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

Welcome to Op-eNews

Issue 7: May 2014

Entry to the 2014 Volvo Gill Inland Championships closes Friday 9th May 2014. Late entry fee applies from 10th May 2014.

Please Enter and Pay via the
Inlands Event Website

Membership Matters

2014 Membership is now available.
Welcome to all our new IOCA members!

Membership Packs

There are currently a large number of membership packs outstanding for posting.  I will endeavour to make up the packs over the weekend for collection from the race office at the Inlands.

Many apologies for the delay.

Lost & Found


Selections - Grey padded top cover, unmarked please contact Andrew Beck <beckandrew25@gmail.com>

Springs - Spars please contact Valeria Sesto <vsesto2001@yahoo.com.ar>


Buoyancy Test Date for the Inlands should be on/after 19th May 2013

Dates for Your Diary

Buttons below take you straight to the event website (opens new window)
Inland Championships .... 17/18 May 2014
Entry for the Inland Championships closes 09/05/2014. 

Please Volunteer for a Duty HERE
There are plenty of roles to be filled both on the water and on shore.  Most require no experience, just an hour or so of your time.  It's a great way to meet parents and sailors, and we can't run the event without you!

Additional details will be added to the event web-page over the next few days - please check regularly.

If there are insufficient volunteers to fill the roles, we may have no option but to allocate duties to each family attending.
Area Championships..... 12/13 Jul 2014
National Championships...... 2-8 Aug 2014

Inlands Information


Sibling Coaches
We are looking for older siblings to provide coach support for the back end of Regatta Fleet. If you are interested, please contact Gillian Schonrock (gillian@schonrocks.com).

Regatta Fleet
Ribs: We are short of ribs for Regatta Fleet. If you, or your Club, have a rib that you could bring along, please let me know. If you are available to helm/crew a safety boat, please also let me know.

Volunteers: We have a huge number of volunteer spots to fill. Many of the roles are on shore, and do not require any previous experience.

Please can EVERY PARENT sign up for at least one duty. If you are new to the event, and not sure how to help, click here to find out more about the various roles.

Rigging Session: We will be running a rigging session for parents in front of the Clubhouse after the sailors launch on Saturday morning.

Parents Briefing: Sunday morning after sailors launch in the Upstairs Bar.

Gillian Schonrock
Regatta Fleet Co-Ordinator
07789 424 310


There will be a basic safety check.  This will act as as a pre-check for the nationals too.

We will be checking RYA Certificate, Buoyancy & Sail Button no. Please remember your documents.


For Sailors attending the ETs this weekend, Grafham have kindly agreed that you can, if you wish, drop off your oppies on the Sunday evening.  Access is available until 7pm.  PLease park boats onthe uphill side of the roundabout, between the trees.


The new caterers at Grafham will be open for suppers on Friday evening.  They will also be open for breakfasts, lunches and suppers on Saturday evening (Lasagne/Curry). 



Please remember to volunteer for a duty.  We may have to start allocating duties!  Volunteer HERE



IBI are taking orders for delivery of both small and large items to the event.  Please contact Charles Ainsworth charles@ibisailing.co.uk
T: 01243 513002

July 2015, Pwllheli Sailing Club

Planning for the 2015 Optimist European Championships at Pwllheli is in full swing.  There are many other opportunities to get involved, so if you would like further information please contact
David Baddeley, Optimist Euros 2015 Chairman

2014 Events

Pwllheli International Optimist Clinic 22-25 July 2014

 The Pwllheli International Clinic will be run by GBR National Coach Alan Williams and Greek National Coach Vagelis Atzemian. Both Alan and Vagelis have extensive knowledge and experience of the sailing conditions and championships at Pwllheli.

The syllabus for the clinic is designed for sailors who have very good technique, are sailing at a very good national level and have international experience. We would anticipate that international sailors are likely to represent their countries the following year in the Europeans. For GBR sailors they should have a National Ranking higher than around 120, or be in the Development, Intermediate or National Squad.

