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Welcome to a bumper edition of Op-eNews!
Issue 8: September 2014
From the Committee

Chairman's Update

We are now approaching the end of another summer season for Optimists across the country and the level of activity in all regions has been super, from local flotilla Optimist Camps, weekly club Saturday / Sunday training / racing, open meetings and of course IOCA’s own events.  This is, in many ways, the essence of the Optimist class and the Committee is keen to promote it by encouraging flotillas and clubs by put their open training or regattas on our IOCA calendar. For those who want to continue to do some training during the winter, you will start to see IOCA’s regional training program on the calendar, mostly consisting of six training sessions through the winter in each region.  If you have an event that is open to members (or any Optimist sailors), please email the details.

Many of you have been attending the RYA Zone Championships (latest count 237 Optimists) and these regattas are following by Volvo Gill End of Season Championship. This year we are trialling the introduction of a “Transition” fleet, to sail on the same course as the Regatta fleet. You will see a description of this and why we are doing it on the End of Season's webpage In summary, we feel it allows us to better cater for a wide range of abilities in Regatta fleet, without promoting a premature move the Main fleet. The Transition fleet will have no upper age limit.

The End of Seasons is the final ranking event of the year for determining our National, Intermediate and Development Squads and part of the Selection process for the Irish team next year. (all squad policies are available on the website). Following the successful expansion of last year’s Development squad, we want to encourage older sailors to stay in the class a bit longer and get all the benefits it has to offer.

We have had many teams representing us at international events during the summer, following the Selection Trials, including the Europeans in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. Congratulations to those selected and best of luck to the Worlds team that will be heading off to Argentina in October.

Of course we had our National Championships in Weymouth in August and the feedback was very positive, helped by some fine English weather. The winds were excellent right up to the last day, which left the close to 500 sailors very satisfied. In particular the Regatta fleet had its best entry for many years, which hopefully bodes well for the future of the class. My thanks to all the volunteers who made the event successful and especially to Jay, Sharon and Gillian.

Finally your new Committee was elected in August and we are 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

Mark Lyttle
IOCA Chairman


Following the 2014 AGM held at the Nationals in Weymouth, we'd like to welcome some new members to the committee:

President - Jay Williamson
Vice Chairman - Tim Davies
Sailing Secretary - Oliver Schonrock
Training (Squads) - John Holloway
Marketing - Fiona Fry

Also Judy Warburton, Justine Wolgram, Judy Warburton and all the new memebrs of the various sub-committees.
Membership Matters
Membership of the class is required for the End of Seasons, Winters and IOCA Area Winter Training.
Welcome to all our new IOCA members!

Dates for Your Diary

Buttons below take you straight to the event website
End of Seasons ........ 11th/12th Oct 2014
Winter Championships... 22/23 Nov 2014
Spring Championships... 28/29 Mar 2015
National Championships ... 25/31 Jul 2015
Nationals Lost & Found

Gill Kit Trial - If you forgot/were unable to return your Gill Kit Trial items after Friday's sailing at the Nationals, please could you send them back with feedback to Gill, Manor House Road, Long Eaton, Nottingham, NG10 1LR.

Other Items - If you accidentally picked up some additional kit, please let know and we will try and reunite it with it's owner!


Just  2 weeks until the start of the 

2014 Volvo Gill
Optimist End of Season Championships

 Now is the time to:
  • ENTER (if you haven't done so already).  There are three fleets this year Main, Transition and Regatta
  • Volunteer for a duty
  • Check your buoyancy test is in date (after 12th Oct 2013)
  • Enter the Volvo Car competition
  • Look out for a discount voucher from Gill
  • Please check the event page regularly as it is being updated on a regular basis with details about the event, venue, ribs etc

Volunteering De-mystified: The Finish Boat

by Amanda Morsley
Volunteering on the Finish Boat provides you with an opportunity:
  • To get a great view of the sailing,
  • Make new friends
  • To understand the conditions faced by the race management and the sailors
  • To be part of the action
  • To support the event and the sailors in making the event seamless and fun
It does mean a long day on the water, you need to take your own food and drink (and sometimes get to  share delicious cakes made by others) you may get wet and cold so you need to dress for the occasion.

The finish boat has periods of inactivity when you are waiting for the finishers to come through the gate – then the hard work starts. In general there are two callers – the main caller on the finish boat and the second caller on the pin end. The boats come in thick and fast and depending on the wind conditions the next ten minutes can be quite frantic. Three recorders (writers) will note down the numbers on the finish sheet in the order called. Two recorders listen to the main finish caller whilst the third is with the pin end caller. If there is enough room on the finish boat and there are enough volunteers then a spotter will be used to note down numbers that were difficult to spot as they crossed the line. Places matter to all the sailors so a caller needs to call clearly (without shouting)  – the writers need to write legibly. The caller will call gap if they can’t read a number at which point the writer leaves a gap and moves on. At the end of the finish the sheets are collated and the main finish sheets cross referenced against the other two sets. Missing gaps are filled in. The main caller will usually use a tape recorder which is used as a back up. Quite often the finish is videoed – depending on the number of volunteers. As soon as the finish results are in order they are emailed into the race office . Any queries regarding finish results will be dealt with at the end of the day when the tape (and if applicable) video footage can be replayed and checked  on dry land.

