Shifty Conditions for the Otters at the Optimist Inland Championships
As usual the fleets were split into two, the less experienced sailing in Regatta fleet with 90 entrants and the remainder in Main fleet with 220 entrants. Conditions were difficult, especially on Saturday, with an uneven shifty breeze and wind strength between 10 and 15 knots all weekend but stronger on Sunday.
We had a number of "first timers" in Regatta fleet and considering this was their first real experience of large fleet sailing they did really well - 45 on the start line (the starts were split into flights) is a lot compared to our usual 20 on the Crouch. Our first sailor home was Matt Jayasekara who finished a brilliant 35th (best results 4th and 10th) followed very closely by Colette Bacon who came 41st (best results of two 6ths).
Our other sailors were little Matthew Braybrook who came 54th (great result), Louis Brand 57th (unfortunately Louis had to count a gear failure DNF whilst lying in the top 3!) and Angus Eckstein (who defied both his trainer and his parents by cruising leisurely around the course but he finished every race and normally had a smile!).
Main fleet is very hotly contested with "I" or "Black" flag starts the norm. If you are not on the line you are out at the back but the margins are so tight. This was clearly evidenced by Hamish Eckstein who was 3rd around the windward mark in Race 5 only to find he was called just OCS - good job, Hamish, for being where you should be and that is on the front row even if at times you just get it slightly wrong.
James Hutton-Penman and Thomas Johnson both sailed superbly all weekend and came 19th and 21st overall, both having to count one race which was effectively around 50th and both having three results in the top 10 - there was only about 10 points covering places 10 to 20 so it was very tight at the front.
Our other Otter positions included Arthur Brown 114th (and 4th 10 year old which was fantastic), Chay Taylor 117th (another great result from young Chay), Hamish Eckstein 123rd (but things would have been so different had he counted a 3rd rather than an OCS), Kathryn Hutton-Penman 155th and Isabella Minks 184th.
A really big well done to all our sailors who competed, this is tough sailing with the best sailors in the country. The fact that two Otters got awards at the prize giving is great, but the fact that we have such a good number of children who are representing our club is even better and you all did your trainers and fellow club sailors proud - well done!