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

Issue 10: January 2015

From The Committee

Chairman's Update

Happy New Year to all our members !  Many of you will be taking a well earned rest from sailing during the bleakest winter months, while some of you are involved in open training and squads around the country. As I mentioned in November, most of the open training is on our website www.optimistsailing.org.uk.  Of course some of you also attended the Winter Championships in Cardiff, in fact 131 of you! Many thanks to Cardiff Bay Yacht Club for running a very professional event. The wind gods were not kind and it rounded off a light wind year for many of our IOCA events.

The IOCA committee is looking forward to 2015 and I wanted to give you an idea of our plans. The survey feedback from members attending recent IOCA events has been very positive about the overall satisfaction levels and this is made possible by the enormous efforts of our volunteers.

The committee discussed setting up a sub-committee to review our approach to volunteers so if any of you would like to be involved, please let me know. We also working on approaches to make the events less intensive for volunteer organisers.  We have already developed more transparent policies on RIBs and Coaching at Events and we would like to ensure more of our polices are transparent to members.

The IOCA committee would also like more events further north and there are a number of spaces in the calendar in 2015/2016 where we would like to get firm proposals from members for a venue where they would be prepared to act as Event co-ordinators or at least work alongside an experienced Event co-ordinator. In addition, IOCA is keen to support more  IOCA-endorsed events, like the Grafham Easter Egg. Let us know your thoughts.

Local flotillas remain at the core of Optimist sailing in the UK and we are keen to support them in whatever ways we can. I hope to write to flotilla leaders shortly to get their views.

Finally the IOCA committee has decided to form a sub-committee to assess the replacement of our current front end website. Anyone who would like to be involved is asked to contact admin@optimist.org.uk

As ever your committee is keen to get feedback on how we can represent better, all sailors in the class, whether they sail in local flotillas, at our events, in squads or on teams. Feel free to email me

Mark Lyttle
IOCA (UK) Chairman


Whistles should be on short lanyards and/or stored in the buoyancy aid pocket.
HUGE Congratulations to Vita Heathcote who has won the 2015 Yachts and Yachting Young Sailor of the Year award! 

Full details here.
Membership Matters
Please renew your membership for 2015 as soon as possible.

Dates for Your Diary

Buttons below take you straight to the event website (opens new window)
2015 RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show
RYA Dinghy Show
IOCA (UK) will have a stand at the show again this year. If you are available to help on the stand for a couple of hours on either day, please sign up HERE 

Volunteers receive free entry to the show.
Spring Championships...... 28/29 Mar 2015
Entry for the 2015 Spring Championships will open on Wednesday, 28th January 2015.

The event is for Main Fleet only and there is a maximum entry of 140.

Please note: In order to enter the event GBR sailors must be current (2015) members of IOCA.  The membership process requires a manual update and may take 24 hours to complete. Renew Membership HERE

For further detail please visit the event webpage.
IOCA / Grafham Easter Egg .... 3/4 Apr 2015 ... ENTER HERE

The Grafham Easter Egg

For the first time in many years we have a brand new event.   It is intended to be a FUN event but with the usual high standard of race management.

Sweets, treats and an Easter Egg Hunt
Main and Regatta Fleets

For more details or, if you have some fun ideas email EasterEgg@optimist.org.uk

GBR Team Selection Trials 01 - 04 May 2015
Inland Championships ..... 16/17 May 2015
2015 Optimist European Championships .....
The 2015 Optimist Europeans Subcommittee is in full swing with event preparations.  However, they are in urgent need of additional volunteers to help with tasks either before or during the event.  

If you would like to be involved please contact David Baddeley 2015 Euros Chairman as soon as possible.
National Championships ..... 25 - 31 Jul 2015

Volunteering De-mystified: The Mark Layer

by Stuart Childerley

“Marks 1” to “Race control”... mark 1 laid 0.55nm 235degrees – wind 235 degrees 10knots... Over.

These words are often the final ingredients for the starting sequence to continue and the race begins. To get to this point isn’t difficult and the only requirements are good boat handling and a “keep things simple” approach; not too dissimilar to sailing then!

