Optimists Tasmanian Championship at Sandy Bay SC

Sam Abel leading Hugh Hickling in heat two of the Optimist Tasmanian Championship 2012
Rob Cruse
Optimists Tasmanian Championship is being held this weekend off Sandy Bay Sailing Club on Nutgrove Beach. The biggest fleet of Optimist dinghies seen on Hobart’s River Derwent, 58 in total, are contesting the event.

In 10 months time Hobart will see been between 200 and 250 Optimists on the river contesting the Australian Championships for the world’s biggest one-design junior sailing dinghy.

Sandy Bay Sailing Club, a small off-the-beach club that has already produced several world champions in International Cadets and Fireballs, along with Olympic and America’s Cup sailors, will host the Optimist nationals from 6-13 January 2013.

They will follow immediately after the club conducts the Australian and then World championships for International Cadets.

This weekend is seeing the first real Tasmanian championships for the Optimists, with Sandy Bay’s strong fleet boosted by entries from Hobart’s Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and Kingston Beach Sailing Club and from the two clubs at Beauty Point on the Tamar River, Port Dalrymple Yacht Club and the Tamar Yacht Club. There is also one entrant from Sydney’s Middle Harbour Yacht Club.

Racing in an Open and a Green division, the Optimists managed three races today in light 5-8 knot northerly breezes, the wind ‘going up in the air’ midway through the third race, in which only a handful of boats managed to finish the course. That was the last of the racing for the day.

Tomorrow, race officials are aiming for three or four races to make it a proper championship, but the forecast is not conducive for good sailing in these 2.36m, spritsail-rigged pram dinghies.

Today, however, competition was intense in the Open division, with a number of prominent Sabot sailors ‘jumping ship’ to try their hand in an Optimist, their sights on a berth for the Australian titles next summer.

Sandy Bay Optimist sailor Hugh Hickling (sail no 268) won the Optimist division of last weekend’s Crown Series Bellerive Regatta - Optimist Tasmanian championships 2012
Rob Cruse

Stand-out sailors in the Open division included SBSC’s Hugh Hickling and Hugo Hamilton, Sabot sailor Sam King from the RYCT, Sydney sailor Max Paul from MHYC and two promising girl sailors, Jasmin Galbraith from SBSC and Chloe Fisher from the TYC, who each won a heat today.

In the Green division for less experienced sailors, two young lasses from Sandy Bay, Alice Buchanan and Chloe Abel, impressed with their skills.

Racing is scheduled to start at 10am tomorrow.

Joshua Harris (sail number 1829) from the Tamar Yacht Club leads a group of Sandy Bay sailors around the leeward mark in the Optimists State champions, including Alexander Potter (782), Damien Messmer (784) and Lily Zeeman (973) - Optimist Tasmanian championships 2012
Rob Cruse