News from IOCA (UK)
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Welcome to Op-eNews

Issue 16: December 2015

From The Committee

Chairman's Update

“Sailing is a volunteer based sport and Optimist sailing is no different. IOCA is really a group of parents that have come together to help plan and organise Optimist sailing in the UK. Although we have a paid administrator, the vast bulk of the work is done by volunteers – committee members, area reps, flotilla leaders, event co-ordinators and event volunteers. We want those volunteers to work together collaboratively and openly. IOCA should not be seen as a service but rather as members facilitating other members or parents. We want to provide opportunities for our sailors to learn to sail and learn to race and then progress to high quality competition but above all to become passionate, as Optimist sailing is just the start of their sailing story. We want to celebrate our teams and squads without sailors feeling this is the only thing in the class.” (Chairman’s report AGM 2015)
I am pleased to say that regional training is taking place with increased numbers this winter thanks to the efforts of local flotillas leaders, area reps and our Development Officer. You'll find more about it in the newsletter below. In addition we have three squads up and running, with the re-introduction of squad co-ordinators – thanks to Heather Beardsall, Janet Ashby and Grahame Dorrington for coming forward. The co-ordinators are being supported by house parents and other volunteers to help with things like squad jackets and RIBs. Mark Lance has agreed to act as the Class RIB co-ordinator, supported by custodians for each of our three RIBs. We also have two new volunteers for our newsletter – Marci Lopez Levy as editor and Andy Utting as producer. We have also re-introduced team managers and Milly Gray has come forward for the Braassemermeer Team at Easter.
These are just some examples of parents coming together in recent months to facilitate our activities.  Of course your committee (listed at the end of the newsletter) and various sub-committees (Sailing, Incorporation, Website), who are also volunteers, are working hard to plan the season ahead. My thanks to all.
Mark Lyttle

Dates For Your Diary

Springs Championships
5 - 6 March 16 

Cardiff Bay Yacht Club
29 Mar - 2 May 16
Inland Championships
14 - 15 May 16
Grafham Sailing Club

British National & Open Championships
30 July - 5 August 16
Largs Sailing Club
Late Summer Championships
10 - 11 Sept 16
Hayling Island Sailing Club
End of Season Championships
8 - 9 October 16
Rutland Sailing Club

Get Your Vote Out!

By John Perham, IOCA (UK) Administrator and Event Manager
We have two nominations as a class in the Yachts and Yachting annual awards. The Optimist Europeans 2015 has been nominated for event of the year. And Rhys Lewis has been nominated as Youth Sailor of the year.
Also with an Oppie connection, our class sponsor, photographer Peter Newton is nominated for capturing the spirit of adventure at the Europeans in Pwllheli. (see image above) Gill have also been nominated in the Kit innovation category for their Hydrophobe Top.
spirit of adventure at the Optimist Europeans in Pwllheli. - See more at:
Peter Newton captures the spirit of adventure at the Optimist Europeans in Pwllheli. - See more at:

Spread the word and get people to vote!
Vote here
Voting closes 4th December so please Vote Now!

Winter Training Roundup

Flotilla and Regional Winter Training

By Michelle Gent, IOCA Development Officer.

Optimist Winter Training is going from strength to strength with over 170 sailors participating in England alone and at least another 80 in the home countries: this seasons numbers look like being the best on record. A huge thanks needs to go to the Area Reps without whom none of this activity would happen and a massive Thank You goes to the parents for the hours of volunteering they do from driving ribs to wading around launching and recovering boats - without which none of this activity would happen.

To find out more, go to the IOCA website, and under the Events tab you’ll find the Calendar, a treasure trove of events being organized by clubs and regions to keep all keen sailors on the water over the winter.

Here’s a quick roundup of what is taking place and is being planned. You can also find out more by contacting the Area Reps and you can find their details on the IOCA website in the Contacts tab.

North East

The first three-day IOCA October half term training alongside the RYA High Performance Club training took place at Derwent Reservoir SC. The same three-day training will take place in May half term holiday and one week in the summer holidays.

The North East open winter training is taking place at Kielder Water sailing club 28/29 November 2015, Derwent Reservoir SC 30/31 January 2016 and Scaling Dam SC 12/13 March, 2016. You can apply on the IOCA website via the calendar.

