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Volvo Gill Optimist British National & Open Championships Overall

by IOCA UK 13 Aug 2018 11:26 PDT 4-10 August 2018

The Volvo Gill Optimist British National and Open Championships concluded at Plas Heli, Pwllheli, with overall victory for Bermuda's Christian Ebbin and the British championship win going to Emily Mueller - who becomes only the third-ever girl to win the national title.

Emily, of Royal Lymington YC, was leading the charge for GBR along with her brother Ben at the mid-way point after two days of qualifying races. Following a further two days of gold fleet racing Emily managed to hold onto her lead to finish fourth overall in the open fleet and claim the British Optimist title.

Top boy in the British standings was Will Pank (Norfolk Broads YC), who made an impressive comeback after taking forward a qualifying score of 77 to conclude his regatta counting an ever-improving 7,4,3,2,1 from the final series to finish 7th overall.

It was tough racing in the 154-boat senior main fleet with a strong international contingent and six races over two long days of relatively light winds to decide the championship series.

Second and third boys in the British fleet were Henry Heathcote (Royal Lymington) and Joshua Means (Horning/NBYC); second and third GBR girls were Florence Brellisford (Corinthian Otters) and Ella Lance (Hayling Island). Second overall in the open fleet was Alfonso Moreno (ESP) with Harry Twomey (IRL) third.

Emily will now see her name on the trophy as only the third girl to ever win the British Optimist Nationals, along with double Olympic medallist Hannah Mills, and Vita Heathcote, who has just won silver in the girls 420 at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Texas.

"I usually do well within the girls fleet but I never thought I would be able to beat all the boys too!" said Emily, aged 15, following her last Optimist event before moving into 29ers. "I have done lots of hard training this past year with a great, fun group of sailors. It is the perfect way to end my seven years sailing the Optimist."

Having just missed out on a podium finish at the Optimist Europeans in Holland this summer, Emily was able to take forward her experience from that event to achieve success at the nationals: "I learnt from the mistakes I made there and made sure I stayed calm this time around. I realised that you have to work for every start; you don't just do well in the next race because that's how the rest of the event has been going. I tried to stick to my normal routine, talking to friends and having a normal bedtime, to not make the event more stressful than usual. I wanted to have a really fun last few Oppie days. I had a low score from the qualifying series which meant that in the final series, I just had to maintain my lead by carrying on consistent sailing rather than having to gain lots, which probably would have added more pressure."

In the 120-boat junior main fleet, Ireland's Rocco Wright managed to overtake USA's Aston Smith for the open title during the gold fleet series, with Ben O'Shaughnessy (IRL) third. British junior fleet champion was Josh Lyttle (Datchet) ahead of Finian Morris (Papercourt/Datchet) and George Creasy (West Kirby). First junior British girl was Arwen Fflur (Pwllheli/WKSC) with Ella Lightbody and Annabelle Vines (both Royal Lymington) second and third.

British Junior Optimist Champion Josh Lyttle said: "I am really pleased! I have been training for the British nationals very hard all winter, and I am happy to see that the effort has payed off. I think consistency was crucial for the event. There were 11 races with only 2 discards so it was important to be consistent. It was very close between the top British sailors, so not giving up and gaining places wherever you could had a huge impact. I had some ups and downs during the event - including capsizing! - but I managed to keep going and finish the event well. The results completely changed in the last race, so it proves to never give up until the race has finished!"

More than 370 young sailors representing over a dozen countries competed at the championships, attracted by the world class junior racing at the biggest event in the British Optimist calendar, with large teams from Ireland and the USA plus others from across Europe and further afield, including Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, Australia and South Africa.

The event was pleased to welcome back its 2017 national championship sponsors, J Sail, Funky Starfish, Jelly Belly UK and One Sails, who joined for this event IOCA's regular class sponsors Volvo, Gill, IBI Racing Dinghies and Noble Marine, while new sponsors for the 2018 nationals included Marlow Ropes, P&B, HD Sails and Firmhelm.

