On June 24, 2023, young KSSS sailor Henric Wigforss was crowned 2023 World Champion in the Optimist dinghy class. This fantastic result came after nine tough races in a fleet of 250 competitors from 57 nations in Costa Brava, Spain.
In the 1970s and 80s, Sweden had great success in the Optimist dinghy, but it took 43 years for the country to win gold in this boat class.
Five of six competitors on the Swedish team are KSSS sailors, showing the club’s strength in the Optimist dinghy class. Wigforss was a favourite to win, as he came in fifth in the 2022 World Championship and won this year’s Garda event, the world’s largest dinghy regatta with over 1200 competitors.
It was a thrilling finale in a long championship regatta series that began with six qualifying races. It was crucial for sailors to avoid major mistakes as only one race out of 12 could be thrown out. The qualifier was sailed in varying conditions, but overall, the regatta was characterized by lighter winds. Three of the Swedish sailors qualified for the gold final.
After two final races, it was clear that the gold would be contested between Wigforss and Team US sailor Travis Greenberg of St. Francis Yacht Club. Due to delays it was only possible to sail one more race. The US sailor had 13 net and 35 total points against Wigforss’s 21 net and 30 total points and Wigforss decided to go into match racing and forcing Greenberg down the fleet to count as his discard.
The duel started several minutes before the gun. The battle was fair and well performed by both sailors and Greenberg showed great sportsmanship when he extended his hand in a greeting to Wigforss after the finish line. The two young athletes displaying great skills and great conduct made an impression with many spectators around the course. It is likely that we will see future battles between these two sailors in other classes.
Wigforss’s title is the product of many hours with his friends in the KSSS training group and competing around Sweden. In the KSSS training group, teammates are main rivals but also at the same time the best of sailing friends, pushing each other to improve their skills, from the season’s first regatta at KSSS training centre in Saltsjöbaden east of Stockholm to the last regatta in Costa Brava.