Over 290 young sailors battled it out last weekend at the Volvo Gill Optimist End of Season Championships. The annual event is the last major event on the Optimist calendar and a chance for IOCA UK Worlds team members to compete against some top competition before they head off to Napier, New Zealand at the end of December.
Rutland Sailing Club once again played host to the event and offered challenging sailing conditions. Saturday saw the sailors tested with a grey and overcast sky and around 10 knots bringing a distinct chill. By race five on Sunday afternoon the predicted heavier forecast came in with around 16knots, gusting 22-25 knots.
Recently selected 2012 Olympic sailor Hannah Mills made a special appearance on Saturday to support the young sailors. “It’s been a really great day watching the racing on the water. I am so impressed with all the fantastic, talented sailing across both the fleets. Some of these young sailors are the future Olympians of British Sailing and it’s great to know we will be in safe hands.”
We had three Oppies in the Main Fleet. Arthur Brown put in a very impressive overall performance coming 73rd overall. Colette Bacon and Matt Jaysakera secured some excellent results considering that this time last year they were sailing in the Regatta Fleet. For this event they managed 109th and 120th overall respectively.
I was so pleased however with our Regatta Fleet sailors. Ben Hutton-Penman came 2nd overall and it was a truly brilliant performance for Ben who is still only 8 years old. He came first in his 3rd race. Well done Ben. For the two Pitcher brothers, Freddie and James this was their first ever event from home and despite the daunting experience of sailing against some 100 odd oppies they did brilliantly. James was 35th and Freddie 47th overall. Joining the fleet for the first time this year were the following sailors, Sophie Johnson who came 68th, Abigail Jayaskera (who is still only 8 and half the size of those in the fleet!) who came a very creditable 73rd followed by Max Willsher 74th who again had not competed away from home before. These guys deserve real recognition for what they have achieved – their aim was to complete the course and get round– they far exceeded that with all them having plenty of boats behind them!
So well done Oppie trainers. We are continuing to produce very good sailors so lets keep up the good work next year and hopefully a few more newcomers to the Regatta Fleet IOCA events.