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Toyota Optimist NZ Nationals: Four straight wins secures title - Day 6

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz 24 Apr 08:05 PDT 23 April 2019
George Lee Rush (Wakatere BC) - 2019 National Champion- Day 6 - 2019 Toyota New Zealand Optimist National Championships, Murrays Bay, April 2019 © Richard Gladwell

Wakatere Boating Club's George Lee Rush dominated the final day of the 2019 Toyota NZ Optimist Nationals sailed from Murrays Bay SC on Auckland's North Shore.

After the first day of the regatta, Australian sailor, Daniel Links (Royal Port Alfred YC) dominated the leaderboard and went into the final day with a handy seven point lead. The Sydney 15 year old had won five of the seven races sailed in the Qualifier phase, and following the cut won the first race in the Gold fleet.

However on the penultimate day the breeze was a no-show, and despite three hours of postponement followed by another couple of hours on the water, no racing was possible. The decision was made to put an extra two races into the Final day - for a total of four 35 minute races.

The Championship result was a turnaround from the previous year where sailors from Royal Prince Alfred dominated the regatta placing first and second in the Open titles, and leaving Rush in third place with the New Zealand Championship.

Unlike the previous day, the wind was in from the start - around 185 degrees at 14-16kts, with some big variances in pressure, plenty of shifts, and a strong ebb tide. It was a good test of sailing strategy - asking plenty of questions of the 205 boat fleet from eight nations.

Rush (14yrs), who hails from Wakatere Boating Club - on the same coast as Murrays Bay, but a few nautical miles south. He put his stamp on the regatta notching up four wins from four races - a standard that none of the Gold fleet could match.

Links, having dominated the regatta right to the final day, looked set to improve on his second overall in 2018, and appeared to have the trophy all but in his kit bag, when the fleet came ashore on Tuesday afternoon.

Although the Sydneysider scored second and third placings in the first and third races sailed today, he got solidly into double figures in the two other races. His worst place going into the final day was a sixth place, and the form reversal was surprising.

Rush on the other hand sailed confidently in the difficult and testing conditions, finished the final race in commanding style which gave him a 17pt margin over Links, with the third placegetter Lucas Day, from the host club was 26pts behind Rush.

Top female sailor was Amelia Angus (14yrs) from Kohimaramara YC who finished seventh overall in the Open fleet. She successfully defended her title won at Queen Charlotte YC in 2018.

Another Wakatere BC sailor, Tom Rebbeck (13yrs) won the Silver fleet, with fellow club member Josh Hilder (13yrs) winning the Bronze fleet.

Wakatere sailors dominated the Green fleet with Nelson Meacham (10yrs) taking the title, and Tessa Clinton (11yrs) first female sailor. She placed second in the overall standings for the Green fleet.

Official website: www.murraysbay.org/events/optimist-nationals

Open fleet results click here

Green fleet results click here

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