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Optimist Open at Warsash Sailing Club

by Jane Saunders 6 Jun 22:49 PDT 3-4 June 2023

This weekend (3-4 June) saw our annual Optimist Open meeting at Warsash Sailing Club. Luckily the club had laid on amazing weather - hot and sunny conditions with wind as well! Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the fun both on and off the water.

We had three fleets racing, our most experienced sailors in the Main Fleet, younger and less experienced sailors in Regatta Fleet and those just starting their racing journey in Coached Regatta. One of our famous Warsash SC sausage sizzle was held for all the competitors on Saturday evening after racing, with the sizzling energetically led by Nick Hilsden and family. Sitting on the club lawn, in the sun with a sausage in a bun in hand, it felt like we were on the Costa del Warsash rather than in Hampshire!

Our main fleet spent two days out in Southampton Water, under the eagle eye of our fantastic PRO Nigel Russell, who did a great job of keeping the races coming, with 4 races on the first day and 3 races on Sunday in some extremely shifty northerly breezes off the Warsash shoreline. There was a lot of snakes and ladders on the racecourse, with places changing through the weekend, with race wins from Jonny Rogers (Royal Lymington YC), Fraser Hakes (Parkstone YC) and (putting their local knowledge to good use) local sailors Thomas and Alex Saunders (Warsash SC).

There was some really tight racing, and the overall weekend win went to Jonny Rogers, with Thomas Saunders second, and Isla Hutchinson (Royal Lymington YC) in third place and first girl. Thomas Saunders was also first Warsash SC sailor. The main fleet sportsmanship award went to Kate Charlesworth (Hayling Island SC), with some really brave sailing, and endeavour went to Felix Garlick who sailed all the way back to the club against a strong ebb tide - great work for a sailor from Burghfield SC who usually sails without tide!

Regatta fleet sailed at Cat Head, just to the west of the entrance to the Hamble River, where as well as being treated to some truly massive container ships and cruise ships, on Saturday we also had a display of tug boats spraying water, clearly in honour of the fantastic sailing shown by our regatta fleet sailors. There were a lot of place changes at both ends of the fleet, which was great to see, and some really tight racing over the weekend by our less experienced sailors. Again the racecourse suffered from some really big shifts and puffs, which the sailors dealt with admirably, and the race team, led by RO Ben Owen (who had kindly stepped in at the last minute to help), also took in their stride.

The overall win went to Sean di Salle (Gurnard SC), with some fantastic upwind sailing, followed by Flynn Grant (Chichester YC) and then Finn Byrne (Hayling Island SC/ Pevensey). First girl and winner of the endeavour prize in regatta fleet was E.J.Ayton (Chichester YC), who despite breaking her mast on Saturday, came back fighting and got some fantastic results on Sunday - well done! Sportsmanship award went to the extremely cheerful Evan Hannaby (Thames SC), who was an extremely friendly and smiley presence on the regatta fleet course. First Warsash SC sailor was Max Ellis-Asquith in 7th place with some fantastic sailing.

Coached regatta fleet, who were mostly taking part in their first ever Optimist regatta, sailed just off the club in the shallow bay, enabling them to stop for lunch on shore every day. Ringside seats for those new oppy parents brave enough to watch..... A crack team of Warsash SC parents ensured that the coached regatta fleet ran seamlessly, so a big thanks to the race organising/ rescue team of Stu and Seb Davies and Roger and Ffion Cerrato, ably assisted by Kirsty Lynch, Jarrod Hulett and Bruce Kavanagh.

While it was all about good fun and an introduction to racing for this fleet, they also got some results in, with Sebastien Bramley (Chichester YC) taking the win, followed by local sailor William Foster and Fynn Jamieson (both Warsash SC). First girl was Skye Lynch (Warsash SC). The coached regatta endeavour award went to Heath Hulett (Warsash SC), who after the coached regatta fleet came in from sailing, helped with trolleys for the other fleets when they came back to the beach. Many thanks!

As well as a big well done to all of our competitors, We'd like to give a big thank you to our fabulous sponsors, North Sails and local company Xtremity Sports, who as well as providing on line chandlery, have also just opened a new shop in Park Gate, so even more convenient for those who need Optimist parts!

An event like this couldn't happen without the help of many people, both on and off the water. As well as those above, and the Warsash SC executive committee, we'd like to give a big thank you to Naomi Rowbotham, our fabulous club administrator who wore many hats over the week leading up to the regatta and on the day. Duncan Saunders was a fantastic beachmaster, Alex Wealthy and Sarah Ellis -Asquith registered, tallied, arranged results and prizes and kept the bar running on shore in a whirl of energy. A special mention to the club members without children also kindly helped on the water, Simon and Marion Potter, Sue Mahood, Charlie Baker, Russ Tapley and our fantastic committee boat helpers, Malcolm Jaques, Sarah Niven, Robin Russell, Matthew Wheaton, Marion Russell and Nigel Russell.

We look forward to welcoming you all to our club again for the 2024 edition!

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