News from IOCA (UK) - Op-eNews, April 2016
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Welcome to Op-eNews

Issue 18: April 2016


From The Committee

Chairman's Update

As spring arrives, many of you will be dusting down your Optimists, ready for the season ahead at your local flotilla, while others will be looking forward to warmer weather after winter training. Sailing locally should be at the core of every Optimist sailor’s programme but as you get more racing experience, going to open meetings in your area can be a wonderful experience. Many of these are on the calendar on our website ( And we hope to see many of you at the British Nationals, competing in probably the largest regatta of any class in the UK this summer. There will be four fleets, and sailors of all levels can join in!
At the end of the summer, it will be time to consider whether you want to carry on training through the winter. You can check in your club and with IOCA regional reps to find out what winter training is being planned. You can also apply for an RYA Zone Squad place in your region. You normally have to compete in specified open meetings in your area in September as well as the RYA Zone Championship, also in your area. Check out all the details on the RYA website. To get more racing experience, you can join the Regatta or Transition fleets at the Inland Championships in May.
For more experienced racers, the Optimist class in the UK runs three squads in conjunction with the RYA for over 70 sailors. To be considered for these squads, you will normally need to race in the Main fleet and attend at least two of three of: the Inland Championships in May (Grafham), Late Summer Championships in September (Hayling Island) and the End of Seasons Championships in October (Rutland). The class agrees a selection policy for these Winter Squads with our independent selectors and publishes it and the selectors then offer squad places based on it.
Finally some of you may be wondering about the Selection Trials to be held in early May at Weymouth. These are used to select four GBR teams for the summer. The first 90 sailors in the Winter Squad Selection series described above are invited by the selectors. Like the squads, the class agrees a selection policy for these GBR teams with our independent selectors and publishes this. The selectors then offer team places based on this policy, so that at the end of the Selections we have 37 sailors representing us at four internationals events, including the Worlds and Europeans.
Good sailing!
Mark Lyttle

Dates For Your Diary

IOCA (UK) Optimist Inland Championships
Grafham Sailing Club
14 - 15 May 2016
Entry Open
IOCA (UK) Optimist British National & Open Championships
Largs Sailing Club
30 July - 05 August 2016
Entry Open
Lots of other events all around the country! Click here for more details


News from the IOCA office

John Perham, IOCA’s Administrator and Event Manager gives us an update on what he’s been working on.
How long have you work for IOCA (UK)?
Almost a year.  I started on 15 May last year at the Spring Championships.
Are you enjoying your job?
Yes. Having been in the job a year I now understand all the tasks that make up the job, the names of the sailors, parents, IOCA people and the venues for the major events and squad training.  There are two parts to my job; the administration that I do from the IOCA office and the event managment  I do by running the Race Office at major events.
Is it correct that you work at home on your own?
The IOCA (UK) office in my house.  Although there is no one else there, I do not feel that I am working on my own. Every day I speak on the phone and am in email contact with IOCA people and parents who “work” for the association and then people who are external to IOCA, sailing club managers where we hold squad training or a major event.
What do the people and parents do that “work” for IOCA?
Giving you a short answer to this question is not easy as there are a lot of people and parents who work for IOCA.   There are parents who are; committee members, Event Coordinators, there is a Clothing Buyer, a Safety Officer, an Equipment Officer, an OpEnews Editor and the Selectors who are not parents.  In addition to this team there is the team people and parents who volunteer to work at major events and squad training.
What is it that you like about being the IOCA (UK) Administrator and Events Manager?
I like the challenge of working with the all the people and parents to plan and deliver sailing events and training so that the sailors get on the water and achieve at the highest level.  
What are you working on at present?
At this time of year the focus of my work changes.  Since October last year, I have worked a lot on the National, Intermediate and Development and Invitational squad training and 2016 membership. I am now spending most of my time working with the Event Coordinators on the major sailing events of which the Selections is the next event at the end of April.  I am working up to a year and more ahead booking venues for the 2016 – 17 squad training programme and provisional dates for major events as far ahead as 2018. 
What would help you with your job?
Getting sail numbers correct on major event entry forms. If sail numbers are incorrect at Registration, these changes have to be passed on to the Race Officer before going afloat so that the finish can be accurately recorded.  And, the Results Team have to update sail number changes so that the results are accurate and correct.

Parents (and kids) in action

Volunteering update and a report from the youngest ever flag officer!

