he heart of Lightning Class sailing beats in Greece as of today, as the World, European and Masters International championships are to be staged this week and next in the Saronic Gulf, off the Athens coast. Organized by the historic Yacht Club of Greece (YCG), the races will involve more than 50 entries from all over the world, of which at least 10 are from Greece. There are many entries from the USA, while participants will also hail from Brazil, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the UK, Italy, Finland and Switzerland. «This treble competition we are hosting this year is a significant event for tourism, too, as 50 boats from 12 countries are taking part in the races,» stated YCG President Alexandros Papadoggonas. The official opening ceremony took place last night and the warning signal is scheduled for 1 p.m. today for the European and the Masters championships, with up to two races planned, weather permitting. Up to three races per day are scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday, with the awards ceremony to follow. Then on Monday the World Championship will begin with up to three races scheduled each day on July 23, 24, 26 and 27. Wednesday, July 25, is the reserve day. Prizes will be given next Friday evening. Giorgos Andreadis, the vice president of the International Federation, the International Lightning Class and the YCG, stated that this is an historic class with a very well-organized system around the world. «This year our race, too, will be under the flag of the International Sailing Federation as it celebrates 110 years since its foundation,» he said. «There is a significant increase in participants compared with the previous championship held two years ago in Chile. The athletes in this particular class are amateurs, however they spend plenty of money in order to take part in the races,» said Liza Stathatou, the head of the organizing committee. «This is going to be a tough contest, and a great experience for all of us, as it has been a long time since such a contest was last staged in Greece,» said Pavlos Caseley, a crew member aboard one of the Greek entries, that of the Yacht Club of Tzitzifies-Kallithea (NOTK) with Yiannis Pagakis as skipper. The championships are held under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism Development and the Deputy Ministry of Sports, and are supported by the Municipality of Piraeus and Superfast Ferries.