The first practical task of the mark layers' day, having read the SIs, is ensuring roles are split to allow smooth uninterrupted operation of the boat. My own preference is to have the boat driver focused on boat handling and GPS work, whilst the crew deal with the mark, ground tackle and VHF communications. Keep all personal bags and items forward in the boat and make room aft for the marks and ground tackle to be deployed readily without delay. Having a short leash (approx. 2m long) with a quick release clip attached to the boats’ strong point and each mark will aid efficient deployment. The ground tackle should be equal in length and you should also be aware of the depth and anticipated current for the race area. Having an idea of the weather forecast helps, although the focus on the actual wind experienced on the course is far more important to provide great courses for the sailors.

Once you have arrived on the course area take a GPS position for the main committee boat or alternatively 50m above the estimated mid start line point. Having a note pad and pencil to scribble notes is always useful. Next you need to agree what the wind is doing and identify any influences caused by local geographical features or current. A simple method of recording the wind direction and strength using your hand bearing compass, wind indicator and anemometer will soon align your data to the race officer. The course length will be determined by the wind strength and course selection and then you head upwind on an agreed bearing. Once you have arrived at the anticipated place for mark 1 you can continue to monitor wind direction, strength and relay any observations relating to shift patterns and current. At this stage in proceedings your feedback to the race team makes the difference between a good course or not.

In the final few minutes before laying the mark, usually just before the preparatory signal, it is best to have the mark wet. This means having it in the water being towed behind your boat by its anchor. Whilst motoring at a constant speed near to tick over/idle you circle the intended drop area. This method provides clear visibility for the sailors of the intended position but also it gives you the most flexibility to adopt any changes in the wind conditions.

Once the race is underway there will be few opportunities to move marks. However, your feedback on the split of the fleet over the 1st, and subsequent, windward legs will contribute to positive improvements of the racing through the day. The time and sail numbers of the first few boats around your mark is useful for the race team (and parents listening to VHF in the warmth of the clubhouse). Look out for boats hitting the mark and scribble down the details before reporting incidents to the race officer who will decide upon next actions.

You can’t go wrong by keeping it simple with good boat handling, clear communications and good observations. It is a great place to view the racing and very rewarding. Of course there is plenty more to learn as you begin to do more – C Flags, M Flags, W Flags, S Flags, Change Marks, Mark Rounding Sheets!

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a mark layer/wish to shadow a mark layer at future events, please register your interest with IOCA's Sailing Secretary.

News & Reviews

Optimist Team Racing World Championships
I Love Team Racing
By Chris Atkins - team racing since 1969

I love …. lots of fast action, the legs are so short, and so many short races.  Lots of tacking and gybing.  Lots of overtaking (and being overtaken).  Races are not decided until the finishing line, so I never give up!

I love …. that there’s no wasted time.  No general recalls.  No messing with sail-ties.  We just go on the water and race.  It’s 3,2,1,Start.  Then finish.  Then onto the next race.  Win some, lose some, that’s fun sailing for me.

I love …. sailing with team-mates.  We know the result at the finish.  There’s a big team cheer when we win, and we encourage each other if we lose.  And we win half the races – but so does everyone else.

I love …. umpired racing.  Sailors have to observe the rules, or else the umpire penalises them.  So it’s fairer and more fun, and there’s no having to put in protests and then hanging around for the hearing.  And I’m learning the rules – they’re fun too.

* * * * * * * * *
Yes team racing is designed to be fun, help you improve your tacking and gybing skills, and help you understand how you can use the rules to overtake or control an opponent.

It also teaches you how to think strategy and tactics, and how to cope with things that suddenly change.  In one week-end of team racing you will experience more incidents and manoeuvres than in a month of fleet racing … and you’ll be more likely to win those big fleet races as a result.

And it helps you become part of a team, which is always more fun than sailing alone.  You help your team-mates in one race and they help you in the next.  You help them sail faster; they help you sail faster.

* * * * * * * * *

In Random Pairs you sail with a different team-mate every race.  So your opponent in one race may be your team-mate in the next.  The team with the boat in last place loses the race.  So you quickly have to work out how best to help each other, because you are only together for that one race.  In 6 minutes it will all be over, your team has either won or lost … and next race you’ll have a different team-mate.

Whereas in 4-boat you sail with the same other three sailors for the whole competition, but the tactics are more complex.  Less than 18 points wins the race, and if both teams have 18 points it is the team with first place that loses.  In particular 3,4,5,6 wins.  The team that is losing is always trying to bunch the fleet and establish a 3,4,5,6.  Unless the winning team has established a clear 1,2,3, the race stays alive until the final seconds of the final beat.  Never give up!