Flags Officer on the Committee Boat

By Sebastian Schonrock (aged 7)
My sister sailed at a Laser event at Weymouth.  It's boring sitting around in the cafe, so I helped on the Committee Boat. My Mum and I were in charge of the flags. She did the Class flags, and I did the I Flag and the Black Flag.  I Flag is like Blue Peter, but you have to sail round the end of the line if you go over.
There were three fleets and lots of starts, so we were really busy. Helen had two clocks, and she counted down the seconds. At five minutes my Mum pulled up the Class flag. Then at four minutes, it was my turn.  Five, four, three, two, one.... then I pulled as fast as I could.  The flag went shooting up to the top.  I held onto the ropes tight so that the flag didn't blow away. At one minute, I pulled on the other rope, and down it came again. I stuffed it back in its bag and tied off the rope until the next start.
When the Radials started, they were really naughty, and had two general recalls. So instead of the I Flag, we got out the Black Flag!!  We gave the Standards and the 4.7s the Black flag too, just to make sure they weren't naughty.
In between races, there was time for a hot chocolate.  They gave us a packed lunch and mine had a chocolate bar in.  Some of the grown-ups didn't want their chocolate, so I ate theirs too :-) I had so much fun, and want to go on the Committee Boat again.  Maybe I can do the clocks bit next time.

Volunteering: Start Shadowing

As you know, IOCA is run by volunteers with John Perham’s administrative support. The good news is that no previous experience is necessary to volunteer for any role. The bad news is that there is only as much going on as parents can organise.
Oppies are often the first boat children sail in, and sailors have to learn everything from scratch – and the same applies to the parents who run all the events and activities of the class. IOCA brings together a large number of talented and experienced parents – yet many started out knowing nothing about the tasks they now coordinate. In the same way that we hope Oppies are the first boat of a sailing life that will extend to other classes, parents can also learn skills by volunteering that will come in useful for any future sailing. 
There are two main types of volunteer jobs needed to run IOCA: one is related to specific events, such as race officer, and another type is more task-oriented, such as being Treasurer on the committee. Many key tasks are also carried out by parents who are not on the committee, such as coordinating safety across all events, for example.
All jobs are easier when they can shared among a number of parents, and one way to do this is to volunteer to shadow a person who is currently responsible for a task or an event role.
Below is a request for at least two trophy co-ordinators, with the offer of shadowing Julie Sturley at the Nationals in Largs. All roles could use more support, so have a look at what you’d like to get involved with, or learn about, and IOCA can train you up to do it.

Trophy Co-ordinators

Julie Sturley is currently in charge of trophies and would like to hand over at the Nationals. She’s looking for a volunteer or two to shadow her at Largs so that they can take over. It would be ideal to have two Trophy Co-ordinators, one based in the north and another in the south.
Duties include co-ordinating the return of trophies so that they can be handed out at the appropriate event; ordering the trophy ‘Keepers’; cleaning and mending trophies (if not done by previous winner); setting up the trophy table at events and packing away and storing trophies from previous events. The Nationals is the most complex as there are lots of trophies to organise.
All the trophy work, including updating IOCA trophy website does not take much time once you get the hang of it. Julie says ‘the best part is getting to know more parents and sailors by coordinating the trophies.’

Clubs & Flotillas

New Training Boats for Starcross YC

Starcross Yacht Club (near Exeter, Devon) has taken delivery of 6 training optimists replacing the old boats which had seen over 25 years of action! The club is grateful to The John Merricks Sailing Trust and The Eric Twiname Trust for their support and contributions. For info on the Optimist fllet at Starcross, click here.

New flotilla at Datchet

DWSC is starting a new Optimist Flotilla in April 2016 that will make the most of the excellent facilities and sailing water available at Queen Mother Reservoir. Flotilla activities mostly take place on Sunday mornings. The plan is to have activities for beginners (and those with a couple of week’s experience) and more experienced racers. The emphasis will be on regular sailing in a relatively informal environment. The Optimist Flotilla is open the DWSC Cadet members, who have their own Optimist. Please contact to get on our mailing list.

Event and Training Reports

Springs 2016 – Team East on tour and my first main fleet event

Rory Gifford (Aged 9) and his ghostwriter


After a long slow drive from London we got to the Premier Inn where most of our friends from the east were also staying. It was too late to see anybody so we went straight to bed. When we woke up we went to breakfast and saw lots of my Oppie friends also helping themselves to lots of food. It was delicious and you could eat as much as you wanted – I put too much on my plate. We talked about whether it was really windy like the forecast or not. I decided not to use the new sail I was given for Christmas.

At Cardiff Bay SC we met the rest of ‘Team East’. Most of them are in Zone Squad with me but there were three others, Ella, Ben and Charlie who joined as well as Will from National Squad and my friend Ollie. I was nervous as it was my first main fleet event but luckily our zone squad coach was there to help us with things like the sailing instructions, flights and other stuff like remembering to eat and drink. At the briefing I saw how big the fleet was.
The racing on Saturday started badly as the start and first beat were very busy, I was a bit sad. The second race was not very good either. Our coach was on the water in a RIB (with a horrible Norwich City flag) and she tried to cheer me up by feeding me Haribos. The third race was much better and the fourth was really good. We went ashore, packed up the boats as fast as possible (well my Mum did most of mine) and went to the water slides…
On Saturday night we all ate in the pub beside the hotel. We looked at the results and I was not far behind my brother and he was not very far from qualifying for the gold fleet. I had a burger but the pub was really busy and I was really hungry when it arrived. My brother had a steak. We all went to bed a bit late.

