Kalamaki, Saturday, July 29th, 2017.
We managed to win the 54th Aegean Rally 2017, like we did last year in the 53rd edition. It may sound easy but we can assure you that’s not the case. Optimum Yacht Racing Team was established in 1994 and since then we have participated every year in the Aegean Rally, bar 1996 that we were busy racing hard in Palma, Spain. So, in 23 participations, we have reached the podium 19 times, 9 times 1st, 6 times 2nd and 4 times 3rd but never scored back to back victories. The Aegean Rally proved once more that 300+ nautical miles and three island stopovers during the strong North “meltemi” winds season is not for the faint. Winner is usually the one who press hard most of the time but has the experience to back off and avoid breakages that might translate to retirement. This year we did not press as hard as we usually do and we throttled back more than ever before. And we still won by scoring 1st from Faliron to Siros, 1st from Siros to Chios, 3rd from Chios to Skiros and a 3rd on the coastal race in Skiros, four nicely podium race finishes.
“The secret of our repeated success over the years lies in detailed boat preparation before the start, crew selection by blending mature and experienced crew members with young and hungry to win newcomers, smart tactics based on extended meteorology study and above all knowing how to sail OPTIMUM 3 to its max most of the time. In addition, our skippers are racing around the Aegean as an inseparable duo for 35 years now, and half of the crew is racing with them for more than 10 years on board OPTIMUM 3 who runs her 15th season in their hands. This is serious experience and solid background; others call it luck..” says trimmer Gerry Petratos, a key Optimum member for many-many years now.
Alexis Chrysohoides top Optimum trimmer and loyal Team member for 15 years continues: “Nikos and Periklis believe that Optimum Team will exist and progress only if there is a continuous stream of new young crew members filtering in the team constantly. And the Aegean Rally is the perfect test ground for newcomers to see if they fit in OPTIMUM mentality. As such, no fewer than four sailing addicts joined the Optimum ranks and shared the effort and the glory. Stamatis Lazos, the 14 year old son of skipper Nikos Lazos took a break from his Optimist commitments and made his debut in the final coastal race in Skiros, handling successfully and enthusiastically the runners. Odysseus Kantas, an under 30 offshore sailing enthusiast tried his luck as an Optimum mastman, enjoyed the ride and on his return in Athens enrolled in a serious gym course. Giannis Kavalaris, a sailing friend and member of our home Nautical Club of Kalamaki, was invited to help as a pitman and grinder and impressed us all with his skills and manners. Last but not least, we had the opportunity to have Dimitris Mougios on board, an Olympic silver medalist in rowing in Beijing 2008. A-top athlete mentality and a great guy to hang around who asked to share this with you all: ” Sailing in the Aegean sea with Team Optimum has been a great and totally new experience to me. Cooperating on board with 14 different personalities was fun and challenging. Meeting sailors of such a high level was inspiring! I will definitely take up Offshore sailing not only as a hobby but also as a way of life. Many thanks to both skippers Mr Livas & Mr Lazos and the rest of the crew, who gave me the opportunity to be a member of their team and win the 54th Aegean Rally”. As they say, the rest is history…
The 54th Aegean Rally racing wise was not extreme, we never had more than force 7 winds or seas, but it was long, tiring and intensive all the way to the coastal race in Skiros which proved to be the most welcoming stopover of this year’s course. The result proves that the old gang of Stratis Tsabarlis, Nikos Apostolakis, Kostas Makridis, George Kyragiannis, Tassos Dikastopoulos, Manos Roudas, Charis Mavrogeorgis, Gerry Petratos, Lambros Nakis, Manolis Markogiannakis, Alexis Chrysochoides led by skippers Periklis Livas and Nikos and surrounded by the above newcomers formed an Optimum group that this year led the standings from start to finish. You can call us the “lucky bunch” or any combination that includes the word luck, but we on board OPTIMUM 3 know that Charis called loudly every shift, every gust and every wave for 10 days up to the finish of the coastal race in Skiros. That’s our luck!!!