Chris Atkins is a team racing sailor, coach and umpire and was the chief umpire at the ISAF Team Racing World Championship in 2003 and 2005.  He is the author of 'Team Racing Companion' which can be purchased HERE: (Royalties go to the World Youth Sailing Trust)
RYA Zone Championships: East Zone
by Charlie Bacon
During the last weekend in September, I went down to Mersea Island in Essex to take part in the East Zone Championships.  It's where they held the Spring Champs a few years ago and it snowed - remember that?

This year the weather was really nice and sunny but the wind was a bit shifty and light.  We went out on the Saturday but when we got to the race course there was no wind.  So we all turned back and drifted home!
On Sunday, we did three races which were really fun.  The wind was again light force 2 and the tide was strong but we managed three shortened courses.

Saskia Clark came down to Dabchicks to support us which was really cool. 

This is the first competition I have ever won and it was a good feeling.  Thank you to Dabchicks SC for the event and the RYA for organising it all.
Optimist Winter Championships

On the 22nd and 23rd November 2014, Cardiff Bay YC hosted the Optimist Winter Championships with 123 sailors competing in 8 races in tricky, shifty conditions during this two-day regatta.  Congratulations to Will Hall, the Optimist Winter Champion.
Sailor Profile - Silver Fleet Winner 2014
Gordon Cogan-Sivarajan learnt to sail in a Pico at the age of 6 at Elie Watersports Centre in Scotland, and in 2012 at the age of 10, he started racing Optimists.  The same year he came first at the Volvo Scottish Club Championships, winning his first of many Scottish trophies.  In 2013, he joined the Scottish Development Squad and in November 2014 he won a British National trophy as the winner of the Silver Fleet at the Optimist Winter Championships.  IOCA caught up with Gordon to find out more about his interests and his career in Optimists so far:
Name:  Gordon Cogan Sivarajan
Age:   12 years old
Sail Number: GBR 5896
Home Sailing Club:  Clyde Cruising Club at Bardowie
Club Team / RYA Squad:  Scottish Development Squad
Started sailing Oppies:  When I was 10 and could already sail, I started racing Oppies at Clyde Cruising Club.
Most memorable race: At the End of Seasons Championships in 2013, racing in light winds, I went a different way from the rest of the fleet and I came 8th in one of the races.  It felt fantastic!
Favourite thing about sailing Oppies:  The Oppie is a great little boat for my size and I love the fact that it is such a technical boat and with such a large skilled National fleet it keeps you on your toes with lots to learn and master.
Best day out sailing:  At the last Scottish squad training weekend in Cumbrae, it was really windy, gusting around 30 knots and it was a really fun day surfing the big waves.  The conditions were really difficult but also really exciting.
Worst day out sailing / most embarrassing moment:   At the Nationals in Weymouth in 2014, on the last day of the qualifying series, I capsized going down wind when a gust hit me and my bailers fell out of the boat and were lost into the sea.  I couldn't bail the water out of my boat and so disappointingly, that was the end of the race for me.
Favourite place to sail:  I like both Cumbrae and Largs because the sailing area gives a variety of conditions depending on the weather, the tides and the wind direction.  It can get really windy and the island creates lots of wind shifts and so the varied conditions can test a whole range of sailing skills.  I know these waters really well and love sailing there.
Favourite on-the-water snack:  Kellogg's Strawberry Nutrigrain bar, Bagels & Houmous
Favourite off-the-water snack: Mum's homemade pasta and tomato sauce
My Hero: I met Luke Patience, the Scottish Olympic sailor at the Zone Championships in 2012 and he let me try on his silver Olympic medal which was really heavy.  I found him to be a really friendly and nice person and very inspiring because of his achievements in sailing.
Sailing Dream:  I dream of one day going to the Olympics and winning an Olympic Sailing Medal.
Oppie Tips & Tricks which you want to pass on: Don't always follow someone in a race who you think is really good because they may get it wrong.  Instead, you should have the confidence to make your own plan and strategy and to follow it.

