Op-eNews: the bi-monthly newsletter from IOCA (UK)
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Welcome to Op-eNews

Issue 9: November 2014

From the Committee

Chairman's Update

As we head into the winter season, many of you have reflected on the End of Seasons at Rutland Water, by filling in our survey. We had 80 replies, representing over 110 sailors, and almost 94% of you rated the overall organisation as "excellent" or "very good" and 93% rated the race management similarly. Perhaps more importantly, we had over 200 comments on what you think works well and improvements that we can make. The Transition fleet was very popular with 45 entries and the combined Transition and Regatta fleet entries were up 80% and most of the feedback on the Transition fleet was very positive.  Of course the racing was very tricky, so well done to those that had good results and if you didn't, don't be too hard on yourself.

Our National, Intermediate and Development Squads have now been finalised and we also have even more members in RYA Zone Squads around the country - congratulations to all of those selected. Of course there is lots of other training taking place this winter, so for those who want to continue to do some training during the winter, you will see IOCA's regional training program on the IOCA calendar (www.optimistsailing.org.uk)  along with lots of open training around the country. We remain keen to promote your open training and regattas on the IOCA calendar, so if you have an event that is open to Optimist sailors, please email the details to admin@optimist.org.uk .

We are delighted to announce a new IOCA endorsed event - the IOCA Easter Egg, which will be held at Grafham on the Friday and Saturday over Easter (3rd and 4th April, 2015). The event will be run by Grafham, with quality racing but in a relaxed environment, for both Main and Regatta fleets. As the event clashes with Braassemermeer, where we have a large GBR team, the top ranked sailors will not be competing. See all the details on the IOCA calendar.

Our Worlds team have just finished competing in Argentina in what sounds like a tough, highly competitive regatta, with a combination of both light winds and some strong winds in big waves. Well done to the GBR sailors: Gold Fleet - Vita Heathcote (33), Benno Marstaller (48), Rhys Lewis (52), Silver Fleet - William Hall (42), Hatty Morsley (44).

Finally a reminder that your committee is keen to get feedback on how we can represent better, all sailors in the class, whether they sail in local flotillas, at our events, in squads or on teams. Feel free to email me (chairman@optimist.org.uk)

Mark Lyttle
IOCA Chairman
Volunteer Role 2015 European Championships: Accommodation Lead Role

The 2015 Euros sub-committee is looking for a volunteer to take on the role of the Accommodation lead as soon as possible.  If this is of interest to you, please contact David Baddley  chairman@optimiseuros2015.com

  • Work with volunteers lead to ascertain accommodation requirements for organising team (IODA, Committee & Volunteers) teams accommodation is already booked
  • Identify possible accommodation suppliers to agree pricing
  • Book accommodation (house rentals & B&B)
  • Be aware of teams early arrivals accommodation bookings so that they can be carried forward to event bookings
During the Event:
  • Be at registration to accept teams and allocate accommodation
  • Resolve any allocation issues
  • Liaise between accommodation suppliers and teams, volunteers and organisers

Optimist Annual 2015

iOCA has started work on creating The Optimist Annual for 2015. This annual publication serves as a great keepsake/memento of your time in Oppies.  We include the best articles, fun facts and pictures from this year.  So please keep sending us your articles, stories, poems, drawings or great photos & the best selection will be featured in the annual for you to keep.  Please send your photos and articles to admin@optimist.org.uk by 1st January 2015 for a chance to see your article/photo in print.

Dates for Your Diary

Buttons below take you straight to the event website (opens new window)
Optimist Winter Championships
Cardiff Bay Yacht Club
22nd & 23rd November

Closing date for on-line registration
14th November

Please note that an updated NOR has been published.  SIs will be published shortly.
Winter Championships - ENTER HERE
Winter Championships - Volunteer HERE
There are plenty of roles to be filled both on the water and on shore.  Most require no experience, just an hour or so of your time.  It's a great way to meet parents and sailors, and we can't run the event without you! Please sign up as soon as possible.
Winter Championships - Important Event Info

Winter Championships

  • Check your entry details
  • Sail Number changed? - Please send an email to Admin before Tuesday 18th Nov.
  • Read the new NOR
  • Take a look at the information on the Event webpage
  • Download and Print the SIs (coming soon)
  • Volunteer for a duty - many hands make light work
  • Pack your Optimist (IODA) Logbook - you'll be asked for your sail button number at registration
  • Ensure your last buoyancy test was on or after 24th November 2013
  • Pack your warm sailing kit - Winter is here!
There will be post-racing pasta available for all sailors on Saturday
Spring Championships...... 28/29 Mar 2015
IOCA Grafham Easter Egg 3/4 Apr 2015 ................... Details coming soon
GBR Team Selection Trials 01 - 04 May 2015
Inland Championships ..... 16/17 May 2015
National Championships ..... 25 - 31 Jul 2015
Congratulations to the following sailors who have been selected for the 2014/15 Winter Squads:
IOCA (UK) / RYA Optimist UK Junior Squad 2014/15

