Team USA defeats China to win Optimist Worlds

U.S.’s youth sailors win second straight title in Thailand.

PATTAYA, Thailand — A United States youth sailing team defended its International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) Challenge Cup trophy as USA defeated China in a multination race, July 17.

Team USA edged Team China in the winner-take-all Sail Off competition at the 2017 Optimist World Championship in Pattaya, Thailand (about 93 miles southeast of Bangkok).

United States and China were the last two countries standing in a competitive field of 16 entries – all of which had a chance to win thanks to the competition’s double elimination rule.

China had to face five teams – Hong Kong, Malaysia (twice), Brazil, Great Britain and Singapore – before reaching the final event versus the United States. Team USA, meanwhile, had a slightly easier route to the finals, facing off against four teams – Ireland, Germany, Thailand and Singapore.

The Sail Off competition was a best two-out-of-three race, with Team USA claiming the first match and Team China forcing a do-or-die situation with a second match victory. Both teams were neck-in-neck during the final battle, but the United States prevailed in the end.

Malaysia finished the Optimist World Championship team competition in third place.

The United States won its second Challenge Cup team-racing trophy in as many years; only one member, Justin Callahan, returned from last year’s winning team.

Stephan Baker, Liam O’Keefe, Charlotte Leigh and Mitchell Callahan (Justin’s twin brother) were Team USA’s other members. Lior Lavie coached the team.

Royal Varuna Yacht Club organized the 2017 Optimist World Championship in conjunction with Yacht Racing Association of Thailand and the Junior Sailing Squadron of Thailand. This year’s competition featured 281 sailors from 62 countries, an all-time high.

2017 Optimist World Championship photo

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