The keenly contested 57-boat regatta racing fleet was won by Angus McEwen (Papercourt) with Joseph Jones (Burghfield) second, Jack Donovan (Datchet) third and Eliana Edwards (Parkstone) 1st girl in fourth overall. The 40-boat Regatta Coaching fleet for rookies was won by Laragh Epstein (IRL) with Nicola Richards (Castle Cove) first GBR in second ahead of Louis Hiscocks (WPNSA/Castle Cove) and Thomas Peace (Warsash).

IOCA (International Optimist Class Association) UK chair Sharon Davidson-Guild summed up: "What a week! Over 370 sailors from 14 different countries; the weather certainly read the script and provided for a fantastic week of racing and fun. I would like to congratulate each and every sailor for their efforts and achievements during the week. We had some long days on the water, particularly Tuesday to ensure we finished qualifying ahead of the lay day, but they came ashore smiling and raring to go at the Sailor Party that evening! A massive thank you to the hundreds of volunteers, including the staff at Plas Heli, who contributed to the week; you are truly amazing and the week wouldn't have been the success it was without each and every one of you... roll on next year!"

Andy Green of Green Sea Photography captured all the action, with photographs available to view at

To keep up to the date with the latest news from the UK International Optimist Class Association, follow on Facebook and Twitter @iocauk

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Optimist nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

1st Christian Ebbin (BER)
2nd Alfonso MORENO (ESP)
3rd Harry Twomey (IRL)
Senior Fleet Gold GBR
1st Emily Mueller (Royal Lymington)
2nd & 1st Boy, Will Pank (Norfolk Broads)
3rd & 2nd Boy, Henry Heathcote (Royal Lymington)
3rd Boy, Joshua Means (Horning/NBYC)
2nd Girl, Florence Brellisford (Corinthian Otters)
3rd Girl, Ella Lance (Hayling Island)

1st Rocco Wright (IRL)
2nd Aston Smith (USA)
3rd Ben O'Shaughnessy (IRL)
Junior Fleet Gold GBR
1st Josh Lyttle (Datchet)
2nd Finian Morris (Papercourt/Datchet)
3rd George Creasy (West Kirby)
1st Girl, Arwen Fflur (Pwllheli/WKSC)
2nd Girl, Ella Lightbody (Royal Lymington)
3rd Girl, Annabelle Vines (Royal Lymington)

1st Emily Riordan (IRL)
2nd Blake Wilson (AUS)
3rd Laura Hupman (BER)
Senior Fleet Silver GBR
1st Maya Brown (Burghfield)
2nd Mathias Potter (Warsash)
3rd Huw Farmer (Llangorse)
2nd Girl, Abi Cowley (Kielder Water)
3rd Boy, Freddie Fitzsimmons (RLymYC)
3rd Girl, Ella Bowman (Aldeburgh)

1st Sebastian Shilling (Derwent Reservoir)
2nd & 1st girl, Sabine Potter (Warsash)
3rd & 2nd boy, Oscar Burgess (Chipstead)
3rd boy, Cameron Bignold-Kyles (RLymYC)
2nd girl, Amelie Hiscocks (WPNSA/Castle Cove)
3rd girl, Laura Elms (Hayling Island)

1st Angus McEwen (Papercourt)
2nd Joseph Jones (Burghfield)
3rd Jack Donovan (Datchet)
4th & 1st girl, Eliana Edwards (Parkstone)
2nd girl, Edith Ingram (Dell Quay)
3rd girl, Hennie Burlton (Royal Southern)

1st Laragh Epstein (IRL)
2nd Nicola Richards (Castle Cove)
3rd Louis Hiscocks (WPNSA/Castle Cove)
4th & 3rd GBR, Thomas Peace (Warsash)
2nd girl Annabelle Hacker (Hunts/Aldeburgh)
3rd girl Ella Martin (CBYC)

For the full results visit

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