Sunday should have been better as it was lighter winds and I am still small but it wasn’t. I kept getting bad starts and could not overtake many people. I ended up 51st in the Silver Fleet in my first main fleet event. My friend Will was 2nd in the Gold Fleet which was cool. I slept the whole way home.

Click here for results

Development Squad winter training report

Ansel Levy Dethmers, GBR 6310. Southeast.

I took part in the 2015/16 Development squad over the winter. The squad was a great experience for me because it not only improved my sailing massively but it also helped me understand the environment of sailing and racing better. It has allowed me to meet new people and I also got to visit some beautiful places around England. I especially liked the residentials, because they helped all of us in the squad to become a better team and I really enjoyed making new friends and sailing with friends I already knew. And the joint squad weekend was good for understanding what it takes to be really good at racing!
The coaches were excellent, and I could tell they tried to make every session as fun as possible. They were good at giving us tips and tricks that will not only help us in Optimist but we can take to other sailing.
One of the things I learned in the squad was how the English sailing system works. I started my sailing career in Argentina and I sailed there for 3 years before moving to the UK. Training and racing in both countries feels very different. In Argentina most of the clubs were on the same stretch of coastline, within a few miles of each other. They were all facing the same body of water, the River Plate, so when you went out you would usually see Optimists from different clubs. A race course would be set up so that it took everyone roughly the same amount of time to get to there. In Argentina sailors are members of a club and each club has teams, depending on sailors’ experience, and each club has their own coaches to train and support a team. So out on the water there would be one RIB with one or two coaches per club instead of the safety boats as we have. The only other boats would be the Committee boat and the mark-laying boat.
Here the system is very different because you have to travel to get to a championship or training. And also some clubs don’t have enough kids for a proper team so the parents have to hire a coach for their children only. In Argentina there were no squads. There are championships just like here where you can qualify to get into international events. The concept of squads was new to me but I’ve really enjoyed the experience and I’ve learnt a lot from it. Looking forward to applying what I’ve learnt into the future.

SE Zone Squad Report

Felix Goodman, GBR 5705, Chipstead Sailing Club

Six weekends, six venues, ten keen Optimist sailors, two awesome performance coaches (Olly and Josh) and lots of wind.  This was my winter, as part of the RYA South East Optimist Zone Squad.

Being part of the squad has given me training from professional coaches for the first time and I noticed that my sailing skills improved quickly.  At Hayling Island and Inchenor Sailing Clubs we learnt how to deal with strong tidal conditions, especially whilst racing. With so many of the weekends being windy, I have also learnt better strong wind boat handling techniques. 

I gained valuable racing experience. Different start strategies, beating tactics, avoiding dirty air and the importance of knowing the rules thoroughly were all key areas covered in the training.  I am already noticing the difference in my performance at my own club and I look forward to practising these on the Optimist racing circuit.

I have worked hardest on my starting, particularly cutting out ‘Cowboy Starboard-end starts’ (as my coach puts it!)  My light wind roll tacks have also been improved, now that I have been encouraged to ‘kiss the deck’.  

One of my favourite weekends was at Datchet Water, where we were fortunate to spend one of the days racing against the East Zone and Intermediate National Squad who were also sharing the venue.  I enjoy big fleet racing and loved the challenge of trying to out-sail more experienced sailors. I am now working on my ‘gap maintenance’ on the start line, which will help me accelerate hopefully to the front of the fleet in the future.

If, like me, you are a keen Optimist sailor who enjoys racing and want to take your skills to the next level, why not apply for the RYA Zone squads next year? It is also a terrific opportunity to make friends with other like-minded sailors.

Hurricane Katy at Braassemermeer 2016

A fleet of 70 British Sailors entered the Braassemermeer regatta in The Nederland’s including the British Team. Alan Williams was the lead GBR coach supported by three more coaches. There were other ribs on hand to support Development Squad and other GB sailors. Alan Williams had briefed sailors and parents not to allow activities which might lead to injury. The girls behaved impeccably. The boys played rugby!