For the second year there is sea training at South Shields SC on 23/24 April 2016. This is for Zone Squad level sailors and above. Hopefully dolphins will accompany the sailors again! To sign up and get more information, click here.

South East

The SE have organised five training weekends (all dates and signing up info on the IOCA Events Calendar). The area is pleased to announce that Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club has offered to host a sea training event  (weather permitting) in April 2016 as part of the winter training.

Communication has also been improved by setting up a Yahoo mail group to bring the South East into the 21st Century. It’s a closed forum for our Optimist parents where ideas, issues and events can be shared quickly and provides us with a reliable self-organising mail group. You can sign up by sending an email here, or check out the group page here.


Bookings are now being taken for the next three weekends of IOCA Open training to be held at Ardleigh SC over the winter. You can enter on-line if you want to do all four weekends here. 
West Mersea based coach Georgia Grice has also begun running some winter training on Sundays at Ardleigh SC. If you would like to contact Georgia about joining ASC as a winter member to take advantage of this training let Antony Gifford  know and an email can be forwarded to her. You do not need to be a member to participate in the IOCA Open Training. 

South West

IOCA Open Training has been arranged centrally in the region to encourage as much participation as possible: 

The first training session was held at Starcross Yacht Club on Sunday 22nd November, with the planned sailing on the Saturday having to be cancelled due to a wind forecast of 35-45knots. With the next two dates being:

16-17th January        Chew Valley Sailing Club
13-14th February      Frampton on Severn Sailing Club

This training is entirely 'open' to all sailors, although the one recommended pre-requisite is that they should be in possession of a dry-suit. Further information and application forms available online. The coaching line-up includes John Burford, Phil Sparks and James Grant.

Costs are £25 per day, dates have been chosen to ensure they do not clash with Zone Squad training for those who are considering supplementary training. Any queries and/or provisional bookings can be emailed to Tony Martin or call Tony on 07778814430


The Southern Area is unique in its winter training as it is solely for non squad sailors (the squad sailors having plenty of opportunity at some of the many clubs offering winter training). The training is run out of the sheltered Spinnaker Sailing Club and is always extremely popular. This year sees no exception with record numbers of 50 sailors taking to the water in the capable hands of 7 experienced coaches. For more information please contact us.

North West

NorthWest Optimist are on the rise again with the winter training being split between Leigh & Lowton SC and West Kirby SC. Great coaches are leading some fantastic coaching in sometimes challenging conditions with lots of happy sailors at the end of the day. For more information please click this link.


The Midland Optimists really have pulled out all the stops this year with over 20 sailors regularly taking to the water. Training is happening in a variety of different lakes testing these young sailors boat handling skills. For more information please email the Midlands Area rep.

Teams and Squads

Congratulations to the following sailors who have been selected for the 2015/16 Winter Squads:

National Squad 2015 - 16

Elizabeth Beardsall, Matt Beck, Henry Chandler, Calum Cook, Jamie Cook, Callum Davidson-Guild, Sam De La Feuillade, Oliver Dowson Mcgill, Finley Dickinson, Oliver Evans, James Foster, Barty Gray, Matthew Hardie, William Heathcote, Archie Leckie, Cossie Lewis, Rhys Lewis, Ellen Main, Julia Mellers, Emily Mueller, India Page-Wood, William Pank, Haydn Sewell, Kai Wolgram, Drew Wright

Intermediate Squad 2015 – 16

Cian Ashby, Gordon Cogan Sivarajan, Joshua Davies, Lauren Discombe, Alfie Dowson Mcgill, Chloe Felton, Scott Forbes, Fergus Fox, Drew Gibbons, Tyler Green, Emily Hall, Nicklas Host-Verbraak, Zara Howarth, Sam Kneale, Ella Lance, Phoebe Le Marquand, Harvey Leigh, Freddie Lonsdale, Zachary Lyttle, Benjamin Mueller, Phoebe Roberts, Julia Staite, Ruben Stokroos, Kieran Young