Matt Beck, Emilia Boyle, Harris Cartwright, Jamie Cook, James Foster, Arthur Fry, William Hall, Rory Harper, Vita Heathcote, William Heathcote, Oliver Hill, Sophie Holloway, Ciaron Jones, Archie Leckie, Rhys Lewis, Jack Lucas-Clements, Julia Mellers, Hannah Roberts-Straw, Hattie Rogers, Alexandra Schonrock, Haydn Sewell, Johnny Thompson, Kai Wolgram, Drew Wright

IOCA (UK) / RYA Optimist Intermediate Squad 2014/15

Elizabeth Beardsall, Abby Childerley, Callum Cook, Callum Davidson-Guild, Joshua Davies, Thomas Dawson, Lauren Discombe, Elodie Edwards, Oliver Evans, Fergus Fox, Drew Gibbons, Barty Gray, Matthew Hardie, Nicklas Host-Verbraak, Christopher James, Phoebe LeMarquand, Matthew Leary, Cosima Lewis, Ellen Main, India Page-Wood, Tobias Schonrock, Hannah Scott, Nick Walters, Adele Young
IOCA (UK) Development Squad 2014/15

Cian Ashby, Peter Baddley, Ryan Bailey, Georgia Baker, Lorelie Bates, James Brosnan-Wren, Arthur Connolly, Oliver Dowson-McGill, Chloe Felton, James Hall, Charles Handley, Maisie Harkess, Annabel Hitchmough, Zara Howarth, Sam Kneale, Alexandra Knight, Tom Pollard, Peter Raimbault, Phoebe Roberts, Amy Smith, Katie Webb, Daniel Wellbourne-Hesp, Zac West


Following the Fun Run, Table Top Sale & Raffle at the Nationals in Weymouth, we are delighted to confirm that the following organisations received donations from the class:

Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation - £1986
John Merricks Sailing Trust - £721
Eric Twiname Trust - £676

Additional proceeds were allocated to IOCA Development

Thank you to everyone who donated to and/or supported these events.

Volunteering De-mystified: The Committee Boat

by Mel Atherton

It is now nine years that I have been attending IOCA events and considering I knew nothing about sailing before having children; I can now at least participate in the evening meal discussion about one of my sons’ latest events.  

I love volunteering at the events it is great to feel a part of something that is so important in the lives and development of our children.  Not to mention all the wonderful friends that I have made along the way, the great chats and hours of laughter.

I started volunteering with tallies and registration, particularly when the boys where little so that I was ashore when or if one of them came in.  As they grew I realised more and more that I was surplus to their requirements and started putting my name down for Committee Boat; I have to admit to being somewhat apprehensive as I knew nothing about the start or finish procedure.  

I have worked with several great race officers but in particular, over the couple of years I have worked with Ian Bullock, who has taught me so much and I have enjoyed every minute.  There is always a great feel of professionalism on the boat mixed with great humour and of course, the feeling that you can ask all manner of questions and everything is explained clearly.

The day normally starts with a quick briefing ashore with the rest of the committee boat and race team, i.e. mark layers, finish boat and safety crew.  Plans for the day are discussed and the race course explained.  Everyone then takes to their vessels. Once on board the Committee boat which has been an interesting variety of boats from luxurious yachts to small chug, chug things where you are standing in an inch of oil.  Duties are delegated by the PRO (Principal Race Officer), including the following:  

•    Recorder – this is someone that records everything said by the PRO within the last few minutes of the start sequence, in order that there is a clear picture of what is happening on the startline; should there be any queries at a later stage.
•    Timekeeper – Monitors the time and calls accordingly ensuring everyone on the committee boat is kept up to date with timing during the start sequence.  
•    Flags – Responsible for ensuring the appropriate flag is hoisted according to the relevant timing in the start sequence.
•    Horn/gun – Responsible for making a lot of noise during the start sequence.  Worth checking it works before the fleet are launched!
•    Course board -

We attach the appropriate flags to their halyards ensuring that they all hoist fully - the last thing you need when the gun goes is a flag that only goes half way up!  The PRO organises the setup of the course.  The timekeeper and recorder co-ordinate the appropriate forms for their roles.  Once the Orange flag is hoisted and the long sound signal has been made everyone is very focused in their roles.  

It is an incredible way of seeing how well all the kids manage on the water, we have a lot of fun chatting with them and responding to the hundreds of questions asked.  I am always so impressed by the sailors’ stamina, attitude and ability – we should all be so proud of them.

News & Reviews

Bart's Bash
Bart's Bash was a global event organised by the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation aimed to get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest sailing race in the World.  Optimist sailors all across the UK and the world participated in this global event.
Emsworth  by Henry Chandler
As part of the Emsworth Combined Clubs of ESC and ESSC, I joined 200 other boats on the water for Bart's Challenge.  There were 7 Optimists with us in the Medium Fleet and the other 4 in the Short Course Fleet.  The wind was 18-23 knots on the course and because of the Northerly wind and Emsworth being at the end of Chichester Harbour, we all had to start down wind.

