#oppieeuros2014 – Young sailors from 44 countries attended the formal opening of the European open championship of the Under-16 Optimist sailing class at Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin today.
The 253 youth sailors with their coaches and team leaders walked in a colourful procession from the Royal Marine Hotel where most of them are staying to the Town Hall where they were greeted by An Cathaoirleach Marie Baker. Eamon Gilmore T.D. spoke of the importance of sailing to the local economy and Frank O'Beirne, chairman of the organising committee of the future of lifetime sailing for the young participants.
The sailors then processed to the club where a welcoming speech was given by Liam O'Rourke, commodore of the Royal St. George with a reply by Lady Stanley of Alderley, vice-president for Europe of the International Optimist Dinghy Association. The official event flag was raised by Grace O'Beirne, one of the 14-sailor Irish team.
Many of the teams will have been encouraged by the presence of the ambassadors of their countries, those from Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, India, Netherlands, Norway, Romania and the deputy chef de mission of Russia.
These are just a few of the countries represented, 32 of them from Europe where each country may enter seven sailors including three of each gender, and 12 from non-European nations who can enter four.