The Volvo Gill Optimist Inland Championships are the first ranking event in the Optimist sailing calendar. The annual weekend event draws competitive members of the class together following the winter season training and attracts over 250 of the country's top young sailors. For those that have not seen over 200 oppies on a start line it is a sight to behold. Competing in these ranking events is tough. The National Squad and Team all compete for places in the new round of rankings to obtain renewed squad places in the forthcoming year; it is hugely competitive.
The fleet was split into Main and Regatta.
Our best performer in the Main Fleet was Colette Bacon. She is still only 12 years old (IOCA 13) and achieved her best ever results to date in a ranking event. Overall she was a fantastic 16 out of 210 boats securing a 2nd and a 9th as two of her best results over the weekend. Arthur Brown was 26th reinforcing his position in the top end of this fleet only to be let down by a couple of races on the Sunday when conditions were very light and flukey.
An outstanding performance from Arthur Connolly placed him 82nd in his first main fleet Inlands which, as best placed East Optimist Zone squad member, was fantastic. Matt Jay was buzzing all weekend and whilst he secured an overall 98 above mid fleet his best result was a 32nd which was surely a mark of achievement given that he has not been devoted to his Oppie for the past year or so having spread his wings to the Feva Fleet. William Taylor secured a 108th and his sister again competing in their first Inlands Main Fleet secured a 173.
Ben Hutton-Penman was one of a number of sailors to secure a black flag in his first race which made life pretty difficult him on the discard front. Nevertheless with a 52nd as his best position and still only IOCA 10, he has plenty more in him yet. Luke Beuvink was also hit with a black flag on his first race from which recovery proved tough. Thanks particularly to his Dad who put on his waders and acted as beach throughout the whole weekend – thanks Jon.
Regatta Fleet this year consisted of 47 sailors. We can be very proud of our only Otter all weekend competitor this year – Charles Bacon (9) who came in the top ten in all but one of the seven races. He was 5th overall which was a fantastic achievement. Well done Charles. Felix Wallis was only able to sail on Saturday and despite having to count DNS for the Sunday still came 33rd overall.
Freddie and James Pitcher were under the weather - Fredie was too unwell to compete but his brother had a good outing for two races on the Sunday with one top 75 result in main fleet.
I should also note the achievements of our friends and sailing/training pals from the BSC/Blackwater. Hannah Tucker for her winning the ET’s and her selection for the Irish Nationals, Caitlin Morely for her well deserved 26th in Regatta Fleet and Sophie Johnson for first girl in Regatta Fleet (7th overall).
Well done to you all!
With thanks to the Volvo Cars Sailing Facebook page for the photos of the event...