Class Connections

Moving On - RS Fevas
by Freya Black
I started sailing at the age of 8 and it was a natural thing to do as both my older sisters sailed. Having done reasonably well in Optimists I had won a couple of prizes most notably winning the Eric Twiname Champs in 2012. I have been a member of the SE Zone Squad, the Junior Irish National Championship Team as well as competing at Lake Garda and Palamos in 2013 & 2014.

I felt that with light winds at many of the major events I needed something faster and possibly wanted to try a two handed boat. My sister had been sailing an RS Feva and was moving into 420’s so I started practicing with her to get a feel of sailing a double hander.

We did a couple of events together including the RS Feva Worlds in Italy (although that was immediately after the French Optimists Nationals in Crozon Morgat near Brest & immediately before the British Nationals in Largs which involved an epic round Europe trip in our Motorhome! – thanks Mum & Dad)

It was clear, despite Dad’s best intentions, that Issy & I were unlikely to make a successful pairing (she says I’m too bossy & I feel the same about her!) and so I paired up with Hatty Cage who I’ve been friends with since starting sailing. Hatty had also sailed Optimists. Given that we hadn’t sailed together long & our experience in double handed boats very limited we started our campaign poorly with a disaster at the Inlands at Rutland. Lots of capsizing, swimming and being very cold. Dad & Hatty’s dad were always nearby in the Rib laughing it seemed!

We then did a bit of training and started to get a handle on hoisting the spinnaker downwind quickly, improving our angles and working together during our tacks & gybes.
We decided to apply for selection for the RYA Junior National Squad. We had to do a round of qualifying events and did reasonably well which meant we were 8th overall & 1st All Girl team. Success! We were invited to join the RS Feva NJS! We’ve had our first training weekends with the legendary Dave Hivey (aka Dino Dave) which consisted of a lot of fitness training & tests but also some great on the water practice and boat handling improvements. We self-train whenever we can at HISC and often find ourselves racing against other Feva’s down there.  We have a great bunch of sailing friends (competitors on the water of course) and we are very much still learning but having great fun. We have recently been selected to be part of the VR Race Team which we are so happy about (because it’s really cool).

At my last ever Optimist event, The British Nationals at Weymouth last year, I was awarded The Spirit of the Class award. This was a great honour & completely unexpected. A lot of people apparently voted for me and Kim Hill when awarding the prize said that I epitomised everything good about the class and was always smiling & kind which made me blush bright red! This is the best award I have ever received and possibly the nicest I will ever receive. Thank you to everyone in the Class who made the start of my sailing career so brilliant.

We have a full year of training & competitions ahead of us & will be competing in the RS Feva Europeans at Lake Garda in May and then the Worlds at Travelmunde, Germany in July as part of their Regatta Week – epic! Hope to see lots of my old oppie friends in Feva’s at some point.

Clubs & Flotillas

Festive Fun
North Wales Christmas Regatta at Port Dinorwic SC
By Tasmyn Green

My name is Tasmyn Green.  I am 9 years old and I am in the second year of the North Wales Regional squad.  On the 20th Dec, me and my brother went to Port Dinorwic / Y Felinhelli
for the Christmas Regatta.  The forecast was not looking good - 20 Knts gusting to 30 Knts.  Even though I like a good blast, I was a bit worried!  However, when we arrived it was much less windy as PD can be quite sheltered at times.
There was a main and a regatta Oppy fleet as well as Toppers and General Handicap.  In the Regatta Oppy fleet sailed Arwen Jones, Jack Bailey and Leah Murphy and in the main Oppy fleet there was me, Tyler Green and Ciaron Jones.  We all wore Christmas themed hats.  I was a Christmas pudding and Tyler a penguin!  We also had 2 funny looking Christmas Fairies in tu-tus.....ex-Oppy sailors Hatty Morsley and Iago Davies in the 420.
The sailing was great fun, starting off quite windy then dying down during the day.  We had a lovely hot lunch of sausages, peas/beans and mash potato.  For pudding we had chocolate cake with custard and a hot chocolate from the galley made by Toby Morsley. Yumm!

Then it was prize-giving.  Ist in Regatta fleet was Leah, 2nd was Arwen and 3rd was Jack.  1st in main fleet was Ciaron,
2nd was Tyler and I was 3rd.  We all got goody bags.  After prize-giving, Santa came with presents for us!  The present was a chocolate selection box.  It was really tasty!  I had a brilliant time.  Shame there weren't more sailors.  Maybe they were frightened off by the wind but I can thoroughly recommend it for next year!
Winter Open Training
Midlands Optimist Team
by Paula Irish
The first of this season's winter training days for the Midland Optimist Team (MOT) took place at Hollowell SC, with a dozen sailors making the most of some challenging conditions to improve their skills.

