IOCA Eastern Area Optimist Championships 2014

»«Monday 14th July 2014

The Royal Corinthian Otters hosted the championship at Burnham this year, assisted by the Burnham Sailing Club. Twelve entered the Race fleet, with entrants from Cam SC and Hunts as well as from the Blackwater Sailing Club and local boats. The Regatta fleet had 22 boats entered with a wide range of experience.

The tricky conditions meant that the Race Officer had to work hard to get the fleet off Spring tides and incredibly fickle winds made a challenge for sailors. The wind was mainly westerly and the tide was flooding for the first race. The course was a windward leeward with wing mark.

The race fleet started race one with no one OCS. Thomas Bryant got a good start and the pack followed closely behind. He was first round the mark and went over towards the South shore with two others, and another sailor stayed in the middle of the tide. The majority of the fleet took the North Shore, tucking up to run down river out of the tide. Burnham Sailing Club's Charlie Harbott worked his way through the fleet and came out in the lead; he over stood the mark slightly, but still took line honours in the shortened race.

The three that took the South Shore did cross prior to the Committee Boat, but two crossings of the tide took its toll on their position. Also working the North Shore well were Otters Freddie Pitcher and Ben Hutton-Penman who came in second and third respectively. Their second race was started and again Ben Hutton Penman was having a great race, leading after the first lap, followed by Thomas Bryant, but unfortunately the combination of decreasing wind and strengthening tide led to that race being abandoned too.

The Regatta fleet was led by Dylan McPherson from the Burnham Sailing Club; he was coming in towards the finish line but increasing tide and a failing breeze meant he was unable to finish, and the PRO had to abandon the race, and consequently racing for the day.

The Sunday saw much better winds and the Race Officer was looking to get in four races if possible before the wind dropped and the spring ebb kicked in. This time the fleet were taken down river by the Race Officer to race off the Pile House area. The westerly wind went southerly during the racing and course adjustments meant that there was always a good beat to the windward mark.

The Regatta fleet completed their first race of the event; 14 boats raced and the course was shortened after one lap. Matilda Evans from the Blackwater Sailing Club won with Lloyd Taylor second also from the Blackwater Sailing Club, with Charlotte Lane from Cam SC third.

The Main fleet raced for two laps, with closely contested racing, with Thomas Bryant, from Cam SC leading the race and finishing first, however, he had to take a penalty, putting him down two places. Corinthian Otter, Ben Hutton-Penman finished next, followed by Blackwater SC sailor, Sophie Johnson.

The second race of the day followed quickly. Again the Regatta fleet completed just one lap. Aimee Taylor from Blackwater SC won by a good distance from Charlotte Lane with Matilda Evans third. In the Main fleet there was a general recall, and then the black flag was flown. Again, Ben, Will Taylor, Freddie Pitcher and Thomas Bryant were up at the front, and Freddie had led the fleet for the first run, but nearly missed the gate out and lost places. Ben won, from Will Taylor from the Otters with another Otter, Freddie Pitcher third. The third race, which proved to be the last race of the day for Main fleet saw Sophie Johnson win after some very close racing, with Jonathan Bailey from Hunts SC in second, Ben third and Thomas fourth.

The Regatta fleet had two more races. Race three saw the Regatta fleet again make a great start; Kane Gooch from Blackwater Sailing Club won, with Aimee second and third place going to Felicity Brellisford from RCYC Otters. The Burnham Sailing Club sailor Dylan McPherson took fourth. In their last race which was shortened saw Aimee Taylor take her second bullet, with Matilda second and Lloyd Taylor, Aimee’s younger brother, third. James Ball from the Otters was fourth.

The IOCA Eastern Area Champion was Ben Hutton-Penman who received the trophy from organiser Jason Phelps with other prizes kindly donated by Yachting Solutions. Sophie Johnson was runner up with Thomas Bryant third. Only 2 points separated 3rd from 7th, with Thomas on 11, Will Taylor and Jonathan Bailey on 12, with Will taking fourth, and Charlie Harbott and Freddie Pitcher on 13, with Charlie taking 6th on count back.

In Regatta Fleet, Aimee Taylor received the trophy and the runner up was Matilda Evans with Charlotte Lane third, and again prizes were kindly donated by Yachting Solutions. Corinthian Otter Charlie Corbett got the prize for being youngest competing sailor, at eight years old. It was a great event with very tricky wind and tide, and the organisers and race officer not only ensured good racing, but laid on fun entertainments on the Saturday evening for all to enjoy.

Sally Harbott