Pwllheli International Optimist Regatta 26/27 July 2014

Entry for the clinic and regatta are now OPEN www.optimisteuros2015.com

www.optimisteuros2015.com  Facebook: Optimisteuros2015  Twitter: @OptimistEuros15


IOCA Resources: The 6 Boat Trailer

IOCA’s newest region North East England was grateful to receive the loan of a fabulous six boat trailer. A spanking new trailer was waiting for us at the last End of Seasons as Rutland. It still had the factory wrapping on the break handle.
We excitedly towed it the 200 miles North in time for our winter training programme. We have taken it everywhere since. We have been with it to zone squad training venues ranging from Kielder Water in Northumberland to Beaver near Doncaster. It has been to our six North East Development open training meetings. We use it to tour the busy North East Youth Travellers Series. In May it will travel to Rutland for the Eric Twiname Championships to park it at Grafham for the IOCA Inlands the weekend after, really handy! The trailer is useful in introducing new sailors to travel by taking care of the transport hurdle. By now we have a quick routine loading the trailer with boats. The big lockable containers in the middle of the trailer take all spars, sails, and trolleys. In the pictures you see how proud the team is to arrive with the trailer at each venue (picture 1). It usefully holds all stuff stopping it from blowing away while on the race course (picture 2). It finally makes a fine trapeze training tool (picture 3). Thank you Sport England for funding and IOCA for loaning the wonderful six boat trailer while we keep clocking up the miles.

Volunteering De-mystified: The Trolley Assistant

by Kate Taylor

I am the weakest link in my family.  Everyone but me is happiest when on the water, either in a rib or sailing.  For me it would require sedation and a bucket.  For this reason I have always been “Ground Control”, happiest at the edge of the water, so I have volunteered for roles which take me as near to the water as I dare – launching or trolleys. As I have been lucky enough to have witnessed launching and recovery in lots of different venues and classes over many years, both in the UK and abroad, I have come to appreciate that it is one of the most important roles – just as important as being out on the water!! 

An efficient and well coordinated group of volunteers can speed up the launching process incredibly, as proved at the Irish Nationals each year, where they seem to have a competition as to how quickly they can launch hundreds of sailors on a narrow slip way, even having to cross a busy main road! The sailors can only launch if the trolleys are removed quickly, enabling them to get out to enjoy a days sailing.

 It is also a great opportunity to say hello to and wish each competitor good luck as they launch, and even have a last word with your own sailor, who if you are lucky may just grunt as you wish them good luck and all the last minute directions – “don’t forget to tie your dagger board in”, “Just do your best”.

Equally important is returning the correct trolley to the sailors at the end of the day, and not just to your own sailor. We have all been guilty of waiting for the sailors to arrive with just our own sailor’s trolley, but spare a thought for those sailors who have parents who are both out on the water, and have no one to bring them their trolley.  The sailors may have had a hard long day, and helping them get their boat on to their trolley is a gift, hopefully presented with a smile, that anyone can give, volunteer or not. This is particularly important in sea venues, where the trolleys may have been left a long way from the sea’s edge.

Finally of course it is a good way to get to know other parents and make friends. After launching, the trolleys are all stacked away in order, and there is time to chat.  No training is required, and the only equipment you need is a pair of waterproof shoes or boots.  If you wish you can use it as an excuse to buy a pair of waders so that you can look the part.  I always wear Ravi’s, which are several sizes too big and very unflattering – my excuse!!

Being part of the whole event even in a small way can really help make the experience a positive one. For the children seeing their parents become involved in many different ways is very beneficial.  It helps them to feel involved and will encourage them to volunteer in turn later in life.  Our older children have all experienced this, and gained hugely from their own volunteering at events and training.  Give it a try, you might even enjoy it!

News and Reviews

2014 Teams Selected!

A tough, long, bank holiday weekend of sailing for the 82 sailors who attended the 2014 GBR Optimist Team Selection Trials.

Throughout the weekend the top 5 sailors changed regularly, and many sailors had both high and low scoring races. However, on Monday it was Vita Heathcote who took the lead with an impressive set of mostly top 10 results to win the Selection trials and secure her place on the 2014 Worlds Team.

Full results.
Congratulations to the sailors selected for the following 2014 GBR Optimist Teams:

Worlds Team (San Isidro, Argentina):
Vita Heathcote, Benno Marstaller, William Hall, Hatty Morsley, Rhys Lewis.