A breezy day saw a focus on hiking positions and dealing with gusts, and with MOT's top-end sailors having commitments elsewhere, it was a chance for the group below to shine and demonstrate the progress they have made over the year.

The training day at Hollowell, on Saturday 18 October, was the first of six scheduled by the MOT to take place across the region during the winter months, with the programme led for the second year running by top Optimist coach James Murdock.

MOT secretary Zoe Felton said: 'Many who trained with MOT last winter went on to have a tremendously successful season and were really looking forward to returning this year, so they had a great day at Hollowell.  New MOT sailors are also always welcome so if anyone would like to come along we'd love to hear from them.'
December Training
by Chloe Felton

December's MOT training was at Barnt Green Sailing Club with 13 sailors of all ability levels. It was good to meet up with friends, old and new. It was cold and at times there was not a lot of wind - especially towards the end of the day. We all sailed together, with James and Karen coaching. For most of the day we focused on tacking and gybing, which was good and I really enjoyed tacking with my eyes shut. As it was cold, we split the day into three giving the younger sailors time to warm back up. Overall the day was amazing and I can't wait for the next MOT.

The next MOT winter training day will be in February and there's a further day in March.  The cost of each day is £20 per sailor.
Holyhead Optimist Open
Over the past two summer seasons, James Marsden, Holyhead SC's Youth Development Officer, has organised weekly Optimist and Topper training for the junior members of Holyhead SC and a dedicated fleet of Optimist sailors has been steadily emerging and growing at this club.  Many of the club's young members have progressed to join the North Wales Optimist Regional Squad this winter with almost half of this squad's participants now coming from HSC.  The excellent work in youth development undertaken by James and his team of volunteers culiminated over the festive period in the club's first Optimist Open Meeting.  Harri Burns, age 10, member of HSC and the RYA North Wales Optimist Squad reports:
On the 3rd January 2015, Holyhead SC held an Optimist Open regatta.  We were very lucky with the weather with winds of 15-20 knots all day and luckily no rain, but of course the weather is always perfect for sailing in Holyhead.

We had 15 boats on the water with 6 safety boats and loads of volunteers who were very good and kind, we were also lucky to have David Batty as the race judge.  There were 4 races with Ciaron Jones winning 3 of them and Kai Wolgram winning 1 and the winner of the gold was Ciaron, the silver winner was Matthew Ingram and the winner of the bronze was Grace Pank.  I really enjoyed the regatta thanks to James Marsden and the team of volunteers and the sponsors Turbine Transfers.

Globe Trotting

A Trip to Oz
by Oliver Hill
We arrived a week early in Perth; my Mum, Dad and me with Bruce our friendly shark mascot.  As we stepped out of the airport we were greeted by clear blue skies and a warm breeze of 32 degrees centigrade.

The time difference in Western Australia is 8 hours ahead of GMT so our plan was to relax and take in some of the sights and tastes on offer to allow our body clocks to acclimatize. Little did I know that the emphasis would be on tasting in the many wineries in the Margaret River region a couple of  hours south, I was only tasting the water of course.
On Thursday 1st January 2015 we made our way towards Fremantle Sailing Club, located in Success Harbour, a venue made famous sailing for the Royal Perth Yacht Club’s unsuccessful defence of the Americas Cup.

The ‘Australian Optimist Open and National Championships’ is part of the ‘Summer of Sail’ so the dinghy park was full of  Opti (that’s what they call them in Oz), 420, Laser and 49er sailors based in the boatyard close by.
We met up with Arthur Fry, who had spent Christmas in Tasmania with his family and our coach Pieter who had been touring the north west coast. We picked up our charter boats and waited upon the Fremantle Doctor (the local daily wind average 20knts) and launched to train for three days.
Massive chop and gigantic gusts meant for difficult sailing  and took us a long time to get used to the conditions happily though by the time the event started we had our boat speed and technique sorted.

