Last month, the U.S. Optimist Dinghy Association’s (USODA) International Committee announced that the Annapolis Yacht Club’s (AYC) Optimist Head Coach, Tomas Ruiz de Luque, was selected as one of two coaches who will take fifteen U.S. Optimist Dinghy sailors to the 30th Magic Marine Easter Regatta in The Netherlands, March 29 – April 7, 2015.
Mr. Ruiz de Luque will be coaching alongside Richard Feeny, a sailing educator and coach from Rhode Island. The pair was hand-picked, along with six other coaches, from seventy-one applicants that included coaches from all over the U.S.
“It’s an honor to be named among the other coaches, because they’re some of the best coaches in the country,” says Mr. Ruiz de Luque. “To be one of the eight in this international events selection is amazing. It speaks highly of the AYC Junior Program, without which, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to do this.”
The eight coaches will work in pairs to train their respective teams, which are comprised of fifteen of the top sixty Optimist Dinghy sailors who had qualified at the USODA Midwinter Championship in New Orleans, Louisiana, during Thanksgiving weekend.
Each team will then respectively, represent the U.S. at one of the four international regattas: XXVI International Palamos Optimist Trophy in Palamos, Spain, XXXIII Lake Garda Optimist Meeting in Riva de Garda, Italy, 30th Magic Marine Easter Regatta in Braassemermeer, Roelofarendsveen, The Netherlands, and IODA (International Optimist Dinghy Association) South American Championship in Paracas, Peru. Both the coaches and sailors were given the opportunity to choose which regatta they would prefer participate in, however the USODA will make the final decision.
Mr. Ruiz de Luque says he chose to coach at the 30th Magic Marine Easter Regatta as his first choice because, “I’ve never been to Holland and I wanted to see the country. I also liked the idea of getting to know new sailors and helping them learn and perform to the best of their abilities.”
He added that for the Optimist sailors who will be going to the Easter Regatta, “they will get to know a different country and a different culture, but they will also get to share the same passion for sailing as the other international sailors that will be there. That passion is the same everywhere.”
In the coming weeks, Mr. Ruiz de Luque and the other coaches will be informed of who they will be training, and in February, they will head to the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami, Florida for the U.S. National Team Practice. This will be the first time that the sailors and coaches will meet and prepare for their respective regattas.
Joel Labuzetta, AYC’s Sailing Director, said that Mr. Ruiz de Luque’s, “dedication and hard work has definitely made a clear impact on the AYC Junior Program and it’s nice to see the USODA recognize Tomas for that.”
Being chosen to coach for the 30th Magic Marine Easter Regatta is especially significant for Mr. Ruiz de Luque, because his predecessor at AYC, Juan Carlos Romero (who was also selected as one of this year’s coaches and will be attending the XXXIII Lake Garda Optimist Meeting in Italy), had previously been selected as a U.S. Team coach for the same regatta, which had been held at the same time of year and location as the one Mr. Ruiz de Luque will be attending this spring.
“I even have a picture of Juan at the Magic Marine Easter Regatta hanging in a frame behind my desk,” Mr. Ruiz de Luque said.
Mr. Ruiz de Luque added, “it’s going to be a very nice regatta. Very competitive and with the best sailors from Europe. I’m really looking forward to it.”