sailors and teams in the resort.

“This is the third time in the 60-year history of the Optimist World Championship that it is being held in Turkey – the last time was 2008 in Izmir and prior to that it was in Yarimka in 1976. This is the first time it is being held in Bodrum, one of the leading places for sailing in the region.

Arkas Holding is one of the most significant transport companies in Turkey, and will figure prominently as the main title sponsor of the championship. This sponsorship agreement will be a first for both Arkas Holdings and the Optimist World Championship.

The 2022 Arkas Optimist World Championship has 285 sailors registered from 62 countries around the world  –  a new record in terms of number of participants in the history of the event.

Competition is expected to be fierce during the 2022 Arkas Optimist World Championship in Bodrum.  The top sailors from each country will be testing their skills against the best athletes 15 years and under from around the globe.”

Back in early April, The Bodrum Echo intern student Alma Fortmann helped interviewed the BIOR race organizer.

The Icmeler Clubhouse and facilities have been rebuilt by the Bodrum Municipality. The first of the Optimist sailors are back in Bodrum in training  now at the Turkish Yachting Federation’s Optimist Training Regatta 29 May – 3 June

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Bodrum, the place of this year’s Optimist World Championship

Bodrum is a popular destination for a yachting and considered the Turkish home of sailing.

The origins of seafaring in and around Bodrum reach back the Bronze Age. Although it is not easy to tell what boats were built at that time, it is known that the Aegean sea trafficincluded Bodrum. It is also known that Bodrum, or rather ancient Halicarnassos, had war ships and that it participated in the sea battle of Salamis as part of the Persian fleet. During this period, Bodrum was a Persian sea base, and that was also the reason why Alexander the Great conquered Bodrum during his wars against Persia. Three famous admiralscame from Bodrum and two of them were women: Artemisia I (5thcentury BC)commanded five ships at the Salamis sea battle between the Greeks and the Persians, Artemisia II (4th century BC)defeated the Rhodians in the harbor of Halicarnassos and conquered Rhodes afterwardsand the male admiral Turgut Reis (1485-1565)who was one of the most famous Ottomanadmirals.

After these times of ancient golden glory sailing in Bodrum focused more on fishing and sponge diving, but boat building continued as a tradition in Bodrum.

With the introduction of motors and engines, sailing fell into obscurity to an extent everywhere, until it was only really rediscovered as a recreational and competition sport in the last century.

Bodrum with its perfect all-year sailing conditions, has become a major center for sailing for all types of boat classes from the small Optimists to large sailing yachts. Bodrum itself has four yachtclubs and they have been organizing the annual Bodrum International Optimist Regatta (BIOR) since 2013. BIOR has put Bodrum firmly on the training and competition map of young Optimist sailors, so much so that Bodrum will host the Optimist World Championship from 27. June to 07. July this year. We thought that was a great time to speak with SerdarÇakir, the organizer of BIOR. Serdar works with a team of 15 trainers and support staff and has been coaching young sailors at the Bodrum Sailing Club for many years.

Serdar recounted the history of BIOR for us. The idea of BIOR started in 2009 when (the Bodrum Sailing Club) saw that more and more Optimist sailors came to Bodrum in the winter to continue their training.  Bodrum has perfect sailing conditions all through the year, unlike northern Europe, where the sailing season does not last much more than 6 months. ‘We thought it would be great not just to support these young people in their training, but also provide them with an opportunity to hone their competition sailing skills.  That is when BIOR was born. We organized the first regatta in 2013 and immediately had a great response from many countries’, Serdar said.

Serdar and Alma

Since the first BIOR, every year around 300-400 sailors from more than 20 countries participate in the 6-day regatta. Typically, they arrive with their own sails but use the Optimists brought to Bodrum from sailing clubs all over Turkey. ‘Flying Optimists around the world is not very efficient.  Therefore, regattas are typically run with the boats available in the country that hosts the competition. This is also the approach taken during the World Championships’, responded Serdar to our question on how that many sailors manage to get their Optimists to Bodrum.

Optimists are sailed by children between 7 and 15 years old. That means a regatta with 300 participants also brings a whole host of accompanying adults – trainers, parents, etc. Each team has its own coaches that accompany the regatta in joker boats. That means a lot of people and boats in Bodrum! ‘The first two BIOR regattas we organized in May. However, we quickly realized that this created some logistical problems, as in May the season in Bodrum already begins.  Hotels get more expensive and are also filling up more quickly. Therefore, we shifted BIOR to March and that is when it has been taking place since 2015’, explained Serdar.

New meaning will be given to the term ‘logistics challenge’ with the Optimist World Championship. Five sailors from up to 60 countries will compete over a period of almost two weeks. Together with the Turkish Sailing Federation, Serdar prepared and submitted Bodrum’s bid to host the World Championship in 2019. They flew to Antigua, presented the bid and won against China because Bodrum is well known in Europe and with BIOR, has a successful track record in organizing large international Optimist regattas.

With this move, Serdar and his team have put Bodrum even more firmly on the map of international sailing competitions. We feel that he has been an inspiration for young sailors from all over the world and that he is very passionate about bringing young people into this sport. Therefore, we asked him if he had a message for children and young people.  Here is his answer: ‘Sailing isn’t just a sport. It is a lifestyle. Once you have come to appreciate the joy of harnessing the elements to your advantage in the competition, everythingwill be about sailing. If you want to win in competitions, sailing must become the center of your life.To be good you need about five years. But it is worth it. Give it all your time and passion.’

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