The event started with a surprisingly relaxed opening ceremony and a really really shifty day. It seemed the doctor was on strike and that resulted in a early evening of 3 o’clock completing two races , little did we know that this would be the longest day of racing! The first racing day ended with a relaxing barbie with Bruce at the Fry’s.

Day two dawned with a fresh south easterly breeze blowing in from the Southern Ocean, some waves had developed overnight and the racing was underway fairly quickly as with the day before Arthur and I achieved some fair results leading us to feel more confident.

Day three - There was conversation among the race management about whether to hold our rest day on the third or fourth day, the reason for any change would be to avoid strong winds… However they decided against changing the plans and we sailed on the third. We had a good day with all of our results in the top ten (except for my traditional black flag). Pieter was so impressed with our perfect decisions that there was no need for a de-brief. (He must have been in the sun too much and it had made him ill!) Later that evening we were invited out on a 62 foot 1936 classic yacht to cruise. This did originally sound like fun but involved me getting soaking wet from being what is essentially the bowman.
Day five was the first day of Championship racing after three days of qualifying Arthur and I had both made it comfortably into the gold fleet. I started off with a 16th and Arthur with a 4th. The next step was to repeat these results which we did achieving steady consistent scores. We finished the day at 1:45 which left plenty of time for us to go out on to the Swan River on a  hire boat.

The last day of racing was a good one for the team, a frustrating first race of a 2nd to  a 7th due to unstable winds. The second race was a 16th coming from a 38th which helped me to retain a decent discard in the second series, we were starting to play the races steadly and, with the same patterns in every race Sailors became unaware of any changes to the wind (such as a 30 degree right shift 5 minutes before the start) this lead to and impossible but apparently unnoticeable to the rest of the fleet starboard bias. Luckily I was happy to take advantage of this shift and started at the starboard end leading to a lead of about 500 metres. I kept on this positive shift and made my way out to the left praying for a left shift. People that had ducked me were now in the lead. I rounded the mark in 11th. Up the second I lost 9 places due to flukey conditions and a lot of luck on their part. I finished 20th and Arthur 21st.

We towed in and let the festivities begin. Romë  Featherstone (Fremantle YC)had won comfortably and was unsurprisingly happy. The event was amazing and the friends I made I will remember for a lifetime. The sailors were second to none in how friendly and welcoming they were. Trip of a lifetime.
Euromed 2014, Malta
by Sophie Holloway
Sailing in 20 degrees in December is a luxury that I will never forget. Waking up to clear blue skies and a warm, beaming sun gave everyone the energy to go out and race their hardest.

After days of training in the crystal blue waters of Mellieha Bay, the event began, hosted by the Malta Young Sailors Club. Because there was no clubhouse, the local cafe made a great base for all of the sailors, handing out free food and drink at the end of the day, from pasta to burgers, every sailor's dream! The local resort, the Seabank Hotel was only 300m away from the sailing venue, with views looking out onto the sailing area.

With teams from Italy, Russia, Spain, Romania, Ireland, Greece, Malta and of course GBR, the standard of racing is incredibly high with a range of sailing conditions from light and sloppy waves from out to sea to flat and windy conditions from the mainland. Having the girls' European Champion taking part in the event made everyone want to work that bit harder to see how they compared? With only one race on the first day, racing was tight with Spain's Arnau Gelpi taking the bullet before myself in second and an Italian in third. Matt Beck had a solid 4th and Harris Cartwright came a creditable 10th. Day 2 brought a little bit more wind, however from a different direction, 3 races were sailed. Due to conditions results varied throughout the day, with the order on the leaderboard constantly changing. Day 3 answered my prayers with a constant 20 knots and flat water. 4 races were sailed on day 3 which meant that after the one race on the following day, 2 discards would be available. At this point having a consistent day was critical, luckily for the majority of the GBR sailors this was the case. Harris started and finished with a bang, a 6th and a 4th to finish off his event as he had to catch a plane the next day. Matt finished off his event well with a 6th and a 13th and Ollie Hill scored a bullet and a 3rd in the final two races of the day! Despite an OCS Drew Wright had two top tens and I scored my first ever international bullet in race 2, followed by another one in race 4! Day 4 brought light, sloppy conditions. With points close at the top and a second discard available after the race, pressure was piling up on the top 10, as anyone could have been on the podium. The race finished with a Maltese girl taking the bullet, followed by her sister and one of Vagelis' Greek sailors! I took 4th, to finish off Euromed with a bang, taking 3rd overall and 1st girl, one point ahead of Maltese sailor Victoria, a good friend of mine.   