At the main events such as the Selections, Inlands, Nationals and End of Seasons, the finish boat is generally managed by an experienced race officer who is a non-parent and oversees the process. They are considered as Assistant Race Officer to the Principle Race Officer. If the finish boat is used as the pin start then this person will call the line at the start of the race.  This ensures fairness to all sailors.

Volunteers working as anchor men on the finish boat often double up as recorders – again depending on the size of the boat and the number of volunteers.

Working the finish  is a skill and not suited to all. You often don’t know where your own sailor has finished. But it is fun (most of the time) As with all events 50% of the race team has already been arranged, but volunteers are always  required -  and hopefully will in turn take over the roles from those volunteers leaving the class.
News and Reviews
My Inlands By William Heathcote

We didn’t get much sleep as my cousin Finn had come over from Jersey and my other cousin Inigo was coming too, and along with my younger brother Henry we were all trying to sleep in the back of the motorhome.  But it was too hot, and we were too excited about the weekend sailing together, and we kept daring each other to do silly things in the barn with the cattle in beside us.

When we got to Grafham we were a bit late so luckily racing was postponed as there wasn’t enough wind. My sister Vita, Milly and Charlotte had come too and some other friends so there were 9 of us; 4 in regatta fleet and 5 in main fleet. We buddied up so that we could help rig and check over the regatta fleet boats.

It was very hot and nice to be sailing in just rash vests and board shorts. We had been planning on swimming as soon as we got out there but the water was full of goose poo and didn’t look that tempting.

The racing was really difficult as it was so shifty and they seemed to be completely unpredictable.  We carried out pre-start routines and found more wind on the right, but up the first beat the right got hung out to die. Then on the second beat, Vita and Benno were both doing really badly so Benno banged right and gained 30 places! I did my best to stick to the middle, though I found myself being drawn out to the left. This usually paid except the second race where a big left shift made me overstand by miles so I was able to get my discard out the way.

Alfie saw a snake chasing after him just before the last race. Tom Mitchell grabbed a hold of it and wanted to throw it into the girls boats but he couldn’t catch them so he threw it into Alfie’s, who then did the whole race with a snake swimming around in his boat – and he had his best race! The third race I just tried to feel it and go with wherever my oppie took me and yippee I got a bullet!

By now it was really late and we were all hungry and tired. I went to my Development Team meeting then we played rounders, football, cricket and rugby on the grass with about 50 other kids before dehydration and exhaustion overcame us.

The next day was an early start but as we were on site it was all quite easy. There was a bit more wind and it was much steadier; I was excited about going racing. I felt that I had basically worked out the pattern of shifts.

On the last race I had to beat Rhys by 5 or 6 places to win overall. Realistically, I was never going to do that, but it would be fun to try! I was 4th at the windward mark but up the second beat I found that I found the fleet coming downwind exactly where I wanted to get through from the left. To get through all that bad air quickly I would have to bear away too much, so I stayed out left and overstood which lost me several places and I dropped to 10th. Never mind, as I was still 3rd overall and got a huge cup for being first Junior. I felt that I had done about as well as I could have done in such tricky conditions.  It was noticeable that Milo wasn’t there. We all said it was the year 1 PM ie “Post Milo”, last year therefore being “the Year of Milo”.

We signed the sails of Pippa, Jack and Dan who were leaving. It’s always sad when people move on,, and the girls get very emotional about it. We have been through a lot together – and some of it pretty tough. Dan always has a smile on his face and something fun to say. He also helps us rig when we’re late! But I suppose they all need to move on the let the next lot have their time at the top.

2014 Volvo Gill British Nationals & Open Championships - Weymouth

Coached Regatta Fleet by Grace Pank

My name is Grace Pank and I sailed in coached regatta at the Nationals, I am 9 years old.

I think it was a fantastic place to sail, the waves were choppy, the wind was strong and it was very sunny.  I think that Weymouth is very similar to Blackwater Sailing Club.

I think that the briefings were very fun and we learnt loads of things, one of them was called a roll-gybe.  That was my favourite thing.  I enjoyed the Viking away day and I dressed up as a Viking maiden and I made loads of new friends.  My favourite thing this week was doing capsize drill.  I would recommend the Nationals to everybody at my club because it is such a good event..

