Future Olympian discovered?
by Suellen Hurling on 11 Mar 2011
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron is currently hosting the 2011 470 Australian Championship and whilst the serious side of the event takes place during the daylight hours, the fun begins once the sun descends to nightfall.
Malcolm Page, Josh van Roon, Mat Belcher Suellen Hurling ©
Each night the 470 sailors take to the water in the RQYS Poly Optimists for the Opti Challenge. Anyone is invited to attend and take part with $1,000 up for grabs over three evening events.
Last night it was young RQYS Optimist sailor Josh van Roon who smashed the fleet including 2008 Beijing Olympic Games 470 Gold medalist Malcolm Page and his skipper Mat Belcher.
The nine year old who weighed in at just 25kgs was the hot favourite amongst the 35 competitors and kept his cool throughout the evening.
When asked about his competition Josh was calm and collected and stated that he was 'here to win.'
With $100 up for the winner of the first night, it was obvious why Josh was so focused!
Josh started sailing at the RQYS Sailing Academy in January 2010 and since then has progressed to the Opti Racer Squad in his own boat and is a regular to Thursday night training sessions and club racing on a Saturday.
Malcolm Page may have won the Gold medal in Beijing but last night was unable to stir young Josh and was convincingly beaten by him in the round robin races prior to the semi finals.
'He was just way to fast for me!' laughed Malcolm. 'We may have a future Olympian on our hands!'
Australian 470 Coach Victor Kovalenko was also amazed by young Josh.
'He would be perfect as a future skipper. I’m going to keep my eye on him,' said Kovalenko.
After seven round robin races and four semi finals it came down to just four sailors for the grand final.
Josh raced against Australian Sailing Squad member Will Ryan, Dutch 470 crew Marieke Jongens and Iona College Team Racing sailor Daniel Stevenson.
It was Marieke who dominated the start but Josh pulled out the moves and after a skillful mark rounding covered her all the way to the finish and even pushed her off the course enabling Daniel to claim second place and take home $60 cash. Marieke finished third and was handed $40 cash whilst Will Ryan was disqualified for failing to wear a life jacket and getting his long blonde locks caught in the mainsheet block.
The Optimist Challenge continues again this evening Friday 11 March from 1700 hours. Everyone is invited to attend and take part in the event with tonight’s winnings jackpotting to $300.
There is more cash up for grabs with the RQYS Members Draw at 1930 hours with $1,100 on offer.
RQYS will also host a Youth Sailing Fundraising Day tomorrow Saturday 12 March with a handicap race around Green Island, learn to windsurf and stand up paddle board from 0800 hours, and stand up paddle board races from 1800 hours.
For more information visit http://sailing.rqys.com.au
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