I got a front row start, but very quickly got buried under a lot of other boats who were very good at covering each other.  After 50 mins racing I crossed the line amongst Teras, Scows and Picos and was very pleased to see that once the times were corrected I had actually won by 9 seconds in a Fleet of 90 boats.  Sam Thompson was 9th and Megan Farrer was 17th.  it was a really good experience with lots of fun.  I managed to raise £35 and I am looking forward to next year.

Norfolk Broads  by Charlotte Knight

 It was great to take part in Bart's Bash, the largest sailing race in the world ever!  At our club (NBYC) the Optimists had the largest number of entries, followed by the Stars with their 'fine art' sails.  There was good wind on the day, which was helpful as I was racing against 28 keelboats and 9 dinghies who were all bigger and faster than me.  My favourite moment was calling "starboard" on a Star and making him tack!  The Optimists were really the stars of the day, as my sister, Alex (GBR 6290) came second at our club and James Percival-Cooke (GBR 5354) has raised over £2,000.
Zone Championships:
South East Zone

by Alain Waha

RYA SE Zone Championships were at Bewl Valley this year, with 31 Optimist entered and Toppers plus Fevas making up the rest of the fleets.  Saturday was a beautiful day for sunbathing and we had no sailing.

On Sunday, we finally got to race in very light winds.  Race 1 was won by Thomas White, who correctly spotted that the number of laps had been reduced from 3 laps for the Fevas to 2
laps for the Optimists.  Race 2 and 3 were won by Joshua Waha who sailed the correct course, and won the event, with Ansel Levy Dethmer 2nd and Johnny Thompson 3rd.

Top Feva was ex-Optimist sailor Freya Black who had only just decided to switch class.
End of Seasons Championships:
The Transition Fleet Winner

by Ollie Meadowcroft

Hi, I'm Ollie and I'm 10 years old.  I learnt to sail on the river at Upper Thames Sailing Club just west of Bourne end.  At first I learnt to sail in a National 12 with my dad.  I learnt all sorts from rules to trimming.  Soon I went on to Oppies, Toppers and Fevas.  After 6 years of sailing I competed at Spinnaker Open and came in the thirties of the main fleet.  At Rutland in zero wind it seemed like the Transition Fleet wasn't going to
go well on day 1.  On day 2 however, it was great weather keeping us all moving.  The Transition fleet is great beacuse it is a smooth transition which does include staying on the water all day but gives you time to learn about the penalty flags.  I am sure that the transition fleet will be popular.
Sailor Profile: William Hall 2014 Volvo Gill Optimist End of Seasons Champion
At the 2014 End of Seasons Championships in October, Will Hall from Cardiff Bay YC won the Championship title for the 2nd year running and with numerous National Championship titles and places in the GBR European Team 2013 and Worlds Team 2014 under his belt, he is proving to be one of Wales' rising stars in British sailing.

Will discovered sailing on a family holiday in Turkey at the age of 7 and he tells IOCA, "I loved it so much that as soon as we got back home, I looked for a sailing course and joined Cardiff Bay YC."

However, it was not long after, that his talent began to shine through and just a year later, still only 8 years old he had already secured his first Welsh National trophy as winner of the 'Welsh Schools Optimist OnBoard Regatta' in July 2009.  The same year he was invited to join the South Wales Regional Optimist Squad and within 12 months he progressed to the Welsh National Squad.

This winter Will has been invited into the GBR National squad for the 3rd year running, having joined this squad at the age of 11. As Will enters his final season in Optimists, IOCA reflects upon his time in the class:

Name:   William Hall
Age:   14
Siblings:   Emily, age 12, also sails an Oppie
Sail Number:   GBR 6201
Home Sailing Club:   Cardiff Bay YC
Boat Name:  -
Club Team / WYA Squad:   Welsh National Optimist Squad & GBR National Optimist Squad
Started sailing Oppies:  age 7 on a family holiday in Turkey.
Most memorable race:   When I was 11, I was invited to the selection trials for the first time.  At the very end of the 4 day event on the very last race I managed to come FIRST!  It was amazing!
Favourite thing about sailing Oppies:  It is a really fun boat to sail and as such a competitive, popular class of dinghy you get to meet so many new people.
Best day out sailing:   When I went to New Quay (Welsh zone Championships 2012).  The waves were really big and after the racing my friends and I went right out of the seclusion of the bay into the bigger seas and had so much fun surfing the huge waves.  We even got to see dolphins.
Worst day out sailing / most embarrassing moment:  I've got quite a few embarrassing moments, but the most memorable was probably at a training session when I was being videoed in about 8 knots when I went to do a gybe and there was a gust.  The boom swung around and hit me on the head.  It didn't hurt, but instead I fell out of the boat and the boat capsized in front of the coach and all of my friends.
Favourite place to sail:   Palamos in Spain. (International Palamos Optimist Trophy 2013).  During the event we had a variety of winds every day thus testing different skills each day, and the waves there are huge and so much fun for surfing..
Favourite on-the-water snack:   Red Berry Fruesli bar.  Like most sailors, I used to eat chocolate on the water but after taking advice from my squad coach I now try to eat something healthy - it's better for my body and my sailing.
Favourite off-the-water snack:   After a hard day out sailing I like to drink Chocolate milk shake - it tastes nice and the protein helps the body to recover.
Other Hobbies:   I enjoy lots of sports: football, rugby, tennis, table-tennis, badminton and swimming.  When I want to sit back and relax I like to play my X-Box..
Favourite Book:  'Running Wild' by Michael McPhurgo
Favourite Film:   Harry Potter
Favourite Actor:   Tom Cruise
Favourite subject at school:  PE
Worst subject at school:  Maths
My Hero:  Ben Ainslie.  When I first saw him on TV I found him really inspiring and found myself thinking "I want to be like him someday".
Pets:   I have a Working Cocker Spaniel called 'Holly'
Future Career:  I would love to have a career in computers and technology, but would also like to be a sailing coach in my free time.
Dream Holiday:  .I love skiiing and I would love to go to a ski resort in Europe and spent a whole month or two there skiing everyday.
Sailing Dream:  If I ever got the opportunity I would love to sail an Extreme 40 or one of the America's Cup Boats.
Oppie Tips & Tricks which you want to pass on:   Always listen to what your coaches say as they have fantastic advice and a lot of experience.....and NEVER give up!  Even if you have a race where you came last or near the back, remember that you have the potential to come FIRST in the next race!
Interesting fact about yourself:  I think it is important to work hard, and I try hard in everything I do but also to make sure you also have fun - Work hard, play hard!

Class Connections

The Eric Twiname Team Racing Championships
by Barty Gray

Our team was made up of Callum Davidson-Guild, Archie Leckie, Harvey Leigh, Ellie Driver, Sian Talbot and myself.  Our common club is Trearddur Bay Sailing Club and because we all sail Oppys our team name was 'Team Oppy - TBSC'.  We arrived at Oxford Sailing Club to see around 300 sailors including some familiar faces from our Oppy events.  We were one of the first boats racing so we had to rig the Feva with the red jib - all of the Fevas had different colour jibs and we would get to race in each one.

On the first day we did 10 races and won 6.  The winds were really gusty, gusting up to 25 knots which made it great fun.
We arrived at the club on the second day and it was just as windy.  We did two races straight away - the second race was really exciting with lots of changes in position, which we won with some perfectly timed tacks!  This put us into Gold A fleet - 6th position.  The wind picked up and all of the Fevas were brought in to change to storm sails.  Sailing was postponed for 1 hour and we decided to play rugby with a water bottle whilst we waited.  Racing was eventually cancelled and we went home - covered in mud - after a very successful weekend.  I'm really looking forward to the next team racing event - our team were all fantastic.

Clubs & Flotillas

High-Performance Big Fleet Racing Heads North

Leigh & Lowton SC in the North West of England has been offering one of the biggest and most challenging big-fleet open winter racing series for many years; The Crewsaver Tipsy Icicle Series. The handicap fleet attracts over 180 boats from all across the North of England and North Wales every Sunday from January to March each year.  Chris Leigh, Junior Coordinator at the club, hopes to develop the fleet even further by attracting high-performance Optimist sailors to join in the racing series and take advantage of the big-fleet racing already on offer. On 3 Sundays which tie-in with IOCA Optimist Saturday training, Leigh & Lowton SC has organised a North-Optimist Winter Championship with a professional OOD and committee boat accurate start lines.  Chris plans to video the Optimist starts and publish the videos on a North-Optimist YouTube channel to provide sailors with feedback to review and learn from their performance.

Chris has conceived a new initiative 'North Optimist' which aims to complement the winter racing series with high-quality training clinics targeted to high-performance Optimist sailors and delivered by experienced IOCA Optimist squad coaches. 
When asked about the new initiative, Chris explained "All too often, sailors in the North consider the Optimist a training boat and as soon as they can race they defect to Toppers. Through the development of a high-performance offering in the North that hopes to rival the quality training and racing available in South Wales and on the South coast of England, we expect to see a reduction in this defection rate.  The initiative will not only provide much needed training and
big fleet racing opportunities for advanced Optimist sailors all across North and Central England and Wales, but will hopefully help change the perception of the Optimist dinghy and inspire the next generation, that the Optimist is a high-performance racing dinghy that can offer exhilarating and highly competitive racing for sailors until the age of 15."