Racing Regatta Fleet by Annabelle Pierce-Jones

We arrived at the Weymouth Sailing Academy on Saturday morning.  It was pouring with rain and I thought it would rain all week.  Luckily, we had good weather all week and I learnt a lot about sailing.  Gemma and Jamie were the best coaches ever.  Gemma taught me how to hike really well, and Jamie helped me with my mark rounding. 
After a long week of racing, we had the Viking day, which was a really fun day.  We did one race and then landed on the beach to have our lunch and an ice-cream.  The next day we did not go sailng, but I did a fun run and got Ben Ainslie's autograph which was really exciting.  I had a fantastic week which was great fun and I would do it all over again.


On water measurement requires close inspection of the craft!

2014 Eric Twiname Championships by India Page-Wood

The first day of the Eric Twiname consisted of waiting for updates about the weather forecast.  There were 65 Optimists who were all very keen to go out in 30 knots gusting at times 40.  The race officers kept us busy rigging and derigging all day just in case it settled but it was not to be.
After a long day waiting, the day ended with no racing but a game of human table football.  That was amazing fun!

On the Sunday, it was a bit wet but less windy than the previous day, 20=25 knots, so we got out finally and on time.  The race officer managed to get three races in but on the last race the wind picked up and it was a bit of a shambles but great fun!  we came in wet and exhausted.

Drew Gibbons was 1st, Emily Hall 2nd and Zac West 3rd.  It is the South-East zone who reigns victorious at the end of a very testing weekend for the Optimists.
IOCA Team reports
GBR Flanders Team 2014, Nieuwpoort  July 2014
by Archie Leckie
At first when I qualified for the Flanders team I was very proud to have the opportunity to represent GBR abroad. I did not know what it was going to be like but I expected to gain international experience and take a lot of new information on board to so I can do better in the future.

Flanders is in Belgium. My dad and I went on a ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge which took all night.  It was good to sleep on the boat and wake up in Belgium with only a very short drive to the competition. We stayed in a tent next to the sailing club which was fun because there were a lot of British sailors staying there too. On the team with me were Calum, Rosie, Matthew, Matt, Hamish and Johnny, but there were loads of other sailors from GBR including our world’s team.

The racing was harder than I expected.  There were a lot more key aspects to consider than in the sailing I usually encounter in Great Britain.  For example tides, waves and swell were all very influential on the racecourse - all things that you don't find on Pennington Flash where I normally sail.  On the first 2 days the wind was quite strong and the waves were huge which made some competitors seasick.  On the next two days the wind was light and the fleet struggled with the tide.  On the last day it was so windy that the races were called off (abandoned).  I was relieved.  
I enjoyed it because it was my first international competition and I was very proud to have got on the team.  I would like to thank my teammates who made the competition more fun and Duncan West our coach who helped me learn as much as I could from the experience. 
GBR Junior Irish Team 2014
Irish Nationals, Royal Cork YC, August 2014

by Callum Davidson-Guild
After a quick turnaround from the Nationals in Weymouth everyone headed to Cork for the Irish Nationals which were being held at the Royal Cork Yacht Club.  For many of the team, including me, this was the first time we had been part of a team and everyone was really looking forward to it.  The rough seas on the crossing across the Irish Sea certainly blew away any cobwebs away and we all arrived for our first briefing session with Tom and Kat with lots of enthusiasm and hoping for a great week sailing.

Racing was due to start on Thursday but as the team had got there 2 days early we could get some much needed training in to get used to the waters.  The yacht club is situated on a river outlet from the sea and we’d been told that the sailing areas were very tidal.  The practice we’d all got at Lymington earlier in the year really helped us but the tides still caught some of us out in some races.

The training days were good with strong winds between 18 and 22 knots and believe it or not blue skies and sun.  We spent a lot of time working on lane holding, understanding the tides and practice racing.  Everyone was sailing really well and we had lots of fun but not without incidents; my dad’s laying of the windward mark caused total chaos because the tide meant that as we were rounding the mark we kept catching our centerboards on the rope, it did make us all laugh though!

On the first night after training we all had a team meal at the sailing club where we could all get to know each other better and the parents could meet properly.  A lot of the squad was all staying in the same hotel so after sailing we’d head back to the hotel and all meet in the hotel’s swimming pool.  

The opening ceremony was held on the night before the racing began.  There were 92 entries in the Junior fleet and we made sure that everyone knew we were there by waving our Union Jacks very high.  
After a 9.00 am start and briefing from Tom and Kat we were told we were racing in area “A” which was about a 3 mile sail to the race area – the wind was blowing about 13-15 knots.  We managed to do 2 races but it was a day of general recalls because of the shifting winds – one start was stopped with 20 seconds to go because the wind had done a 90° shift.  There was also a massive rain shower that lasted about 5 minutes but soaked us all!  After a long day we were all grateful when we were told we’d be towed back by the safety boats.  Back at the club we reflected on the day’s racing and all headed off.

