by Clare Murray
Australian Optimist National Championship 2012 final day of racing got underway at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly. Conditions were too strong for the Green Fleet to race with 18 to 20 knots from the south creating short choppy seas.
2012 Champion Jack Graves - Australian Optimist National Championships 2012
Jack Graves has won after consistent racing on the final day of the series. 'I think it went better than I expected it to be honest,' Jack said. 'I was really happy with my performance. Top five was my goal and I made that. I was a lot more organised than I am usually at regattas and that helps mentally as well.'
After a strong start to the series, Jack’s plan became conservative racing. When his lead extended significantly later in the series he began to take more risks on the course. 'From then on I just tried to keep low scores like top five top threes which I managed to do alright,' Jack said.
Alastair Gifford from New Zealand finished in second place overall - Australian Optimist National Championships 2012
The top end of the Open Fleet was dominated by New Zealanders. Alastair Gifford was the highest placed Kiwi finishing second followed by fellow New Zealander Lola Stoodley in third. 'I reckon this club is a really cool club and Brisbane is just really fun,' Alastair said. When asked if he would consider moving to Brisbane however, he emphatically answered no.
The top five Australian competitors have now qualified to represent Australia in the next Optimist World Championship in the Dominican Republic later this year. Alistair Young, Jim Colley, Kyle O'Connell and Kye Evans will all join Jack in the Caribbean.
Jim said he was relieved and happy to have made the team. 'All my hard word has paid off. Well done to the race committee and all the sailors who raced in the big fleet,' Jim said.
Green Fleet winner Shannon Dalton - Australian Optimist National Championships 2012
Winner of the Green Fleet, Shannon Dalton was thrilled with her success after only ten months of sailing an Optimist. 'Mum and Dad are really proud of me. I didn’t think I’d do very well because I haven’t been sailing very long.' Shannon plans to race in the Open Fleet at the next nationals.
After racing was abandoned and rescheduled during the event due to strong winds, race management still managed to fit 15 races for the four open fleets. 'We are counting this regatta as a great success after all the strong wind we’ve had at the Squadron,' regatta organiser Carl Webster said.
'I think it was a fabulous regatta,' said Rob Ware, Chairman of the Jury. 'The race management was really good, the kids’ behaviour was good and the quality of the sailing was just excellent so it was very pleasing all round.'
Tomorrow competitors will take place in a team racing event before the closing ceremony and the final presentation.
To view race results click here.
Charlotte Alexander on Think Pink - Australian Optimist National Championships 2012