Supported by Zhik and Yachting Solutions
A total of 43 Optimist sailors gathered at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Burnham to take part in the 2016 IOCA Eastern Area Champs.
The sun shone brightly on Saturday morning and following the briefing, PRO, Nick Hutton-Penman had no difficulty laying a course and getting the fleets away.
In Main Fleet, Jonathan Bailey of Hunts SC was fast out of the blocks and won convincingly from Terry Hacker also of Hunts SC and Zach Lyttle of Bowmoor SC.
In Regatta Fleet Alex Canham of Dabchicks SC led the way home from Harry Courts and Amelie Hacker.
At this point black storm clouds began dominating the sky from the north and the wind responded accordingly. First it veered north west and finally almost due north which gave the RIB crews a work-out as they laid and re-laid the marks. After further attempts to re-set the course further upstream at Creeksea, a second race was finally started. At the windward mark, however, the wind finally shut off altogether. The race was abandoned with lightning flashes all around. The Regatta fleet went on board the Committee boat to eat all the Race Committee’s biscuits and the Main fleet was sent to the river bank to wait for the weather to improve.
While they were waiting, the Main Fleet sailors devised various games including “toss the seaweed clump” and “sink your friend’s boat” - all great fun! Activities were finally interrupted, however, when it seemed that a further start might be attempted. Unfortunately, the wind refused to play ball and quickly switched from east to south and then back to west. The PRO reluctantly called it a day.
Meanwhile back at the club, the Mini Racers, under the watchful eye of Jonathan Hill and helpers, were having a great time. They managed to sail three races which were very competitive - each being won by a different sailor. Once ashore a prize giving was held with some useful kit and Zhik clothing awarded. The overall winner was Oliver Means, 2nd was Nathan Flynn and 3rd Thomas Bailey. Special prizes and mentions also went to Annabella Hacker, Anna Morris and Rosie Pank for good effort and improvement.
The PRO was under pressure on Sunday morning to get a series sailed - and so laid the course even before the briefing for the shortest possible delay in getting things underway.
It ended up being a long day, but 5 races were eventually sailed in near perfect conditions.
In the Main Fleet, Jonathan Bailey of Hunts Sailing Club sailed incredibly consistently and ended up 9 points clear of his nearest rival. Bailey always looked in control. He worked his boat very hard yet sailed conservatively to ensure that he was always around the front of the fleet and he built his series in exemplary style.
The Regatta Fleet sailed 4 races on Sunday and Amelie Hacker also from Hunts SC showed she is one to watch with 3 wins. Her rivals Freddie Fisher and Imogen Palmer, however, were very close behind and places regularly changed during the racing. Will Mears (who was 4th overall) sailed brilliantly but his lack of weight was clearly apparent.
There were so many notable performances from further down the fleets. We can’t mention them all, but some that were particularly impressive included:
In Main Fleet
- Ella Bowman (Aldeburgh) - stunning result in Race 2 taking an early lead and extending throughout the race.
- Theo Clifton (Dabchicks) - always up there and snapping at the heels of the leading pack - a clearly improved performance.
- Jemima Gotto (Wroxham) - hobbled down to her boat then sailed all day hiking out with a sprained ankle - pretty tough kid!
- Fin Morris (Dabchicks) - capsized during a race but within seconds had the boat up partly bailed and then sailed on - bailing furiously - having lost very little.
In Regatta Fleet:
- Will Mears (Otters) - winner of the prize for Gutsy Performance.
- Muiris Telford (Otters) - was Best Improver - putting in a very solid series (apparently he is now angling for a new sail so he can go even faster in future).