It was a great start for GBR with Kai and Archie both having a win in the first two races.  The standings after the first 2 races were; William Heathcote (2nd), Kai Wolgram (4th), Alex Shonrock (5th), Callum Davidson-Guild (6th ) and Jonny Thompson (7th).  Everyone hoped that we could keep it up with 5 GBR sailors in the Top 7!

Racing Day 2
Racing today was in Area B which meant we had to go across the shipping lane channel – again it was another long sail to the sailing area and when we got to the sailing area we were able to check the flow of the tide.  There were some good results today with William having a 1st and 3rd and Bettine having a brilliant 2nd place in race 3 after the nightmare start to the race.  Everyone was trying to start at the pin end which was really difficult with about 50 boats in about 30 meters of water.  To add to the chaos the wind dropped, making it really hard for everyone to get away. A number of the team ended up using the result from this race as one of their discards.

After another long tow back to the sailing club we were all ready for our de-brief and some more down time.

Racing Day 3
Another racing area today – Area C.  This was over the far side of Cork harbor and again we had to cross the shipping lane but this time there was a massive ship that we had to sail by and we felt tiny next to it.  The wind was due to blow 18-20 knots and the tide was running right to left but in race 1 after a general recall they went to a black flag start and a lot of the team got black flags but at least we were pushing for the line.  We did 3 races today and in the challenging conditions there were some mixed results across the team.  India and I got the best results of the day with a 3rd place each.  On returning to the club everyone was really upbeat and enjoying their sailing particularly as a number of the team had received daily prizes for their results.

Racing Day 4
The last day of racing – there were 2 races scheduled and the team were all in good positions to finish the event.  We sailed again in area C so had another long sail to the start line.  Conditions again were good but most of us struggled with the tide today; a large number of sailors (not just us) were overstating the marks and had to virtually a run back to the mark – sorry Tom and Kat we did listen, honest!  But we finished the week as we’d started with 2 GBR sailors winning the last two races, well done Jonny and Alexandra.

We had a great week in Ireland – the weather was much better than we expected with sun and good winds.  The people were really friendly and the team had a great week in terms of results – 11 GBR sailors finishing in the top 15!  Well done everyone.  

Thank you to Tom and Kat for all their support and to our parents for taking us.
Team Overall Results:  3rd – William Heathcote (3rd),  Alexandra Schonrock (5th - 1st girl), Johnny Thompson (6th),  Henry Chandler (8th), Archie Leckie (9th), Callum Davidson-Guild (10th), Kai Wolgram (11th), Tobias Schonrock (12th), Barty Gray (13th), Joshua Davies (14th), India Page-Wood (15th), Oliver Evans (21st),  Bettine Harris (22nd), Phoebe Le Marquand (27th), Ben Wood (28th), Elizabeth Beardsall (28th)
GBR European Team 2014
European Championships, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland  July 2014

by Ella Bennett
This year the Europeans was held in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. Having been out for a week of training at half term and a week prior to the event, we felt very familiar with the venue. That together with the local knowledge gathered and wise words from the amazing Vagelis, we hit the ground running for the first day! The opening ceremony was an incredible event! Only after 44 different brightly coloured flags are paraded down the street, surrounded by the babble of almost as many languages can you fully understand how amazingly international the sailing scene really is.

On the first day the atmosphere was tense. It was a windy day, which only added to the nerves already bubbling on the surface, especially after a light wind selections and trainings. That all being said, we walked away with some decent results, which we could work with. As the week progressed we fell into a routine. We remained well-rested and fed thanks to the incredible and long-suffering Sarah.

We collected a range of good scores! We had an impressive 14th overall by Alex and 40th European by Milo. Haydn came 6th overall in bronze fleet and Ollie was 15th in silver fleet. In the girls fleet, Julia had a storming start with her first 5 races in the top 25, sadly dropping a bit to secure a solid 46th. Sophie was ‘Miss Consistent’, which appeared in her favor as the regatta went on, due to the high scoring races and the single discard. Sophie finished 15th in silver fleet which was pretty impressive.  Lets just say I was not so consistent, holding top girl for a day with two 2nds along with a capsize on the line on the first race and a black flag in the fifth race. Altogether I managed to come out 40th overall.

I really enjoyed the event not only due to the sailors and competition but also the amazing group of people I was lucky to go with. I felt that it prepared me well for moving on to the 420 fleet as well as providing good memories to look back on.
Fleets and Flotillas
Norfolk Broads YC - by Lisa Pank

The April Opi regatta, run immediately following our junior training week, was a great success.  11 entries to the Gold Fleet and 17 entries to the Silver Fleet with travellers from at least 4 IOCA East area clubs, encouraged by our brilliant IOCA representative Nicky Johnson (BSC).