On day one and two the 240 sailors sailed int 4 fleets and enjoyed great sailing in near perfect conditions. On day three and after some technical issues the sailors were re-flighted into Gold, Silver and Bronze. Sailing resumed in increasingly stronger winds. Racing was abandoned due to huge gusts just after the gold fleet had crossed the finish line near the club house. The silver fleet were following, just completing their first beat and were told to head the short distance to the clubhouse. Lots of capsizing. The bronze fleet hadn’t started yet and after the abandonment had a mile long beat to get back. It was a great effort from them in what was really unsailable conditions.

In the afternoon and it was a brave call to send the Gold and Silver fleet onto the water in tough conditions. The wind was still increasing at the end of racing. Wheels were removed from launching trailers and boats had to be tied down to prevent them taking off. Hurricane Katy had arrived with 60mph gusts and so no sailing on day 4.

Congratulations to Julia Mellers, Jamie Cook, Archie Leckie, Ellen Main and Cossie Lewis who have top five GBR honours, Harvey Leigh, Nicklas Host-Verbraak and Tobias Schonrock for top three in the Juniors. Well done to Fergus Fox collecting a prize for winning the silver fleet.

Squad or no squad I would whole heartedly recommend attending the event but preferably without the hurricane.

Ex Optimist Sailors excel at RYA Youth Nationals 2016

The Easter Holidays saw the arrival of the premier RYA Youth event of the year, the RYA Youth Nationals. This year the event was held at Pwllheli SC in North Wales on the 2-8th April. Over 270 sailors were entered some for their first event in their respective youth classes and others battling it out for the summer 2016 RYA Youth Squads and team places in this summer competition phase. The week provided some challenging conditions for all the sailors with sailors having the opportunity to show their skills in both light and heavy winds. Youth Racing Manager and Event Director Mark Nicholls had the challenge of having to postpone racing for both too little and too much wind with racing being abandoned on the Wednesday due to 35+ knots of breeze. However by the end of the week enough races were held across the fleets to be able to proclaim Junior National Champions in all classes.
Laser Standard
1st Anthony Parke - (Op Nat Squad)
6th Matt Whitfield - (Op Nat Squad)
9th Hamish Eckstein - (Op Int Squad)
10th Joe Woodley - (Op Dev Squad)

Laser Radial Boys
1st Jamie Calder - (Op Nat Squad)
2nd Jake Farren-Price - (Op Dev Squad)
3rd Dan Whitely - (Op Nat Squad)
5th Milo Gill-Taylor - (Op Nat Squad)
7th George Ford - (Op Nat Squad)
9th Will Bedford - (Op Int Squad)

Laser Radial Girls
2nd Clementine Thompson - (Op Int Squad)
14th Eloise Tanguy - (Op Dev Squad)
15th Mila Monaghan - (Op Dev Squad)
3rd Aaron Holman (& Nathanial Gordon)
4th Huw Edwards & Josh Dawson - (Op Nat & Int Squad)
6th Max Clapp & Ryan Orr - (Op Nat Squad)
10th Ross Banham & Alex King - (Op Nat Squad)
12th Max Moyles & James Eales - (Op Nat Squad & Zone Squad)
14th Hamish Taylor (& Rory Rose) - (Op Nat Squad)
15th Jessie Main (& David Brand) - (Op Nat Squad)
18th Hattie Rogers (& Orla Mitchell) - (Op Nat Squad)
19th (Courtney Bilbrough) & Hanna Brant - (Op Dev Squad)

2nd Jenny Cropley & Emma Baker - (Op National Squad)
3rd Alex Smallwood & James Scott - (Op Nat Squad & Zone Squad)
4th Robbie King (& Marcus Tressler) - (Op Nat Squad)
5th Dan Atherton & Matt Viney - (Op Nat Squad & Op Int Squad)
6th Hatty Morsley & Pippa Cropley - (Op Nat Squad)
7th James Clemetson (& Will Birch-Tomlinson) - (Op Nat Squad)
8th Ella Bennett & Emily Gent - (Op Nat Squad & Zone Squad)
13th Vita Heathcote & Milly Boyle - (Op Nat Squad)

Find out more about the great offers available through the Volvo Affinity schemes here

Gill Competition Winner

Charlie Fensom, GBR 6393. Pennine Sailing Club. North Zone

Charlie Fensom was the happy winner of a top of the range Oppie worth £3,500 donated by Gill. Her dad entered her into the competition and the first she knew about it was a phone call telling her she was the lucky one!
Charlie was introduced to sailing by a friend, and has just participated in the North Zone squad this winter. With the squad she’s learnt lots about racing, starts, and how to handle high winds. In her club, the Pennine Sailing Club in the Peak District, she enjoys club racing and the friendliness of everyone there.
She was invited to Gill headquarters to collect her prize, and everyone there was very friendly. She can’t believe how fast a new hull feels, and she’s christened her new boat ‘Bug’.
IOCA would love to hear your news to share with it's members.  Please continue to send your articles, photos, poems or news stories to us here

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