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Int'l Optimist Australian Championship - Win for WA's Annabelle Davies

by Peter Campbell / Sandy Bay SC on 14 Jan 2013
Open fleet lining up on the River Derwent - 2013 International Australian Optimist Championship Dane Lojek
The International Optimist Dinghy Championship on Hobart's River Derwent this week has witnessed 14 year old West Australian lass Annabelle Davies outnumbered three to one by boys on Hobart’s River Derwent, but today she again outsailed them to become the national champion for 2013.

Sailing again in fresh to strong winds, Annabelle won the final race in her fleet group, giving her an outstanding series that included five wins, five seconds and a third in the 14 races series.

Davies, from South of Perth Yacht Club, and also a member of Fremantle Sailing Club, will now lead the top five Australians to the 2013 Optimists world championship on Italy’s Lake Garda later in July.

Her victory climaxes a remarkable run of victories on the Derwent by young West Australian sailors over the past two weeks, including class wins at the International Laser Australian championships and the Australian Youth Sailing Championships.


Once again, the 130 Open sailors today faced a long day on the water with winds gusting to 30 knots, and more, for the final race and kicking up a difficult seaway on the broad reaches of the river. On the water at 10am racing in the Open division did not start until 1pm, with race one abandoned. Two more races were sailed with the fleet finally getting back to Nutgrove Beach and Sandy Bay Sailing Club until after 3.30pm.

The total fleet of almost 190 young sailors, aged from eight to 15, have displayed remarkable endurance as well as sailing skills over five days of intensive sailing involving up to five hours on the water and sailing in winds that have almost every day have gusted to 30 knots and more.

Today’s final two races for the Open fleet saw New Zealander Nick Egnot-Johnson finish at the top of the leader board with a net 18 points after a first and a second on the last day.

The son of Kiwi Olympic sailor Leslie Egnot won seven races and his two discard races were a third and a fourth to finish the regatta on 18 points, but he is not eligible for the Australian championship title.


Australian champion Annabelle Davies finished with 23 points, well clear of her next Australian rival, Thomas Cunich (Qld) on 34 points, Blake Selley (NSW) 36, Max Quirk (Qld) 37 and James Grogan (Vic) 39 points.

This is the last year in the Optimist dinghy, the world’s largest junior sailing class, for Annabelle, a student at Applecross Senior High. She hopes to move into a high performance, double-handed 29er skiff.

In three years sailing in the Optimist dinghy class, Annabelle has made the National team for a fourth year, late last year winning the Optimist class at Sail Melbourne.

'I’m really proud of the performances of all the sailors from Western Australian who made the long trip to Tasmania,' an excited Annabelle said after the final day of racing at Sandy Bay Sailing Club on Nutgrove Beach, just ten minutes from Hobart’s CBD. 'It’s also been a wonderful experience to meet other girl sailors here at the regatta and I hope my win will encourage other girls into sailing….it’s such a wonderful sport,' she added.

Annabelle is coached by her father Mike Davies and is a member of South of Perth Yacht Club and also Fremantle Sailing Club.

Of the other 16 WA sailors who contested the International Optimist Australian championship, Campbell Stewart from Hillarys Yacht Club, placed 14th overall and Jayden Dalton from South of Perth Yacht Club 19th in the 130 boat Open fleet.


In the Green fleet, Jesse Smith, from Fremantle Sailing Club, who is legally blind, finished 35th in the 59 boat fleet.

Third place in the Open fleet went to Thomas Cunich from Queensland’s Southport Yacht Club, who finished the championship in great style, three wins and three seconds for a net 34 points, two points ahead of Blake Selley from the Woollahra Sailing Club in Sydney, with just one point to Queenslander Max Quirk, from Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.

To complete the close battle for third overall, just five points between four boys from four different States, James Crogan, from Victoria’s Black Rock Sailing Club, who placed sixth on 39 points.

Top placed Tasmanian was Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania member Sam King, who last week placed third in the Sabot Australian Championship, finishing eighth overall. He will make the top 25 team to go overseas to contest selected championship, as will Hugo Hamilton from the host club, the Sandy Bay Sailing Club.

Annabelle Davies also won the trophy for first female, with second place going to Queenslander Eva Lorenz from the Whitsunday Sailing Club, third to Chelsea Connor from Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.

Top placed sailor in the Under 12 group was Max Paul from Middle Harbour Yacht Club while Whitsunday Sailing Club’s Hamish Swain was the leading Under 11 sailor and Stella Sharman from Mornington Yacht Club in Victoria the leading Under 10 competitor.

After a couple of frustrating days, held ashore because of strong winds, the Green fleet eventually sailed 10 races with the winner being another West Australian, Anton Albrecht from Fremantle Sailing Club. Second place went to William Cooper from Tasmania’s Sandy Bay Sailing Club, third to Axel Fleet, also fro Fremantle Sailing Club.

Tasmanian sailors filled six of the top ten placings in the Green fleet, with Ruby Lowe from Tamar Yacht Club the leading girl sailor, seventh overall and just one place ahead of Alice Buchanan, daughter of Sandy Bay Sailing Club vice-commodore Ric Buchanan.

Some wellknown sailing names were among the young sailors in the Optimist championships.

In addition to regatta winner Nick Egnot-Johnston and his sister Sophie (31st overall), children of New Zealand Olympic sailor Leslie Egnot, Hugo Hamilton (26th overall) is the son of former world Fireball champion Stewart Hamilton, while South Australian Mal Higgins, who last week won the Australian Sharpie championship had two sons sailing in the Optimist fleet, Angus in the Open and Jack in the Green fleet.

Past Australian Olympian and Cadet world champion Jenny Lidgett’s daughter Emma was sailing in the Open division while ocean racing yachtsman Grant WHarington’s daughter Georgia finished 17th in the Green fleet.

Lockey Prescott, son of wellknown Tasmanian ocean racing yachtsman and Melges 32 chamion Greg Prescott, finished 10th overall in the Green fleet.

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