Force three winds provided ideal conditions for four hard fought races, run by Race Officer Flip Foulds (ex-Opi sailor).  For the gold fleet there was a tie for first place with Jonathan Bailey (Hunts SC) and William Pank (NBYC), tied on 4 points with two 1st and two 2nd places each, Jonathan winning on count back to take the Pank Optimist trophy.  Another tie for 3rd taken by Charlie Harbott (BSC) with Alex Knight the first girl.

The silver/regatta fleet had a significant number of first time racers competing in their first ever race/open, encouraged by prizes kindly donated by IOCA.  The winner Charlotte Knight counted a first, second and third.  Oliver Leary was only adrift by 1 point after starting with a first and second with another tie for second place from Ella Bowman (AYC) who was third.  A special mention to Ellie Ringwood (NBYC) who won a rash vest donated by IOCA for the endeavour prize.
Trearddur Bay attracts over 100 Optimists by Sharon Davidson-Guild
The end of July saw Trearddur Bay Sailing Club running its annual Optimist Sail Training Week (“Oppy Week”) for members aged 7-13.  Each year the numbers keep growing and this year saw a record 110 sailors taking part.  The week caters for all levels of experience and ability.  The first level saw 30 children sailing for the first time and the National Racing Group saw seven sailors fine tuning their skills ready for the Nationals in Weymouth, the following week. 
The training is built on the IOCA training programme with key aims, as well as teaching them to sail, of showing them how much fun they can have sailing an Optimist and the fantastic friendships they can make.  The week also provides an opportunity for their IOCA Training log book to be updated to show their achievements over the week.
Many of the club’s other junior sailors joined in the week by helping out and providing support and guidance to the younger members of the club, giving them valuable coaching experience.  

This year’s week saw favorable sailing conditions with plenty of sunshine and wind.  The progress of the sailors during the week was clear to see, with over 60 Optimists racing in the club’s Friday Cup Race at the end of the week (43 regatta sailors and 22 main fleet sailors).  This was an amazing sight to watch from the club’s flagstaff but caused a small challenge for the race spotters!   For over half of the sailors it was their first introduction to racing and the following four weeks of the Trearddur Bay racing calendar regularly saw over 25 Optimists racing on the two different courses, hampered only by some strong winds and rough seas!

Chichester Open Meeting by Jane Snook

The annual Chichester Yacht Club Optimist Open meeting part of the Southern Travellers Series took place on Saturday 30 August.  The event was generously sponsored by Marine Superstore and attracted a fleet of fifty local and visiting Optimist sailors. A bright morning greeted the competitors and an afternoon tide made for a relaxed morning of arrivals and boat preparation with great enthusiasm amongst the youngsters keen to see the arrival of the water to go racing.  

The 38 boat Main Fleet was made up of a mix of National and Zone Optimist squad sailors and regular racers. The wind started around west, with a little north in it at times, and a reasonable F4 allowing the Main fleet to sail a trapezoidal course with the challenge of the windward mark laid in the stronger tide mid-channel.  As the wind was blowing slightly off the northern shore, there were significant shifts to be exploited.  The start line was laid with little wind bias but some tide advantage to the pin end for the first race. With a slightly fresher wind at the start the fleet got away cleanly and spread out across the water.  Towards the end of that race the wind started to back toward South west so the course was adjusted quickly before race 2 and with the tide easing and reversing during the race there were good strategic challenges to be met.  After a good long race 2, the course was adjusted again to give more of a sprint course for race 3 as the wind had eased a little and the downwind legs were slowed by the tide. That squeezed the fleet into many close manoeuvres around the course.  Chichester YC sailors Julia Mellors and Arthur Fry took first and second place respectively with Henry Chandler of Emsworth SC third.
The 12 boat Regatta fleet included local and national club sailors, one sailor taking part in his first open meeting.  All three races close to the club house offered an excellent view for spectators.  All the races were closely contested.  One point decided the final results with Cam Yates taking first place, Alice Snook of Chichester YC second and Cameron Hook in third.
To round off a fantastic days racing, Chichester Yacht Club put on its usual fine Regatta Tea. Trophies and prizes were awarded and special thanks were given to Marine Superstore for supporting the event with prizes of Zhik sailing wear accompanying the glassware.
Abersoch Dinghy Week saw 6 hot July days of light winds and glorious sunshine with beach games, swimming, BBQs, a live band and of course some great sailing, with afternoon racing and 2 mornings of IOCA Optimist class-training for 30 Optimist sailors from around the UK.  Lots of fun was had on this week-long family beach holiday and many new friendships made.
Class Connections
Feva Fever! by Dermot Gannon

I started sailing an oppie Burghfield Sailing Club when I was about six. Through the oppie club which ran every Sunday in the spring/summer I learnt the basics of rigging, boat handling and racing.