Overall the GBR sailors had a fantastic event with 3 sailors in the top 15 and 4 inside the top 25. Euromed is a fantastic event, helping you escape British December weather with great quality racing surrounded by friendly people!
A Spanish Exchange
by Alexandra Schonrock
We set off for London Gatwick on the morning of the 19th of December. After a long drive to Gatwick Adele, Adele's dad and I arrived, walking into the airport with our rather large and heavy sail tube. Adele and I checked in, then made our way to security. At this point we left Adele's dad and there the journey began.

At the first stage we had already come across a problem. I had too many fluids in my hand luggage, toothpaste and a ton of contact lenses. So the toothpaste went straight into the bin. We made our way through the airport very well and were on time surprisingly enough

We landed in Gran Canaria at around 4pm. We had no hassle getting out of the airport where we met 2 out of 4 of the Spanish family we were staying with. Maria (the mum) and Javi, (the 9 year old brother of  our exchange partner.) We took the sail tube and we made our way to our first stop which was the sailing club. We arrived at the sailing club around 15 minutes later and were greeted by Edu , some of his sailing team and his coach. We dropped the sail tube off and went for a tour of the club.

Their club, Real Club Nautico De Gran Canaria, is huge. We never thought we would work our way around it. As well as a huge boat park and marina they had: a gym, training rooms, boat repair garage, a swimming pool, a room for prize giving, large restaurant, café, multi sports court, squash court, a recreational room where there was table tennis tables, a football table and PlayStation’s and a Xbox Kinect! The club did have more rooms but they were for staff really. It does make the club more social because there are so many things to do after sailing. That day we also met Carlos (one of Maria’s brothers) he was very easy to talk to and very good at English (like we found everyone to be!) That night we met Edu’s father who is also called Eduardo.  Them both having the same name led to quite a lot of confusion

The next day, Saurday, we went to the sailing club at around 10am. We got our boats from the club for free. They were two Winners that had only been used around 3 or 4 times! We sorted out our boats so they were ready to sail, we rigged our boats then at about 11am we went out on the water to do some training! The training in Gran Canaria is really nice and relaxed because they go out on the water at around 11am then do about 3 hours and then come in at 2pm! We trained for four days with the clubs Optimists. Three of the days we did small races, focusing on starts and the fourth day we joined with another group and did a small regatta (although we only did 2 races). That day was windy unlike the other days which were light. The waves were huge, if you were at the bottom of one you wouldn’t be able to see a boat who was on the bottom of the next wave, it was so much fun sailing on those waves.  However, one downside was that you couldn't see where the windward mark was and led to half the fleet going to the reach mark by accident!

During those few days we met a lot more of Maria’s family. We met Maria’s parents who were even better at English and really kind. We met the rest of Carlos’ family which consisted of a wife and three sons. Whilst we were there in the briefings and debriefs a boy called Mathias translated everything for us, he was amazing at English and Adele quoted that he was a real gentleman.  We met lots of really nice people  who almost all spoke English and helped us learn some Spanish

Christmas Eve came, we rested for most of the day then at about 8pm the family, including Carlos and his children and wife went to church. The service was short but Adele and I had no idea what was going on because it was all in Spanish!   After the service we went back to Carlos’ house for a meal, where the grandparents also turned up. At around midnight we returned back to Maria’s apartment and Santa had arrived! Javi was really excited and they opened the presents straight away. To our surprise Maria had got Adele and I a present. It was a fleece with GBR and our sail numbers on.

On the first day of the competition we launched around 11am, which is really relaxed compared to British times! We got three fair races in; the first race was solid and so was the second but in the last race I got a black flag which was not going to help my result, especially as we only had one discard.

The following day we got to the club at the same time but today it was postponed for about an hour due to no wind. At about twelve or half twelve we launched. We waited for ages for the race committee to get a race in but it was so difficult because it was really patchy and shifty. We started a race in which there was a huge shift, this race got abandoned. Finally after waiting for hours they decided to abandon it for the day. This was a bit of a disappointment but was nobody's fault and couldn't be helped.