October half-term saw the successful introduction of the first training clinic offered by North Optimist, with 14 sailors from the North and West zone squads and GBR National and Intermediate squads, benefiting from coaching in advanced race training tactics and techniques from RYA squad coaches, Luke Shaw, Sarah Williams and Richard Thorougood.  The training clinic was well-organised with sailor-instructor ratios kept very low to maximise individual attention and feedback, and 3 consecutive training days to consolidate skills and develop deeper learning.  As a volunteer-led initiative parents were encouraged to join in and the result was a collaborative experience with fabulous hot lunches being served up for the sailors and their families each day creating a great social atmosphere each lunchtime topped off with a game of football amongst the sailors before the start of the afternoon training session.

North Optimist sailors are being encouraged to join in with IOCA Saturday winter training programme and the Sunday North-Optimist Winter Championship series organised at Leigh and Lowton SC, and in April a second high-performance coaching clinic will be led by the National Optimist coach, Alan Williams which will focus on developing the sailors' faster boat speed.

For further details regarding the training and racing dates on offer, please see the north optimist website at www.northoptimist.uk Chris can be contacted at chris@northoptimist.uk
Optimist Training
at Pennine SC

By Katie Mappleback

20 sailors took part in IOCA training at Pennine Sailing Club on the 7th, 20th and 21st September 2014. Some of the sailors had only been in an Optimist for a few hours and some had been sailing for over a year, so the ability levels
were very varied, but all the sailors got wet and had fun!. The group was split into beginners (with Colin, Pennine’s Optimist Coach) and intermediates (with IOCA Coach Katie). Pennine has really been developing their Optimist sailors over the last year and has invested heavily in supporting the young sailors by purchasing a number of second hand boats. This support from the Club to invest in the Optimist (instead of Toppers) has meant that sailors are able to sail in stronger conditions and learn to sail in great little boats – no longer are they seen as just learn to sail boats, but actual racing boats!
The training’s main focus was to get the sailors ready for the Zone Championships on the 27th/28th September at Derwent Reservoir. We practiced a lot of boat handling and attempted to hop across the boat in our tacks – special mention must go to Charlie Fensom who did this without any prompt from her coach, performing 
a quick roll tack and a little hop across the boat (check out Alan William's Advanced Boat Handling Video for examples of this).

On our second day of training we had a series of mini races. Everyone sailed really well in the tricky conditions of light shifty winds. First place for the Intermediates Squad went to Francis Keddy, and first Beginner was Joe Fairbrother.

The final day of training fell on the day of Bart’s Bash Event, which all the sailors entered. We had time on the water before the main racing to get in some practice at starts. A total of 77 boats had pre-entered the Bart’s Bash, so the Optimists were competing in a really large event – very exciting and the results are still being calculated! The boats launched with an increasing wind F3, gusting F4. The Race Officer set a long course (even by adult standards), but the sailors managed to race well. The top six were very close together, fighting all the way round the course. Well done to everyone who took part in the race. Matthew Robertson claimed the first Optimist prize – a bailer donated by Curradinghy Sailing. It was a great opportunity to take part in a Guinness World Record attempt, with sailors all over the world, and I hope it was a good opportunity to practice racing against a big fleet ready for the Zone Champs!  We even got back to work after lunch with a FUN on-the-water session as a reward for all of their hard work and a final video debrief, concentrating on tacking, and a prize-giving with the local Bart's Bash Organiser.
Many thanks to all the sailors who worked hard each day, and to all the parents who helped out as trolley dollies - now is the time to invest in some waders! Thank you also to the parents who helped on the RIBs (Nick and Adrian), sailed the optimist in (Siobhan, who learnt to sail in a Sport 16 this summer!), and Jim and Mr Oddy on the committee boat for our mini races! I am looking forward to coming back in the spring to start some more Optimist Training at Pennine – between now and then……Keep Sailing!
St.Mawes Sailing Club Winter Open Training
by Dina Croft

7 sailors attended the Optimist Open Training on the 18th and 19th October in St.Mawes.  St.Mawes doesn't have an Optimist flotilla but is a fantastic open sea venue for training with sheltered launching in the river, and has produced 2 recent Optimist National Champions!

John Burford led the coaching team and did a great job dealing with the mixed age and ability from recently selected Zone Squad sailors to a 7 year old mini-racer!  The weekend finished with 9 races held inthe more sheltered waters up the river.
Scottish Winter Academies
by Jennifer Wesley, age 12

Academies are so fun!  They are every month from October until March, and they focus on giving Optimist sailors excellent traning for events later in the year.  Kids of all ages come from different parts of Scotland to participate.

The first Academy weekend was VERY windy and rainy!  But the coaches made what I presumed would be a cold and unpleasantly wet weekend into an enjoyable, fun-filled experience.  In the morning of the second day we completed our Fitness Challenge, where we warmed up using Olympic techniques.  On the water, we did exercises to make our sailing skills perfect.  In the afternoon are the Championship Races, and how well we do determines which coached group we have at the next Academy.

