When Paola Vittoria took on the role of Head of the Organising Committee for Antigua 2019, she did so to bring an amazing event to the small island of Antigua, to help support sailing for the next generation and to use her experience to benefit others (Paola is an Olympic sailor having competed in the 1992 Olympics representing Antigua and Barbuda, and part of a family of sailors, both professional and adventurous).  Organising such a big event is not an easy job however and as the regatta approaches (it is now only 2 months away) we catch up with her to discover what a ‘normal day’ looks like.

‘At the moment every day is work.  I wake up around 5-6am and the first thing I do is check my emails.  I think it’s so important to keep on top of them and to reply to people quickly.  People always appreciate that.  3 times a week at 6.30 am I then go to Ellis Boot camp class at Pigeon Beach, it’s a beautiful beach in Falmouth Harbour and the class is a great group of all different ages and fitness levels.

Returning home I have a quick breakfast of Weetabix or some homemade kefir and then its time to work through my to-do list.  I have a spreadsheet which I update everyday to make sure I don’t forget anything and that I have all the actions logged and I know who is responsible for what (on the committee).  Checking registrations takes up a lot of time.  I need to make sure that all the teams who are coming have followed the right steps and know exactly what they need to do to get here.  We have 64 teams registered now, which is a new world record for Optimist sailing.  I’m so proud of being able to get to this number, for a tiny island like Antigua to be able to host so many countries is amazing and I never thought we would have been able to get there.  We have such fantastic conditions for sailing in Antigua; warm water, constant tradewinds and a great host and venue in the Antigua Yacht Club and Nelson’s Dockyard, I’m just very excited that so many people will get to experience them.

I don’t really stop for lunch but always try to go swimming or snorkelling for an hour or so.  My favourite spot is Windward Beach – a pretty deserted spot and a great place to recharge.  Since starting this role, about 80% of my time and commitment has been on the event and I need to take a break each day and escape for a bit.  Being by myself in the sea has to be my favourite part of the day.

The afternoon is spent checking and responding to emails and then preparing for the Committee meeting.  This happens once a month and involves x people who cover everything from the marketing to measuring the equipment.  The group is really diverse and has to cover a really wide range of topics so I need to make sure I know exactly what I want to cover and who needs to be responsible for what.  Everyone is a volunteer at this stage and trying to fit the role around other jobs and commitments but we do our best and hopefully that will result in a great event.

When my family is home I normally cook dinner for us all around 7.30pm.  I’m Italian so pasta is a frequent dish, often with some fresh fish caught by our good friend Nico and vegetables.  We’re lucky in Antigua to have locally caught fish available all year round so I make the most of it.

I normally go to bed between 9 and 10pm and I’m exhausted!  Organising an event like this is all consuming and takes a huge amount of time and energy.  I’m really passionate about sport from an early age though and am positive that we will open many doors for our future generation.’

For news and updates on the 2019 Optiworlds, please visit the website – http://2019worlds.optiworld.org