On the third and final day, they decided to make it earlier so we launched earlier. When we eventually got to the racing area there was very little wind. After waiting for the wind to fill in we raced. In the first race it was very light and the shifts were very unpredictable. The first race was a complete disaster and ended up in 40th and I couldnt discard it because of my black flag! However in the 2nd race I pulled it together and managed a 14th, which was quite a good comeback after my 40th. In the final race of the regatta I came 10th which was a very good result that I was very pleased with. Overall at the end of the regatta I had ended up 21st out of 157 competitors which is respectable!

What I liked about the event is that after every day, when you had come in and packed away your boat, they would give you a warm lunch of something like pasta or rice with chicken for free! Along with a yoghurt, a drink and chocolate bars from Gran Canaria! Finally the prize giving was very different to Britain’s; it was very formal with tables where you had your food and after you had eaten they would do the prize giving. Once again we didn’t understand what they were saying during the prize giving but congratulated those who won prizes!

We spent our final day visiting places over the island. Firstly we went to the most south point of the island to a beach and went for a quick swim. We then drove to another beach which was a lot windier then the past one. This is where we had our lunch. After finishing there we went to a shopping centre where we looked around for about an hour, most of the time Javi and I were playing on the phones and tablets in a phone store. We went back to the apartment packed our bags and went to sleep a little earlier that night.

Then came the day where we were going home. We said goodbye to Edu and Javi just before we left the apartment. Our next destination was the Yacht club to pick up our sail tube. Then we were on our way to the airport. We passed through all the security and we were on the plane home. We passed beautiful views over Portugal and Spain and finally France before we passed through the clouds into a dark, cold England! We picked up our luggage (which took a lot longer than in Gran Canaria) and made our way to find  my parents to bring us back home!

This trip was a really good experience for me, even though I did miss my family over Christmas, although I don’t regret going! I have learnt a lot and I hope that one day I can go back to Gran Canaria to sail and see Edu’s family once again!

There are a number of Gran Canaria sailors who would like to do a sailor exchange this year.  So if you fancy spending Christmas in the sun, please contact gillian@schonrocks.com


What's in Your Tub?
by Tim Jones, RYA British Youth Sailing Sports Scientist
Having the right fuel for sailing is one of the things that you can control in an environment where there is so much that is out of your hands. Don’t leave your energy levels or concentration at a disadvantage from not getting the right nutrients in.
Figure 1: Blood sugar response to Fast and slow-release carbs
“and what are the right nutrients?” I hear you say... Well if you are out on the water for a long time, you are going to need carbohydrates and not just any type – complex carbohydrates are what your need. These are also known as ‘slow-release carbs’ and guess what? – They absorb into your body slowly, keeping your energy levels and cognitive function under control. Good options include pasta, wraps, and some snack bars (see Figure 3). ‘Fast release carbs’ are sugary and can spike your blood sugar and energy levels and then they can drop just as fast (sugar crashing) resulting in poorer reaction times, tiredness and mood swings not to mention damaging your teeth! - So avoid munching on sweets all day!
This means when looking at snacks for on the water you need to try and avoid the ones that have the highest amounts of sugar (>40g/100g – red dotted line in Figure 3), you can do this by looking at food labels and checking how much sugar there is per 100g. Doing this also lets you compare snacks against each other as normally the portion sizes will differ between products.
Before you go and choose the lowest sugar snacks in the supermarket, there are some others things you need to consider: Low-sugar products can be high in fibre and/or fat, which can result in gastrointestinal discomfort or lethargy, therefore if you have a weak stomach or the conditions are hard, you may want to shoot for a slightly higher sugar snack or something with a higher glycaemic index without the sugar, such as rice cakes or sandwiches with white bread. Best thing to do is to try some different snacks out away from regattas and on-water training, and always move towards the lower sugar options (for reference values see Figure 2).
Figure 3: Sugar content of a range of popular snacks
If the conditions are light then you may not end up eating your snacks at all - having 3 balanced meals a day with plenty of water (2-3litres) could be enough, but it’s best to have the snacks with you. Avoid eating large portions just before launching or on the water otherwise you may struggle to digest them, and most of all stay away from the sweets, apart from maybe the last race of the day to give a last ditch energy burst.
If you'd like to do a kit test for Gill please send a short email with your name, age, the item you'd like to test and why you think you'd make a good kit tester to: admin@optimist.org.uk

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Spring Champs, Easter Regattas,

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