The amazing coaches are Laurie, Moray, Nathan, Sophie and James.  We all split up into groups by our ability level and eah gave our coach 3 goals that we wanted to achieve that weekend.  Aterwards, the coaches email us individual feedback, so we know what to work on next time.

I rate my experience undoubtedly as 10 out of 10, however my cold and wet parents may disagree!

IOCA Team Reports

The Optimist World Championships
by Hatty Morsley

Selections finally – and I really wanted to go to Argentina!! So 82 of GBR’s top Oppy sailors are in Weymouth for the four day event. It was an interesting four days – one ‘oops’ result (Alan’s words)  in the 40s and loving the 2’s – (as quoted by Kate Williams) and  I got my place in the worlds team – 4th overall at selections – the best was the top four of us coming in the top four of the last race – and Rhys wasn’t far behind us!  So five of us off to Argentina – Myself, Will and Rhys (all from Wales) along with Vita and Benno                    

So down to the training – it’s at least six months before we go to Argentina so plenty to do! 

WORKUM - Dutch Youth Regatta.
Travelled with the Roberts family and stayed with them in their camper. Wokum was shallow like Argentina so we went for the choppy water. There was lots of rain & mud to begin with then very hot. Racing was tough, the qualifying series was odd because we sailed on 2 separate courses. Both Benno & I qualified for gold, in the end I was best Brit, 3rd girl & 20th overall, but missed prize giving as we had to travel home.

FLANDERS – Nieupoort Youth Week.
We were in team accommodation for this one with Alan & Jen, weather was mixed including a massive hailstorm, went to hide in Jonny’s rib ( another fleet coach) because I could not find Alan. Really pleased with best Brit, 1st girl and 4th overall with the rest of the team in or about the top ten.

NATIONALS -  Weymouth, my last ever!
Big overseas contingent this time & they did well with Lennert from Belgium winning, Vita was 1st Brit, I had a bit of a mare finishing in the 20s, but it was a fun week.

POLAND – Polish Nationals.
Team accommodation with Alan & Jen again, dad drove the boats & picked the team up from Berlin airport and then on to Poland with some very, very rough roads. A very light airs weekend and I picked up more black flags (because dad was there!), we went to see the Baltic Sea and Will ate a lot!

Argentina was amazing! We arrived at the airport after a very long 14 hour flight and then travelled another 2 ½ hours to our hotel where another 30 teams were staying! Me, Vita, Jen and Alan shared an apartment and the boys were across the hall but spent most time in ours either eating, taking all the Wi-Fi or playing cards. After we had unpacked we found our way to the lovely posh yacht club to find our boats, Vita and Benno scammed us all by getting Winner team boats there and me, Rhys and Will all had Rio Technicas wrapped up in cling film. The first week we spent training and getting to know the venue and the other teams. We mainly did speed work and working out wind patterns but occasionally did some racing with other teams or did some “team racing”. On the first weekend there was a pre-worlds regatta held for worlds competitors and anyone who wanted to race. The event wasn’t taken seriously by anyone and everyone started one a half minutes early so we decided to skip half of the run and do some more tuning runs upwind before we got told off by the race committee so we headed in. Next day was the practice race which nobody took seriously either! I rounded the windward mark second but got killed on the run by a Chilean boy so I got knocked down to third but that’s still not bad! 
That evening was also the opening ceremony - the pressure was on me to raise the Union flag before any of the other countries could raise theirs- we won that contest. First day was nerve racking, I was in yellow flight so I was first start. I had a beast start but went the wrong way up the beat and rounded the windward mark around 25 so I decided to take a chance and go for some separation on the left where I gained back to fourth! Next race I won the pin end and had an even beastier start and tacked across the fleet but I accelerated a bit too early so gained a UFD instead of an 8th  ïŒ.  

Day two was completely different which didn’t suit me giving me two mid-fleets. The next day was the final qualifying day for gold, silver and bronze, unfortunately I had two 25s  and missed out on gold by 15 points. We then had a few days break of fleet racing and had the worlds team racing. After winning 2 and losing 1 it was all down to one race to get through to the final 16 teams. It was ridiculously close between us and Finland leaving it to Benno just beating the Fin boat to get us through to the second day. Second day of team racing we got knocked out by Spain and the Nederland’s who then went on to finish 3rd and 4th overall. Next day was the lay day and so we went with all the parents and grandparents to a hacienda where there was horse riding, a gaucho display and lots of meat (hopefully not horse). Alan had a mahusive horse and mine refused to move, only wanted to eat.  Other teams were there as well- Switzerland, Slovenia, France and I don’t know the rest!  First day of gold, silver bronze was windyyyyy!!! 2 races for gold and silver but only 1 for bronze as a storm was brewing which carried on through the night with constant thunder and lightning.  The next day we were held ashore because of the storm and all the flooding. The top quote of the day was Vita “oh my god we’re here for Halloween! We can go on an Easter egg hunt!” not one of her brightest moments! The last day was a sad day and the aftermath of the storm was all over the race course, I was constantly picking up my dagger board to get rid of the flotsam and jetsam. We only had one race that day due to lack of wind and a LOT of tide. Will caught a flip flop and a giant beasty spider in one catch and screamed at us to get it out while he stood on top of his dagger board case- we think he has arachnophobia. Closing ceremony and prize giving was held in the big posh club and we were all given medals and our photographs taken.  The bus back to the hotel came for us straight away after prize giving so we couldn’t hang around for much longer and spent the evening packing and swapping team kit with other countries, me & Will got South African hoodies, Vita swapped lots of T shirts and Benno got a Finnish life jacket.