Development Squad 2015 – 16

Jonathan Bailey, Drew Barnes, Katheryn Byne, David Calder, Lewis Coop, Rachael Cross, Sophie Dorrington, Ellie Driver, Charlie Elsby-Hartman, Guy Farmer, Charlotte Lane, Jonny Latham, Ansel Levy Dethmers, Nathan Lumbard, Rufus Martin, Tom Mitchell, Hannah Morris, Oliver Perkins, Charlotte Rockett, Ben Russell, Delfina Sesto Cosby, Sophie Stoate, Oliver Sturley, Catie Warburton

Optimist Worlds in Poland,

By Julia Mellers, GBR 6350, Chichester Yacht Club, South Region.
Coming in off the water after the last day of the Selections and being told that I had qualified for the Worlds Team was an absolutely amazing feeling. What I hadn’t realized was just how much more there was to do before the event!
We had a few training weekends and a team racing weekend with the Europeans team as part of our preparation. Just before the summer holidays the team flew out to compete in the practice event. It was a very tricky weekend of racing on a shifty pond, so we were all very glad to learn that it had been decided that the Worlds would take place on the Baltic, just around the corner, instead.
When we arrived in Poland a week before the Worlds started, the atmosphere was very different from any other event I have been to, with so many international sailors. We arrived in Poland to see 58 country flags flying all around the club, and sailors from all over the globe carefully getting their boats ready days in advance; you could tell that everyone really wanted to do well!
We didn’t have much luck with the wind; most of the racing days were very light, so we spent a lot of our time sitting on the rib – which was pretty frustrating. We had a good breeze on a couple of the days, which everyone was very grateful for. It was often very shifty, which was difficult in such a tough fleet. The thing I found the hardest was the starting, which I definitely improved by the end of the event. Alan was very helpful on the water and Jen kept us laughing off the water. My best day was when the wind picked up a bit more to 15kts – a refreshing break from floating around on a calm sea.  I was thrilled on the last of the qualifying days when I got a 5,1 and a 6! 
Meeting so many sailors from around the world was one of the best parts of the trip, we were able to meet all of the girls there and we’ve kept in touch with each other. All of the teams stayed at the same place, so it was easy for us to meet up after sailing to go to the beach, have a swim in the pool or watch a film.
Congratulations to the whole team: Julia came 35th, 5th girl, Vita Heathcoate 96, Mathew Beck 110, William Hall 123 and Emilia Boyle 161 out of 275 competitors.

Opti Team Cup 2015 in Potsdamer, Berlin

By Cossie Lewis, GBR6351, Bosham, South Region
On the 30th October, Drew Wright, Matt Beck, Julia Mellers and I set off to Berlin for the Opti Team Cup 2015 with our coach Tom Mallindine, who had previously come 3rd at the Optimist World Championships, and house parent Ursula Beck. It was an international team racing championship and there were 16 teams including sailors from countries as far abroad as the US. The competition lasted two days and throughout the competition we had 15 races, competing against each different country.
The event was held at Potsdamer yacht club, which was on a lake south west of Berlin. Each team had four boats and the aim is to finish each race with a lower total point score than the opposition. The courses are much shorter than those of a fleet race, consisting of a beat, reach, broad reach and a run ending with the final beat. The average time is only 15 minutes, therefore races are extremely tense and there is very little room for mistakes. One of the great things about team racing is it develops your understanding of the rules and helps to improve your boat-on-boat tactics.

When we arrived at the club, we found our Winner charter boats and rigged them up in preparation to go sailing, however the wind had dropped to 3 knots, so we decided to have a briefing and explore the area instead. The next morning, we set out at 8 o'clock for a 9am opening ceremony and 10am first start; our spirits were high and we were all eager to get on the water. Before each race we did time and distance to the line and tuning runs, finally we discussed tactics and starting positions. Personally my favourite race was against Denmark as the finishing positions were 1,2,6,8 which wins by 1 point, so the race was extremely tense and we were thrilled at the end. 

On Sunday evening we were not particularly pleased with our finishing position, which was 11th, however we all felt that the competition had been very tough, and all of us came away from the event having had a great experience.

