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Optimist Australian National Championship 2019: Coaching pays dividends for top Optimist sailors

by Peter Campbell 11 Jan 22:48 PST
International Optimists National Championship 2019 © Pete Harmsen

Coaching programs to develop the racing skills of each club's up-and-coming young sailors have played a key in the final results of the 2019 International Optimist Australian championships.

Daniel Links from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club on Pittwater, NSW, won the title this week after a regatta long duel with Eddie Reid from the host club in Hobart, Sandy Bay Sailing Club.

The two 13-year-olds outsailed the 140 boat open qualifying fleet and progressed to the gold fleet with Links just ahead of Reid after seven races

Five more gold fleet races and the order was the same, with the Pittwater sailor placing 5-1-2-2-3 against the Tasmanian's 3-5-5-6-13.

Discarding one gold fleet race and adding the net qualifying score, this gave Links victory with a net 20 points, Reid 36 and in third place Ethan Lozovski from Woollahra Sailing Club on Sydney Harbour with a net 50 points.

Fourth overall, on 55 points, was Jonathan Tuite (NSW) while in fifth place was Keizo Tomishima (NSW on 59 points.

Final results, and the presentation of trophies at Hobart's Wrest Point were delayed several hours because of protracted protests and redress hearings. The total overall standings were not published on the event website until yesterday.

Daniel Links is a product of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club's extensive youth development program supported by one of NSW's biggest yacht clubs. Club coach is Tom Spithill, young brother of America's Cup winning skipper James Spithill.

By comparison, Sandy Bay Sailing Club is a small off-the-beach club with is clubhouse nestled in the sand dunes behind Nutgrove Beach on the River Derwent.

Yet Sandy Bay's excellent coaching program for young sailors has really excelled this summer with club sailors achieving outstanding results in national championships.

Hugo Alison and James Gough won the International Cadet nationals in early January, with Archie Ibbott and Sam Hooper runners-up, then Alice Buchanan and Dervla Duggon finished top women's crew in the 29er nationals, as did Jasmin Galbraith and Chloe Fisher in the 49erFX skiffs.

Also in the 29ers, William Wallis and Fynn Sprott, finished a close second with four crews from SBSC in the top ten.

The coaching program at this small club has again paid dividends, with 13-year-old Eddie Reid today confirmed as runner-up in the International Optimist Australian championships.

Overall winner was another young teenager, Daniel Links from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club on Pittwater, NSW, in a 140-boat fleet dominated by mainland sailors.

Links and Reid fought out the qualifying races, but Links proved just that better in the gold fleet racing to decide the championship.

Heavily outnumbered by mainland sailors, the Tasmanian Optimist sailors nevertheless did exceptionally well with three, Reid, Ed Broadby and Matilda O'Donoghue, reaching the gold fleet.

Eddie's father, Phil Reid, today paid tribute to the Sandy Bay Sailing Club's coaching program, notably the mentoring his son and others had received by Rohan Langford, Hugo Hamilton and the club's professional coach, Lizzie Rowntree.

"The Tasmanian International Optimist Racing Association and Lizzie organised prominent coach Alec Brodie to come to Hobart for an intensive training camp and other coaching sessions have been regularly held," Phil Reid said.

"The coaching through Sandy Bay Sailing Club has been a key factor in Eddie's success in reaching the top of a most competitive national and international fleet," he added.

Eddie has also qualified to represent Australia at the Optimist Worlds at Antigua in July.

And is Eddie Reid having a well-earned rest from sailing after a dozen intensive races in the single-handed Optimist in often challenging sailing conditions.

Far from it. Two days after the Optimist nationals he had team up with another SBSC member Archie Ibbott (runner-up skipper in the Cadet nationals) in sailing a high-performance 29er skiff in the Australian Sailing Youth Championships.

After the first day they finished 24th overall in the fleet of 32 29ers.

Back to the Optimist results, first place in the Silver fleet went to Daniel Laverty (Vic) from Jack Saul (Qld) and Pol Rafart (WA) whose twin sister Ona qualified for the Gold Fleet, finishing 66th.

Winner of the Optimist Intermediate championship was Jack Scharf (Qld).

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