The annual Volvo Gill Optimist Inland Championship saw some of the country's top youth sailors tried and tested at Grafham Water Sailing club. Over 260 Optimist sailors, split across Main and Regatta fleets, enjoyed two days of tricky, competitive racing and were challenged in mixed sailing conditions. Five races were competed by the Main and seven by the Regatta fleet over the weekend of 17th and 18th May with moderate winds and speeds of up to 12 knots.
Top performers from the weekend included Benno Marstaller, 13 (Restronguet Sailing Club/Mylor Yacht Club) who claimed the Inland Champion title winning all but one of his races. Following close behind in second and third places were West Mersea Yacht Club’s David LaBrouche (15) and Max Clapp, 14 (Royal Southern Yacht Club) who dominated the main fleet in 2012. The highest placed girl was Jenny Cropley, 15 (Royal Lymington Yacht Club) finishing fifth overall.
In the Regatta fleet it was Zachary Lyttle, 10 (Bowmoor) who claimed an impressive four top five placing’s including a first place. Hot on his heels was Nicklas Host-Verbraak, nine (Royal Lymington Yacht Club) who finished just two points behind Zachary. Kieran Young, 10 (Spinnaker Sailing Club) claimed third, while Sophie Johnson, 11 (Blackwater Sailing Club) took the top girls spot in the fleet finishing seventh overall.
Day one was action packed for the young sailors offering the best racing conditions of the weekend allowing sailors to complete three solid races. With strong consistent winds Race Officer David Campbell-James made use of his black flag in the Main fleet, with the 210 sailors pushing the start line hard.
Day two brought much lighter winds and unfortunately for sailors hoping for another day of consistent weather to be able to discard black flag scores from the previous day and be back in the hunt for top placing, Sunday’s conditions started slowly. After a slight postponement sailors headed out and were greeted by much gentler winds, reaching highs of around five or six knots and accompanied by patchier, tougher conditions.
Despite the race committees best efforts only two races were completed on Sunday taking the total number of races for the Main fleet throughout the weekend to five. David Campbell James, Principal Race Officer commented ‘we had hoped to get in three races today (Sunday). Unfortunately after the third race started the wind dropped to around 2-3knots, which was just too slow to carry on. All in all though, we managed five races, which made for a great
championship. Conditions have really tested the sailors and it has been great to see so many enthusiastic sailors out on the water this weekend.’
Another sailor who made an outstanding performance over the weekend was Haydn Sewell, 11 (Royal Victoria Yacht Club) who, having recently moved from Regatta fleet had only one result outside of the top ten finishing an impressive seventh place, making him the highest ranked Junior (under 13) sailor of the weekend. Commenting on his achievement Haydn said ‘It was a great weekend’s sailing. Going into the last race I knew I had a chance to get into the top ten if I got a good another good result. Finishing in seventh placing was awesome, I was so excited when I realised how well I had done and was very happy to win the trophy as the top junior.'
The next ranking event for the Optimist class is the Volvo Gill Optimist Nationals in Largs in 22nd July – 2nd August where Optimist sailors from around the UK will compete in the weeklong event.