Europeans Team (Dun Laoghaire, Ireland): Alex Smallwood, Fenella Bennett, Haydn Sewell, Julia Mellers, Milo Gill-Taylor, Oliver Hill, Sophie Holloway.
Development Team (French Nationals):
Jamie Harris, Harris Cartwright, Arthur Fry, Rory Harper, Christopher Jones, William Heathcote, Alexandra Schonrock, Charlotte Boyle

Flanders Team:
Hamish Taylor, Johnny Thompson, Archie Leckie, Matthew Leary, Rosie Williamson, Calum Cook, Matt Beck

Yachts and Yachting Report
(Pictures ©Christine Spreiter 2014 )

Random Pairs Championship

by Freya, Pippa and Rosie.

The last weekend of half term we went to Bowmoor for the Random Pairs Team Racing! Pippa, Rosie and I all really enjoyed it and thought it was great fun. It gave us the chance to speak to people we

haven’t spoken to before and work with them as a team. We learnt many new skills and practice under pressure. It also gave us a chance to help other team mates and use the rules tactically. The races were quick and short which made you think quickly and make decisions with your team mate fast. After the races we were given a short debrief by one of the jurors which made us understand the rules better and help us in the future. Overall we found the Team Racing really really fun and would love to do it more often. We would recommend everyone to have a go.

Spring Championships 2014

by Rhys Lewis

It was great to be going down to Torbay for the spring champs. I had never been there before and everything was well organised and relaxing (even though my boat was at the very end of the sea wall!). It was a lot warmer than last year in West Mersea!

We stayed with the Halls and the Kneales in an enormous mansion which had a heated indoor pool. Everyone has one of these in Wales so it made us feel right at home!

The forecast had said that the wind was going to be quite strong but when we got out on to the race course on the first day the wind was light with fairly big waves. Nevertheless it was good racing and the starts got away (just!). I had a fantastic day, with a second and two bullets. It was very close with less than 10 points between 1st and 10th.

On Sunday it was even lighter winds and there were still fairly big waves. The fleet had been split into gold and silver which meant that there was going to be even closer racing.
In the first race I got Z flagged because I went at one minute (there goes my discard)! The second race wasn't great for me either but in the last race I managed to get a fourth.
In the end Will deserved to win because he sailed the most consistently over the weekend. The race officer did a great job as he had to manage a lot of sailors who were in their first main fleetregatta and he also had to keep an eye on Iago and Gethin! The jurors also had a lot of fun whistling!

Overall I think it was a great event and I would love to go back to Torbay next year

Picture: Ellie Driver
Missed out on prize giving?  No problem! It can always be re-arranged on the M40!

Braassemermeer 2014

by Drew Wright

It's Braassemermeer 2014 and 40 GBR Optimist sailors have come to Holland for the Easter Regatta. Some of us also
competed in the Opti Springs at Port Zealande the previous weekend.

It's great to all be together as a team and to talk to Milo and other top GBR sailors. You learn a lot when sailors explain what they did and what they were thinking on the race course. The coaches have asked us to focus on getting the process right, checking all of the controllables, like setting up our rigs and doing our pre start routines.

We had a few days training before the event in strong winds and unfortunately Cossie Lewis was injured. On day one of the regatta we were split into three flights and racing started in strong winds. Soon GBR were challenging the Dutch for the top places on the leader board. A lot of GBR sailors were doing well and Julia Mellors and Rhys Lewis both won the second race in their flights. Matt Beck won the third race after gaining places on the last beat.

Day two was long and frustrating with over 8 hours on the water, lots of general recalls, course adjustment and also a lot of black flags for team GBR. William Heathcote won the 4th race, Julia Mellors and William Hall won the 5th in their respective flights and William also won the 6th race.

On day three the sailors were separated into gold, silver and bronze flights. GBR were still in contention for top positions. Conditions were really shifty and testing with even the most experienced sailors finding it hard to read what was going on. Alex Schonrock had a great day and was placed 4th, 3rd and 5th in the races. Pippa Cropley won the 9th and Milo won the 10th race.

On the final day the wind was much lighter and at times races were postponed to wait for the breeze to fill in. This made a change to the last few days. Vita Heathcote won the 12th and Julia Mellors the 13th and last race.

Overall team GBR were the first placed team. William Hall was the highest placed GBR sailor in 4th position and Vita Heathcote was the first girl in 7th place.

William said "it had been a really tough regatta competing against sailors of an extremely high standard. Braassmermeer is a very testing venue with shifty, changing wind conditions and so decision making on the course is difficult. Our coaches, Alan, Tom Will and Robbie had been a great support to the GBR team".