I went on to represent BSC on the oppie circuit competing in open events around Britain; the highlight of the year being the nationals. The training that was put on at BSC really helped me improve and combined training with Warsash SC gave me experience sailing on the sea. I was selected for South zone and then Development 
squad which really helped me improve, especially with racing tactics and the finer arts of boat handling. I really loved the oppies, not for the training or the results, but because I saw my non-school mates most weekends.

I am now oppie age 14, so I still had a year to go, but I’ve really struggled to progress since junior fleet, I’m ok on lakes but haven’t spent enough time on the sea to have developed good wave technique, and despite being still quite short, I didn’t really want another winter in Development squad, so I started to ask my mates about what they were doing. My friend James Gent had a different problem, he has grown too big for oppies so he also decided to move on. So this year was my last Nationals and after 8 years in an oppie, I decided to move on. The day after the Nationals my dad took 5285 to its new home. De Boltz, Bullock, Woodley, Gannon and now Ollie Woodley has the job to make it go fast, I know he loves it already.

My brother and sister both successfully transitioned into Fevas and were both selected for squads quickly as oppie training and racing had helped them become better sailors. They really enjoyed sailing a double handed boat, and both sailed with good friends who had been oppie sailors and who were also ready to transition. The Feva looked like a fun boat to sail and seemed to be the best boat for me to go to after an oppie as I am not heavy enough for a Laser.  Fevas offer a good transition to other, bigger, more technical boats like 420s, which I hope to sail in the future.

My crew James and I have known each other since we were 6, after 8 years racing each other we are now enjoying racing together and learning how to share all the decisions an oppie sailor has to take on their own. We were pleasantly surprised at how many other sailors we knew from the oppie circuit at Feva events and the people are friendly and helpful.

We have attended Feva training at BSC and have attended several events recently, we won our first event at Bosham (OK, so most of the Feva sailors were at their Worlds that day!), but it was great for our confidence and competitive spirit.  We enjoyed Lymington Youth week, it was strong winds, but we stayed mainly upright and had a ton of laughs. Whilst we were there we won the Feva pursuit race and got to know some other Feva sailors. Lots of the older Feva sailors have moved onto 29ers, so at our first National Squad selector we got a 7th and an 8th, our next selector is this weekend in Northampton.

Feva’s run an RYA National Squad and a class National Squad, and all of the RYA zone squads, so there is loads of formal coaching and lots of events. Oppie sailors have had good success in Feva’s with several becoming World Champion, they really are a great transition boat.

I really enjoyed my time in oppies and some of my best friends started in the class. I am very pleased that some of them are appearing in Fevas so we continue to race each other
Globe Trotting 
Visiting Japan To Race by Zac West

Spending four days in Tokyo and living like the local kids was an experience I will never forget!

I was one of two GBR Optimist sailors along with Maisie Harkess who were invited to attend the International Friendship All Japan Regatta in May.  When I heard that the racing would be held at the club and water area to be used for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, I was really excited.

The day came and we flew off early afternoon from Heathrow Terminal 5.  It took 11 hours to get to Narita airport.  Flying toward the east meant that we missed a whole night's sleep on the airplane.  By the time we got through customs, it was 11am and we were longing to get into our beds to get some sleep.  Instead, the bus that collected us from the airport was directed to Koto Sailing Club in Tokyo Bay and we were asked to collect our chartered boats.  There we met the RYA Olympic Manager and the RYA High Performance Manager who stayed with us for two days.  We also met the Danish and Singaporean teams and made some new friends until eventually, the bus came at around 4pm to take us to our hotel.  We were exhausted by then!
The Japanese hosts kept us on a tight schedule every day.  We had to get up at 5.45am, had our breakfast at 6.30am and got on the shuttle bus at 7.15am.  We launched for sailing at 9am and returned to the beach by midday to have our very Japanese style packed lunch eaten with chopsticks.  it contained some pickled vegetables, rice, a small pair of sausages and a meat ball in soya sauce. After lunch, we sailed out again at around 1.30pm and returned by 4pm to get onto the bus that was leaving at 5pm to return to our hotel.
Every evening there was something happening.  On Friday evening al nine teams had a joint supper at the hotel.  On Saturday evening we all dressed up and took part in the four hour long opening ceremony and the present exchanging party.  On Sunday evening we walked into the city centre to have a better choice of food for supper!  We ended up in the Ginza area and went to a very nice restaurant.  We had the biggest ice cream monsters that I have ever seen in my life!  Tokyo's Ginza area is like London's Oxford Street; there were lots of neon signs and shops selling big label brands such as Prada.  The atmosphere there was amazing!  On our last evening, we attended to the four hour long closing ceremony and the prize giving.  It was another lengthy event and it felt strange that the whole event came to an end.
Sailing wise, our course was right in front of Tokyo Disneyland.  On the first day I finished in 9th place, then 13th the next day.  Monday morning i wanted to improve my position but the morning did not start as we planned. We were shaken out of our beds just after 5am by a 
magnitude of 5, earthquake.  It was rather scary, but luckily nobody got hurt! 

