Last week one of the highest turnouts of Otters attended the National Championships in Pwllheli in North Wales. We had sailors across all fleets ranging from the Coaching Fleet to the top senior Fleet.
As is now common in this fleet there were over 400 Optimists attending the fleet. There were over a 100 boats from abroad - USA, India, Bermuda, Switzerland, France, Ireland, Spain to mention just some.
The weather started well with some sunshine and 15knots of wind but that soon deteriorated into a horrible windy and wet end to the week. 3 days of sailing was subject to A over P flags and the final day was cancelled. Force 6 gusting 7 winds mid week and torrential rain was very far removed from the lovely weather that the South East were experiencing all week.
The wave heights on day 2 and 3 were extremely challenging - 2-3 metre waves (higher than the Oppie Mast) led to particularly challenging conditions and decisions were made to postpone/cancel based primarily on sea state and visibility rather than wind speed which moderated a little towards the end of the week.
Arthur Brown (RBYC Cadets) won the Junior Optimist National Championships! A fantastic result and a real credit to his determination and will to win over the years. It was great to see a Burnham boat in front when over the past few years the South Coast have heavily dominated the rankings.
Otters Arthur and Colette Bacon qualified for the Main Junior Gold Fleet after a six race series. 172 boats started in the qualifying series with the top 86 making the Gold Fleet. Colette was 63rd overall, 32nd British Boat and 11th British Girl. 34 of the 86 boats in this fleet were from abroad including teams from the USA, France, Spain, Bermuda, Holland and India.
Matthew Jayasekara was 94th overall which given he has not sailed his oppie much this year was a creditable performance out of the 139 boats in his fleet.
There were 50 boats in this class with ages ranging from 9 to 13.
Ben Hutton-Penman was our leading Otter coming 4th overall with a best result of the week a brilliant 2nd. He was closely followed by William Taylor in 8th with a best result of 3rd for the week. He was followed by Freddie Pitcher who was 9th overall, with a best result of 2nd for the week. James Pitcher was 27th overall - to achieve a mid fleet consistent position was a great result. Luke Beuvink unfortunately could not complete 4 of the series through a nasty injury to his lip (boom injury) resulting in a hospital run and stitches. He received a resounding roar of support from the crowd during the prize giving for this brave and stoic attitude - real Otter spirit was shown. He was back in his boat for the last day and achieved his best overall result of 13th. Felix Wallis was 44th but due to illness was not able to complete the last two races - he was unhappily sick all the way home! This was a shame as his best result was a 15th earlier in the week.
40 boats, Charles Bacon 8th overall, best result of the week was a fantastic 2nd.
Abbey Jayasekara was 17th with a best result 12th. She was also awarded best member of her group for the week.
It is also necessary to mention our Burnham Sailing club friends who all did very well in what were particularly challenging conditions. Hannah Tucker(118th in Junior Main), Ellen Morley(128th Senior Main), Caitlin Morley(24th in Coaching)