Tales from Lake Garda

by Hannah Roberts-Straw & Emily Hall

Our journey started on the Sunday with an early morning chunnel crossing, we had never been through this before and it was really quick and easy….we were in France in half an hour. Then we had a long day’s drive through 4 countries ….France, Belgium, Luxembourg and stopping for an overnight stay in Stuttgart, Germany.

The next day we started with an early morning swim at our hotel before hitting the road. The second leg of our journey took us through Germany and Austria and over the mountains. We took the scenic Brenner pass and eventually we arrived at beautiful Lake Garda in Northern Italy. After checking into our apartment we took a stroll down to the old part of Riva del Garda which has amazing old buildings and beautiful views across the lake and the surrounding mountains. We sat outside at a restaurant in a piazza and enjoyed our first pizza, followed by gelato (this was to be the first of man).

DAY 3/4
After unloading the boats from the trailer at the club which was not too busy as it was still 2 days before the start of racing, we went to registration. This was well organised and straight forward with no boat papers needed except for insurance documents. We had 2 days training sessions with a group of other GBR sailors organised, and so we got rigged ready to sail…..

Our coach, Robert Baddley had competed at Lake Garda when he was sailing oppies and told us some interesting facts about the region. We learned that the lake is as deep as the surrounding mountains’ are high, and that the wind usually switches from North to South at 1pm ish most days and is known as the “aura”. We were to discover that the lake water is freezing; as it is melted snow from the mountains and even when it is sunny and hot by the shore, it can be VERY cold on the water. Most people were wearing drysuits but we both went for wet gear.

We were also given an introduction to how the pre-start and start line system worked, which is an approach aimed at coping with large fleets.

All the GBR sailors took part in a parade the evening before the racing started. It set off from the club and ended up in the main piazza of the old part of town where the mayor came out onto a balcony to witness the multi-coloured array of flags from all round the world (photo)

There were 5 different flights in the junior fleet- yellow, blue, red, green and white, and 650 boats competing in total. We moved all the GBR boats down to a beach not far from the club in order to avoid the crush and had a lovely quiet spot to rig and launch from.
We launched late morning ready for 1pm race start and this was to be the windiest day of the series, blowing a constant 10-12 knots for most of the afternoon.

Firstly, the yellow fleet had to go to the pre-start line and then when they dropped the yellow flag signal the fleet proceeded to the start line when a 5 minute sequence was given. Meanwhile the blue fleet were called to the pre-start line and then given the signal to move on to the start line once the yellow fleet were away racing. This process then continued for all the flights in a similar

Hannah was in blue fleet and so was 2nd start and Emily was white fleet and last start.  We found it very confusing to start off with, but once we got the hang of it, it appeared to be much quicker than the usual system that we are used to in the UK. The jury boats cruise up and down in front of the line and push the line back so there are no general recalls or restarts. Some good results today with Hannah getting a 26th in her best race;-)

GOOD FRIDAY, BUT NOT GOOD FOR RACING….. only 1 race for all the flights except yellow fleet that managed 2. Light winds all day and not a great day for us in terms of results.

That evening we met up with the rest of the GBR sailors and their families for a meal out. We had fun playing rugby outside together after the meal.

We had to get up really early as they decided to try and start racing early so that the rest of the flights had a chance to catch up a race. Yellow fleet got a lie-in!!  Emily had a bit of a mishap when her rudder fell off and caused her to capsize close to shore. Luckily a rib was close by and they managed to get it fixed on the water.

Despite this start we had a GREAT DAY of sailing, some nice wind (10-12 knots at times). We both got some of our best results today with Hannah getting a 16th and 21st, Emily with a 44th.

Most of us had to move flights that day and hence change ribbons out on the water. Hannah moved from blue to red, but Emily stayed in the same flight (white).  At the end of the day we were all re-flighted in line with our results. Iago and Gethin made gold, Hannah made silver and Emily made emerald. Both of us were a bit disappointed as we would have liked to make the flight above.

Another very early start, but as the wind was light and very shifty, only gold and silver got a race in before the wind died.

After the wind switched the silver fleet got a second race in. Bronze and Emerald then started a race eventually in the afternoon, but this was abandoned (unluckily for Emily who was coming first at the time)  Eventually a race was completed by Emerald but not a good one for Emily, and then tows back because the wind had died completely.

After de-rigging we had a well deserved last trip to the ice cream parlour…YUMMY!!!