day's racing was a disaster too!  The wind was far too light, the current in the water was strong and we ended up with five general recalls, no finished races and in the same positions we had the day before.

I did find that Japan has a very different culture from the Western World.  The people there are very polite, friendly and patient.  I will never forget the scenery when we got onto the shuttle bus between the airport and the sailing club.  The people who sold and collected the tickets and supervised the boarding, lined up outside the building.  When the bus pulled away, they bent over to bow before us.  The Japanese passengers nodded their heads in response to say good bye to them.  I felt like I was a prince!

All in all, I had a really good time in Tokyo and met so many new friends from Denmark, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Korea and Japan.  I hope I will see them all soon.
Racing my Oppie around the 4 corners of Spain By Vita Heathcote

Last winter I was fortunate enough to attend all 4 major Spanish regattas, and this is what I found...

1.    Vigo, Galicia; the Atlantic Cup. November 2013. 330 sailors from 11 countries
Vigo is a major fishing city, from which many of the explorers set off to discover the Americas. The Clubhouse was shaped a bit like the cabin of an old fashioned ship.  It was great fun because Milly, Charlotte and Pippa were doing it, as well as Milo and Alex, and we were all staying together in the hotel opposite the Club. The regatta started off wet and windy but fizzled out as the wind died away. I was probably a bit jammy as we only managed 4 races in total, and the last one was really shifty – William pulled off a win and I got 2nd! The Spanish girl Aina (who came 2nd in the Europeans) won it, and Spanish legend Albert Torres 6th. Generally the GBRs did really well: Milo came 3rd, I came 5th, and Pippa 8th. We won fantastic prizes of sextants, telescopes, and compasses. As 1st Junior and 2nd girl I got the full range!

2.    Palma, Balearic Isles. Dec 2013. 367 sailors from 11 countries.
The best thing about Palma was the bike ride along the sea front from our really swanky bling house to the Club. And it was hot – people playing beach volleyball even swimming. During the days the parents headed out into the mountains and long lunches. We also had Calum and Pippa with us so again the social side of things was a big part of it. We even held a party one night, inviting all the other GBRs and the Danes. Unfortunately the sailing was a bit of a waste of time, though Alan did his best to keep us busy. There was a really good breeze before we went out and after we got back in – but nothing in between! So we got 2 races in and, as far as I was concerned, they were a waste of time – but maybe I was still in beach volleyball mode!

3.    Torrevieja, Costa Blanca. Jan 2014. 313 sailors from 15 countries (ed. also the venue providing the most enormous paella!)
As we stepped off the plane in Murcia a blast of hot air hit us and, surrounded by palm trees, I knew this was going to be a treat. We drove through huge groves of oranges and lemons, all being harvested, as well as giant savoy cabbages and iceberg lettuces, all grown in deep sandy soil. We got to the Club, which is very smart, and has a swimming pool at the front. We met up with Ella, who I was teaming up with for this event, coached by the legendary Diego Blatt. I had got a boat from the Club, and I could see why it was so cheap! No excuses but my tiller extension broke off on the first day and, bearing in mind it was gusting 28kts, it put me out of the regatta. Alex (5th), Milo (8th) and Ella (12th) all sailed out of their skins though, and at the prize giving were able to present a RLymYC pennant to the Commodore of the RCNT.

4.    Palamos, Costa Brava. Feb 2014. 378 sailors from 23 countries.
In Palamos I was lucky enough to be coached by my uncle Stru, who had come out for a family holiday with us. We got off to a bad start, getting lost and Dad arrested (don’t ask!) in Barcelona. But we eventually made it to Palamos.  Launching from the beach was easy and relaxed.

On the first race I was able to take advantage of a big line sag and, in a brief moment of glory, arrived at the windward mark first, or would have done if I hadn’t overstood it! The sailing conditions were amazing: not a cloud in the sky, 18-22kts, huge waves that gave an exhilarating downwind. By the 3rd race it was averaging more like 25 kts and much of the fleet couldn’t cope with the “mini-tsunamis”, as we called the huge breaking waves that were decimating half the fleet. Sophie and I screamed our way up the last beat, gaining about 30 places from all the wipe outs.

