Optimist Open and National Championships UK preview

Matt Whitfield 2011 Inland Champion - Optimist Open and National Championships 2011
Volvo Gill Optimist Open and National Championships is being hosted by Pwllheli Sailing Club, Wales from Saturday 30th July to Friday 5th August.

Some of the best of Britain’s up and coming young sailors are ready for a full week of racing at the 2011 Volvo Gill Optimist Open and National Championships. Over 450 British and International competitors, from 15 nations will take part in the annual event.

Racing throughout the week will be split into five separate categories, the Senior Fleet for those aged thirteen to fifteen, the Junior Fleet for those aged eight to twelve, Regatta Racing aged eight and above and for those that are looking for transition to the Junior fleet, Regatta Coaching for those competing at the event for the first time and Mini Racers aged eight and nine, who are just learning to sail.

'This year we have more international entries than last year with a number of new countries involved including South Africa, Kenya, New Zealand and Finland. It is fantastic to attract so many young sailors from across the globe. In the British fleets some of the top sailors have progressed and moved on so the regatta is wide open. The next generation are coming through and will be using the National Championships to find their positions within their fleets. It will be an exciting event for all' said Simon Rogers, IOCA (UK) Technical Officer.

In the senior fleet, 2011 World squad members will be using the opportunity to practice against overseas competition. 2011 Volvo Gill Optimist Inland Champion, Welshman Matt Whitfield (14, Penarth YC), Jamie Calder (13, Loch Tummel) and Joseph Burns (14, Spinnaker SC) are all looking to the take home the National Champion title. Gill Race Team member, Sarah Norbury will be looking to defend her top British girl title fending off competition from 2011 Euro team members Mimi El-Khazindar (14, Royal Lymington) and Georgia Booth (14, Scaling Dam SC).

2009 and 2010 Junior National Champion, Freddie Grogono (13, St Mawes SC) has progressed to the Senior Fleet and will be looking to triumph amongst his new competitors.

In the Junior fleet, 2011 Volvo Gill Optimist Inland Champion, William Heathcote (9, Royal Lymington) will be looking to repeat his success at Graftham Water but faces stiff competition from newly selected Gill Race team and World squad member Milo Gill-Taylor (11, Spinnaker YC).

From overseas Spain’s Nestor Cano (14, C Nautic Vilassar De Mar) and Ireland’s Peter McCann (14, Royal Cork YC) will be both be looking to repeat last year’s success with top ten finishes 'There are some really good sailors competing here in Pwllheli. It is my second National Championships over here and I really enjoyed last year in Weymouth and Portland. Compared to back home it is definitely wavier and the currents are different. It can also be hard to tell where the gust is coming from, but I’m really looking forward to getting out there and starting the racing' Said Nestor.

This is the first year that Volvo and Gill have jointly sponsored the Optimist Sailing Class in the UK and includes support for three major annual championships: The Volvo Gill Optimist Inland Championships, the Volvo Gill Optimist Open and National Championships and the Volvo Gill Optimist End of Season Championships which will be taking place at Rutland Sailing Club, 8-9 October.

International Optimist Sailing Class Association website