Class Connections

Olympic Medalists 2012 Finn - All former Oppy sailors

Optimist Pathway: from club racing to the Olympics

By Justine Wolgram, Wales and Marci López Levy, Weirwood, South East Region.
An Optimist sailor typically follows a 7-year pathway: starting out as a beginner at a club flotilla age 8, gaining in confidence to run club races. Getting the itch to try out open racing in other clubs and in regional open meetings. In search of bigger start lines and waves, you can then join the circuit of national events, usually with the British Nationals, the three IOCA ranking events or the full seven regattas organized by IOCA (Spring Champs in March, Inlands in May, Nationals in July/August, Late Summer in September, End of Seasons in October and Winter Champs in November). By then, you’ll be eyeing up the RYA Zone Squads that provide a way to train over the winter, as well as other training provided by clubs and regions. As you progress in the ranking, you can join the Development or Intermediate squads, and for the top 25 or so sailors, the National Squad. The top 80 sailors get invited for Selections (in May) where teams are selected to represent Britain at international competitions. You leave the class by age 15 and transition into your next boat.
The next boat can take a sailor back to all the fun of club racing, to any stage of regional and national racing, or as is shown in this fascinating breakdown of the Oppie backgrounds of Olympic sailors at London 2012, all the way to the Olympics. Robert Wilkes has compiled the following data that shows that 83 per cent of medal winners in 2012 had sailed competitively in Optimists first. Rock on in your Oppies and don’t let anyone tell you they are only for beginners!

What do you get from Oppie sailing?

By Iain Calder, father of Jamie Calder, Scotland
As a family we had always sailed so it seemed natural for our son Jamie to learn. We had no intention of getting into the Optimist racing circuit and travelling the length of the country for open meetings. Plus we had heard about the pushy Oppie parents so were very wary about getting involved! We decided to sail an Optimist because it was an easy boat to build ourselves and a very forgiving boat for a youngster to sail on his own.
It wasn’t long before Jamie started to enjoy racing his home-built boat at Loch Tummel Sailing Club and other members encouraged us to take him to an open meeting. We turned up to enter the regatta fleet at a Scottish travellers event to find we were the only home-built boat there. However Jamie won the regatta fleet and the other parents cornered Carol and I and told us we had to take him to the Inland Championships! One kind parent insisted we should take him but not to use his wooden boat that Jamie - could borrow his daughter’s boat as it would be more competitive. We were still hesitant at this stage but were persuaded it was very much fun orientated in the regatta fleet. We duly arrived at Grafham and Jamie’s expression to see so many Optimists was quite something. After that weekend Jamie well and truly got the Optimist bug. Over the next few years the opportunities and experiences Jamie had were quite incredible. He has made friends not only throughout the UK from the RYA squad system but also abroad. He was lucky enough to be part of the Worlds Team in both New Zealand and Dominican Republic as well as several team events throughout Europe and in Singapore.
Jamie transitioned out of the Optimist at 13 as he was at that stage too big for the boat and has gone on to sail Laser 4.7s and currently the Laser Radial. He won the UK Youth Nationals in the Radial in 2014 and the Laser Radial Youth European Championships in 2015. There is no doubt his success is testimony to the grounding he had in the Optimist class.

If Jamie was to stop sailing now what he has gained from the Optimist is still invaluable. The life skills in terms of getting on with other youngsters of varying ages and back grounds plus adults in the form of coaches and house parents. The independence gained from being out miles offshore and making his own decisions, learning to deal with disappointments as well as success and making friends.
Getting back to our initial concerns about the pushy Oppie parents I have to say not only has Jamie made lifelong friends through the class but so have Carol and I. Living in Scotland and trying to do the Optimist circuit is a huge commitment and the help and generosity of Oppie parents over the years has been amazing. People have moved Jamie’s boat around, put us up either in their homes or in motorhomes and helped in any way they can. This speaks volumes about the nature of the class. Of course we have all heard about the huge percentage of Olympic sailors that started their sailing in Optimists which says a lot about the class but for us as a family the life skills Jamie has gained and the friends we have made is what is most rewarding.
If any current Oppie sailors would like to follow Jamie’s sailing you can catch up with his blog here.