The next day was more of the same, although I was aching badly from all that hiking yesterday. I have never worked so hard, and I found that as long as I got a good start I was able to sail the race as I wanted. Arriving at the windward mark 3rd, I was aware that one mistake and I had a lot to lose. Going down the run we were surfing every wave, kiting by the lee, pumping when a jury whistle blows and points at us. Phew, it wasn’t me, so I was now 2nd and going into the gate thought I might be able to get inside but whoops, I hit the mark! As I bore away for the gybe part of my 360 a massive wave picked me up and surfed me off downwind, past all the coach boats – yikes! I recovered, a bit red faced, to finish 8th.

The final day, the wind was coming from the opposite direction, really shifty off the land. Every move seemed to be the wrong one, and the fleet was very unforgiving. Fortunately everyone else had as much difficulty, so I was still able to finish 19th overall.  As 3rd girl I won a huge cup and a sailing watch – and another (huge cup and fancy watch) for being 2nd Junior.

The usual format is for a Qualifying series on Fri and Sat, and Final Series ie Gold, Silver or Bronze on the Sunday, with 3 races each day. Most events run clinics all week beforehand, though I didn’t do any of these. I have made lots of friends from lots of different countries, and it’s always really fun when we bump into each other at the next event!

In all the places it was probably warmer than expected on the land – 20 to 25 degrees, like summer at home, but colder on the water.

I got the feeling that it probably all cost a bit more than expected; there were some things that Dad winced at, and other times he seemed to think he had just made a profit!

The race committees were all exceptionally good and the course is always a big “Worlds Course”, with a very short finish line. Together these regattas make up the Optimist Excellence Cup.
Sailing in Workum, Netherlands By Phoebe Roberts

It was good fun and good practise to be in the Dutch Youth Regatta, the Netherlands. The regatta started on the 29th May and ended on the 1st June but we arrived two days earlier to enjoy the 'summer' sun but we found that the Welsh weather had trailed us - it was pouring! 
There was torrential rain for 2 days flat and the field we were camping in was soon full of mud and bogs! 

On the 28th of May, registration started at 4:00pm. There were big queues but it quietened down after some time. It wasn't like British reg. You had to take your sail and foils and they would measure them in special cases and give it a sticker and signed it. For the sail, they just stamped it and signed and they didn't ask for any documents but we later found out that when we launch, they check for the stickers and stamps on your foils and sails to check you haven't changed anything.

On the first day of sailing, the first start was at 1:00pm. We had to launch into the canal by lifting our boats into the water so if you're going, bring someone strong! It was interesting to see all the other classes of boats sailing there too - lasers, 29ers, 420's, cadets and splashes, as well as lots of other dutch boats like the sailing barges with leeboards (foils on the outside) sailing up and down the canals and into the towns. There were 7 flights in total and whichever flight you were put in, you would race them all day. The first 2 days were qualifiers. On the water, it was very shallow and choppy but when the wind filled in towards the ends of the days, there was some great racing. Because of the likeness to Argentina, the Worlds team were practising there. There was big competition from a range of countries from all over the world, including India and Argentina!

On the third day, we were put into our 7 flights:gold, silver, bronze, emerald, ivory, pearl and ruby. So, in the morning we were all up at 7:00am ready to go and then we launched, and suddenly they told us to go in! We were very confused because they were talking really fast in different languages but we got in and then they postponed it for 2 hours. After an hour of confusion we were finally told that they had got the results messed up because the day before, pink and purple finished together so they got the results mixed up! So we waited for another hour...., and another hour....And it turned out that we waited about 6 hours at the boat park doing nothing at all!. We eventually were told to launch at about 3:00pm and we got in 2 races. I did really badly in the them as well because all that time had made me switch off and a few good people didn't get good results as well. We came in at about 6:30pm.

The last day was frustrating as well, with a lot less wind but we got onto the water earlier than the day before. The gold and silver fleets started a race, but with multiple recalls, and the bronze fleet as well. But when emerald started, they recalled it and we ended up waiting hours on Alan Williams's rib playing word games with all the GB people because the race officer was waiting for the wind to fill in (which it didn't!). We needed to get in because we were getting the 9:00pm ferry back to the UK, so, without one race in, me, Tom, Matthew and Hannah sailed in. Just our luck - when we were halfway back to shore, the committee boat just happened to start another race!

We got the ferry back at 9:00pm. All the welsh lot were on this ferry so we had lots of laughs. Maddie bought a tiny football and we all played football with it on the deck in the basketball enclosure. The journey home after that was long and tiring, but I'd certainly want to go again.

The Dutch trip was amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants good experience in racing and big fleets!

GBR sailors and Alan Williams
at the Easter OptiSpring Regatta

July 2015, Pwllheli Sailing Club

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