Four teenage sailors have launched a campaign on local crowdfunding platform, ZAAR, to raise funds for participation in the 2018 Optimist World Championships as Team Malta. “Unfortunately, we do not get much funding, so we usually have to fund ourselves. This year, we have set up a crowdfunding campaign on ZAAR to ask for financial help, and we really appreciate any support in getting us there. We are hoping to make Malta – and everyone in it – very proud,” says Saul Vassallo, one of the four.

The team is set to compete against 258 sailors from 55 nations in a major sailing championship to take place in Limassol, Cyprus. “At the 2018 Optimist World Championships, we would be competing against the top five ranking optimist sailors from every country in the world,” Saul adds.

Saul Vassalo

The optimist sailing class is aimed specifically at youths under 15, who single-handedly operate a small, one-design boat no larger than 2.5 metres in length. Optimist dinghy sailing is one of the most competitive classes of sailing, with numerous international regattas held worldwide every month. Many Olympic sailors, including Ben Ainslie, started their careers in the prestigious Optimist World Championships.

The four sailors – Richard Schultheis, Saul Vassallo, Nico Dreschner and Antonio Gasperini – are all aged between 12 and 14 years old. They are members of the Malta Young Sailors Club, where they have already undergone extensive training and competed in a number of national ranking regattas to earn the privilege of representing Malta in major world championships.

Richard Schultheis

Practising all year round and participating in intensive monthly international training camps and regattas, two of the four boys have already recently won Gold and Bronze at this year’s ‘Jeux des Isles’ Island Games. The sailors are now confident that their prospects for attaining top positions in the Optimist World Championships are high, making sailing history for Malta and for local sailing clubs.

Before the championship commences, set to take place between 26 August and 6 September 2018, the Malta Team is seeking to raise €10,000 to cover the cost of travel, accommodation, uniforms and participation, as well as chartering the boats at the World Championships. The team already has one backer, The Jarhead Young Sailors Foundation, but donations from supporters via the ZAAR campaign will make a difference in their venture.

Based on the amount donated, backers will receive rewards – from mentions on the team’s social media pages to full corporate sponsorship campaigns. Donations are collected on the campaign’s website.