On our last day Jen and Alan went on a day trip to Buenos Aires so we spent the day with the parents on hired bikes and shopping and then for a last meal out with everyone.  

A brill time had by all – both on and off the water – I could have /should have done better but oh well too late now – off to 420’s next weekend!

Big thank you to everyone who has helped me in Oppies – most especially the WYA  (now RYA Cymru Wales!) all my coaches, fellow competitors and of course the one and only Mr Alan Williams as I wouldn’t be where I am now without his support and superb coaching – and uh, oh yeah and Mum, Dad & Toby.
RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup
by Haydn Sewell

WOW! Bermuda is amazing!!!! The best trip I've ever been on!!!  Before I start I would just like to make some thank you's.  Thank you to David and Jenny Campbell-James for accompanying me on the flight there and back.  Thank you to Dede Cooper for organising the event and making everything AWESOME!!   A massive thank you to Mary, Rian, Fiachra and Caoilinn Geraghty for hosting me, who made the trip the best ever and last but not least IOCA UK for selecting me.

I was originally supposed to fly on Saturday but this was cancelled due to hurricane Gonzales but after much stress for Mum I was booked on the Monday flight. Thankfully on Monday all was back to normal with the flight which went on time. The views were amazing leaving London and again as we arrived in Bermuda  8 hours later. After a quick transfer from the airport, I met up with my host family (and Christian from Denmark who was staying with them as well) and went back to their house, which was shortly followed by bed.

Tuesday- Training day
After a lovely sleep, I was up by 7am ready to leave by 8am. We dropped off Rian, Fiachra  and Caoilinn at school before me and Christian went down the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. It did feel a bit tough leaving the others at school while we went sailing!!  I then did all my sorting out of the boat before all the internationally invited sailors (14 of us in total) headed out for some training. We did some boat speed work along with venue familiarisation oh and getting used to sailing in warm weather wearing only shorts and a rash vest!! Later on we were then joined by the local Bermudian sailors and did some practice starting with them. After sailing we then went to the beach. It was was lovely with massive waves that we had a great time playing in.

Wednesday- Training and Dinner day
Wednesday brought some windier training in the morning, however, the day was stopped short due to a possible thunderstorm that might hit us. So instead the Yacht Club took all the international sailors sightseeing before heading back to the club for a press conference and meal for everyone involved with the Junior Gold Cup and Argo Gold Cup. It was a great evening as we got to meet some of the pro sailors before doing the Gold Cup.

Thursday- Racing Day 1
It was a slow start as we had a bit of a windy storm which resulted in a postponement of 3 hours. Luckily the wind dropped by lunchtime so we got two good races in light to medium winds. I got a 10th and a 6th which was OK,  however, I felt I could have done better and my mistakes were clear. After racing I had a chat with Iain Percy, which was really nice. It felt awesome to be chatting about the days sailing and results with one of the best sailors in the world. That night was an early to sleep one because the next day was going to be windy.

Friday- Racing Day 2
Friday was one hectic day!!  5 races in 17-20 knts! I got a 6th, 17th,9th,13th and 15th. This set of results was again OK but I dropped a few places overall. The 17th and the 15th were especially disappointing because I made some simple mistakes that dropped me the places and with the fleet being so good any mistake you made quickly cost places. But as it was such a windy day and with most of the other international sailors being a lot bigger and older than me overall I did a lot better in the breeze than I have before. Even so I went into the next day feeling determined!  After racing we (my Bermudian family) went to a great restaurant in Hamilton for pizza and had a top night out.

Saturday- Racing Day 3
Saturday was a good day.  Light winds and hot!!  I got a good 5th and a 6th before racing was cancelled for the day because the wind went completely, which was a real shame as I would have loved to carry on racing. But not to worry our family had a rib so we went out to see the reef and the shipwreck. The views were amazing, crystal clear water with colourful fish. We then came back in (after seeing turtles). We also saw the world's smallest drawbridge! There was another big party in the Club with Taco's for dinner. We really were very well looked after. Everyone stayed up that night because the briefing was at 11am the next day. So you can guess we had a fun night!!