From club to RYA Zone Squad

by Santiago Sesto Cosby (Oppie age 10) GBR 6051, Lymington, South Zone.
The Zone Squads is a seven-weekends of training in the Winter at different venues. It is organised by the RYA and it is split in different zones around the country. We belong to the South, which everybody says is very high standard and not that easy to get into. 
The main idea is to target youngsters like myself to start real racing!
Some of my friends from Bronze Fleet were a bit scared about the Zone Squads and I think I was a bit too as it felt such a big step from Salterns. At Salterns it had been really fun training with Rory, Adrian and Ben and now some of us wanted to have a go on the river and beyond.
We didn’t know a lot about other events outside Lymington and we didn't have a trailer either! But because we had many friends who wanted to do it, all the families helped each other so we could all do it. My mum won a race and bought a trailer and we set off to all three selective events which are: Burghfield , Poole or Weymouth (which is normally the Zone Championships) and one day at Spinnaker Lake. 
The first time I ever went to one of the regattas I tried main fleet, but then I moved back to Regatta Fleet as I didn't even get how the courses worked or understood how the flights worked! I was confused and always sailing the wrong course! It was harder than I thought from watching my sister Delfi. In the next event in Poole, where I was in Regatta Fleet from the start, I even capsized while kiting the boat too far! It was good to do Regatta Fleet first so I could see what it was all about.
My sister then got a letter inviting her to join the squad. She was very proud and surprised as she thought she wasn't going to make it. My mummy was worried that Delfi was going to be too cold sailing in the winter and that she was going to hate it, but instead Delfi loved it. She made it into the squads with some of my friends, made more friends and told me how amazing and fun it was.
I couldn't wait till the next year to see if I could make it and experience it myself! I practiced lots, as Delfi went to all the ranking events. We camped and shared with friends, played rugby, football, made fires and cooked marshmellows till late! So when the next selection came I was quite a bit better, but it was still challenging and it wasn't until the last event at Spinnaker that I could prove I was ready. And they chose me!
I was very excited but I also find it hard in the winter. I only weighed 20kgs and I used to get very cold and worried when it was too windy. Not because I was scared of capsizing but because every time I capsized I used to get freezing cold, even with a drysuit, and then I used to cry every time. The coaches were very nice and encouraging, specially Anna, who always looked after me. I learnt so much more about sailing. I made loads of friends from other clubs and the best part of all was sharing houses with my friends and playing - it was like being in lots of sleepovers!
This year many of my Lymington firiends and my sister have moved up into the next level and have made it into the National, Intermediate and Development squads. I will miss them, although I will train with them in Lymington as we have our coach Vagelis, who is really cool and comes from Greece to coach us in our club.
Thank you to my mum Valeria, to my dad Clive, to my friends' dads Joff and George, and to all the coaches and the club for making Oppie sailing so fun!

Today was the best day ever!

By Charlotte Allen aged 9, Main Fleet Optimist, winner of under-10 trophy.
It was my first time sailing
With incredible bailing
We were calm and brave
With more than 8 foot waves
I was cold and freezing
With the North Winds heaving
But when I got in the shower
It lasted more than half an hour
That’s Pwhelli’s sailing
Cold and wet and raining
So if you’re going to sail
Make sure you’re ready to Bail!
Written during the Nationals, Pwllheli 2015

Parents in Action

Volunteering: an event in numbers

By Judy Warburton, IOCA Committee member, mother of a sailor in Main Fleet, Scotland
As I'm involved in organising the Nationals up in Largs next year, I decided to spend the End of Seasons in the Race office, hoping that it would give me a better idea of what is involved in running an event. With the race office sharing space with the Bridge, it was a busy place, with lots of different people in and out all day. It was a very hectic weekend, but it was also good fun, and a great way to find out who does what.  The biggest eye opener for me, however, was the sheer number of people, of volunteers, it takes to organise even a weekend event, so I asked for a list thinking it would be useful to share that information.
So, every event has an event coordinator, someone who is responsible for pulling everything together, the venue, the equipment, making sure that all the key roles are filled and that everything falls into place both on the water and off. They are very much helped by the IOCA administrator John, who brings the travelling show that is an IOCA event to town, and finds answers to the questions that no one else knows the answers to.
But what about everyone else?  Well each day there were:
On the Water:
Main Fleet Committee Boat - Race officer and assistant plus 4 others
Pin End/Finish boat – 4 people
On water Measurer
2 Jurors
Regatta/Transition Fleet Committee – Race officer and Assistant RO plus 4 others
On water medic main fleet
On water medic transition/regatta fleet
Safety Fleet:  all safety Boats have at least 2 people of them
Safety control 
Safety lead for each start 2
Main fleet safety boats 11
Main fleet official support 5
Regatta Fleet lead
Transition fleet lead
Regatta/Transition Safety boats 4
On Shore:
Beach master
Regatta/transition fleet beach master
Bridge  2
Race office John plus 1
Results team 2
On shore medic
Main fleet tallies 2
Regatta/transition fleet tallies 2
Launch and recovery assistants 6
Registration 5
Measurers at registration 2
Inflate and deflate marks 2
With apologies to anyone I have not included, I make that about 97 roles. Most of them were filled by the same person on both days, although a few split the role Saturday/Sunday. So there were well over 100 individuals involved in volunteering to make one event work. 
On top of this there is a whole host of people involved in the background, making sure events are planned, finances are managed, equipment is maintained and got to where it is needed, training and teams are organised, the website is updated, the class is developed around the country, the class is marketed and can take advantage of sponsorship, measurers are trained, and we are kept up to date with and involved in technical decisions about the class.
Many of these roles don’t need any particular expertise or experience, and training can be organised for any that do! IOCA is made up of the parents of sailors and depends on us to function, so come along and get involved!

FOR SALE is back!

Did you miss the FOR SALE section on the IOCA website? Well, it’s back. One of the members has kindly developed a replacement for the For Sale facility that was no longer maintained. The For Sale section has always been very useful for used boats, sails, foils, spars, clothing such as drysuits and hikers, trailers and even RIBs changing hands from member to member. As before it is also possible to place WANTED notices. The 'About' section explains how it works, but it is really easy to use. You will find the For Sale section on the IOCA website where it was before under the 'Members' tab. It also has a separate web address if you find that easier:

Technical Update

By Victor Brellisford, Technical Officer on IOCA committee (joined at 2015 AGM).  Royal Corinthian YC (Burnham), East Zone. Father of two sailors, Florence (moving to Senior Main Fleet next season) and Felicity (moving to Junior Main Fleet next season).
Keeping a boat’s measurement documents up to date and understanding the process is part of an Optimist sailor’s education.  Sailors should be given control of their measurement documents as far as possible and learn to deal with the Measurers themselves.  The experience gained will ensure that Optimist sailors will be far ahead of the game when they move on to sail other classes.
New Technical FAQ Page
A revised Technical FAQ page is now up and running – please see this link on the IOCA website
If you can think of any FAQs that are missing – or indeed there is any other technical question you’d like to know the answer to, please get in touch.
More Measurers recruited!
During 2015 IOCA has added 12 new Measurers to the list, so you should notice an improvement in Measurer availability around the country.  The only Measurers qualified to certify Optimists can be found on the RYA website
If you’d like to become a Measurer, please contact me.
Please remember that our Measurers are there to help you comply with the Class Rules.  Don’t hesitate to ask, even if your question seems very basic.  As they say, “there is no such thing as a stupid question”! 
You can contact a Measurer using the RYA list (see above) or you can find them at Registration at events or in the dinghy park before launching.

Do you want to get involved Gill Kit Trials?

Email what you would like to test and why to
Deadline for copy for the next newsletter is January 17 2016. We are specially keen to hear your stories if you have been doing winter training in your club - what have your learnt? For tips and tricks tell us how you keep warm, with photos. We look forward to your stories, photos, or ideas for an article so write to us.

IOCA Committee 2015/16

Jay Williamson - Bowmoor - South West
Mark Lyttle - Bowmoor - South East/West
Vice Chair
Richard Baker - Weir Wood - South East
Andrew Taylor - Blackwater - South East
Andy Felton - Staunton H - Midlands
Sailing Sec

Jenny Lance - HISC - South East

Magdalena Ietswaart - Loch Venachar - Scotland
Catriona Green - HISC - South East
Victor Brellisford - Corinthian - East
Judy Warburton - Loch Venacher - Scotland
Rob Thomas - Burghfield - South
Christine Spreiter - Nairn/Lymington - South
Chris Evans - Gunard - South

With thanks to all our sponsors and partners for their continued support:

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