Sunday- Final Day
A very relaxed morning lead to a very relaxed day. We headed down to the Yacht Club at about 10am. The tradition is 1 race in the harbour in front of a big crowd followed by watching the final of the Argo Group Gold Cup. The race was very tricky because the shifty winds and the mixed water form spectator boats. I had an amazing start, only to pick the wrong side of the course and went round the first windward mark 10th from last!   Not ideal in front of a crowd!  However I did a good recovery job to get a 7th which meant I finished 6th place overall. Given the level of competition from the international and local sailors I was really pleased with my final result. I just hope I get the chance to go back to Bermuda one day and do even better.

After our racing was finished, the family went out on the rib to watch the Gold Cup final. This was followed by the prize giving. My flight was that night so we had to head off early to the airport.

It was an awesome week and event which is quite hard to put in words but if you are an optimist sailor and ever get the chance to go make sure you do.

 Once again I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone. THANK YOU BERMUDA!!!!! 

Globe Trotting

Congratulations to Arthur Fry for winning the Semana Del Atlantico Ciudad de Vigo Regatta in Spain during the October half-term holidays.
My win in Vigo
by Arthur Fry
The Semana Atlantico was held at the Real Club Nautico de Vigo, in Spain, from 31st October to 2nd November. Ollie Hill, Julia Mellers and I travelled out for it and we were also joined by Harley Stone for the training days. The travel arrangements were quite complicated, as my Dad took 2 boats by ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao Ollie & I flew there, Harley and his Dad joined us on the Sunday and then Julia and her Dad arrived in time for the event on the Wednesday.  My mum arrived Thursday.

On the day we arrived we spent the afternoon sorting out our boats. The club were really welcoming and couldn't do enough to help us. They even gave us a rib for free and waived our entry fees, as they were so happy we had chosen to attend. Our training days were spent combining fitness sessions with time on the water, getting used to the venue and sailing conditions. The wind was very shifty and often didn't do as the forecast predicted, which gave us some good challenges to work with. It was great to be sailing in a rash vest, shorts & bare feet, as the weather was fantastic.

For the first few days we had the sailing area to ourselves, but as the event got nearer other Oppies started to arrive. With Vigo being near Portugal, there were a lot of Portuguese sailors. Once we had registered we were told our flight colours. There were 6 flights and the three of us were all in different flights. The plan was to do 9 races over 3 days, with one discard after 6 races.

On day 1 we had great sailing conditions and the Race Committee managed to run 4 completed races, as the forecast was for very light winds the next day. Overall we had good races between the 3 of us, making the best of considerable pin end bias in some races to get away at the start.  However, in the last race Ollie was pushed back by another sailor at the start, so the day ended in the protest room. Ollie did a great job of explaining what had happened and Ollie won his protest and was awarded average points.

Day 2 dawned to the light winds that had been forecast, but after being held ashore for a few hours we launched at 12:30. We had identified that the team from Gran Canaria were going to be our main competition, so we focused on how to deal with them in the next races. The wind was really shifty and it took the Race Committee a long time to set the course, but finally we were off. Julia and I were in the first start, but unfortunately Julia was black flagged and had to sit out the race. The wind was really light - about 4 knots for most of the race - so I had to work really hard to do well and was very pleased to get a 2nd. Ollie was in the 2nd start and had to wait while they reset the course, but at least the wind improved a bit, although it was still fairly light and shifty. By this time it was very late - it was getting dark by the time the 3rd start boats were towed in!
On Day 3 we woke to overcast skies and we headed out hoping for wind and some good racing. However, just after we launched the clouds descended and we had a massive electrical storm, so the Race Committee had to send us in. We were totally soaked through so hurried into the club and had hot chocolate. The rain was torrential but eventually stopped - and then there was not a breathe of wind! Ollie & Julia really wanted a 6th race to get a discard, so we all waited anxiously to see whether we would be sent out again. However, it got to 2:00 pm and the Race Committee had to announce the end of the regatta.

I was really delighted to win the event and Ollie also had a great result, as 8th senior, 11th overall.  Julia was top 5 and first girl until her black flag, so it's a real shame we didn't get to sail the discard. The event was a really good experience and I learned a lot. I would recommend it as an international experience for GB sailors. It is easy to get to, everyone is really friendly and it's a really well run event - and the tapas were fantastic!
45th Grand Prix De L'Armistice
Cercle de la Voile de Bordeaux

Congratulations to Hector Bennett, who has recently won a French regional junior Optimist regatta in Bordeaux during the October half-term holidays.  It was a closely fought competition with Hector winning the last race and the benjamin Optimist fleet by one point. Lucy Bennett reports "It was a great regatta in a beautiful part of France.  We were there with the GBR 420 Youth Squad." .


If you'd like to do a kit test for Gill please send a short email with your name, age, the item you'd like to test and why you think you'd make a good kit tester to: admin@optimist.org.uk

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