And then the start of the long trip home….

We thought that Lake Garda was a great sailing event with good competition from a large fleet of boats in a beautiful setting. It was a really fun experience and we made some new British and Bermudan friends.  The food was amazing and good value at just 2 Euros for a 2 scoop gelato and it was sunny most of the time.  We would both love to go again if we get the opportunity.

Clubs & Flotillas

Channel Islands - Winter Training

The last week-end of St Catherines’s winter training programme finished in style.  Following a day of hail storms and gusts up to 30 knots, the sailors were rewarded with a rainbow photographed by visiting coach Clare Hall.

Thirteen optimist sailors took to the waters once a month all through the winter to practise their skills and gain experience in harsh conditions.  IOCA “I sailed through the winter” medals were presented to the silver fleet sailors, who trained on Saturdays, while the gold fleet sailed both days of the week-end.

SCYC Crewsaver Abersoch Dinghy Week

"Sun, Sea, Sailing and a whole lot of family FUN!" sums up perfectly the ethos behind Crewsaver Abersoch Dinghy Week, according to Andy Teague, the SCYC event organiser.

Every Summer, South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club hosts a large, multi-class sailing regatta attracting over 250 dinghy sailors to the stunning Llyn Peninsula in North Wales.  The quiet seaside town of Abersoch transforms into a mecca for sailing, watersports, wakeboarding and boating enthusiasts, and  Abersoch Dinghy Week (20th - 25th July 2014) lies at the heart of the summer activities programme.  Morning or afternoon racing is offered in 13 fleets, combined with an extensive social programme for the whole family to enjoy.  Junior sailors who have not yet learnt to race, are also encouraged to join in the sailing, with beginner training sessions provided each afternoon by SCYC.  This summer, IOCA has teamed up with SCYC to extend the sailing programme available to Optimist sailors by adding a high-quality race-training Optimist clinic into the mix with RYA Optimist Racing Coaches.

As a multi-class regatta, all types of sailors are catered for, no matter which dinghy they choose to sail.  Afternoon racing is available for junior family members in the Optimist and Topper fleets, and morning races are organised for the highly-experienced lifelong solo helmsmen of the Laser and Solo fleets.  Adrenaline-pumped teenage race-heads in their 29ers, competitive ladies in their Laser Radials and the high-testosterone-filled competitors of the Phantom fleet are all catered for with races each day competing for the coveted class trophies and fantastic prizes donated by the event sponsor, Crewsaver.

The racing is set to offer some challenging competition as experienced and Championship titled-sailors from all over the UK, come to Abersoch to participate in the event.  However, Abersoch Dinghy Week is not just all about the sailing.  With half-day racing there's plenty of family time to explore the beautiful sandy beaches, stunning coastline and nearby town of Abersoch with it's collection of chic eateries and quaint boutiques reminiscent of continental destinations.  The SCYC clubhouse offers a perfect setting in which to relax and unwind, socialising with friends, whilst enjoying panoramic views of the sailing.  A comprehensive social programme includes live bands, BBQs, a quiz night and a paddle-board competition; not forgetting to mention the array of powerboat or wind-powered water sports on offer from the sailing school situated on the beach, which all contribute to the family-fun flavour of the week.  With so much on offer both on and off the water, Abersoch Dinghy Week provides the perfect opportunity for the whole family to get involved and enjoy a UK-based family sailing holiday together.

IOCA is providing two mornings of high-quality race training for Optimist sailors on the fifth and sixth mornings of the regatta with RYA Optimist Racing coaches. This training programme  complements the six afternoons of Optimist-fleet racing for intermediate and advanced sailors, as well as the training sessions for beginner sailors, which feature in the annual SCYC programme.  When asked what IOCA's involvement can add to the already, highly-established, successful event, Andy Teague replied:

"Since it began 43 years ago, Abersoch Dinghy Week creates an opportunity for grandparents, parents and children to sail together at the same time and attracts families spanning several generations.  The IOCA training programme will help to continue to inject more young sailors into the event, many of whom are likely return to Abersoch year-after-year as they transition through the dinghy classes.  Through continual development of the junior segment, we are therefore ensuring a successful event for many years to come for future generations to enjoy."

Dinghy Week is organised at the same time as the International Optimist Coaching clinic a few miles away in Pwllheli just two weeks before the British Optimist Nationals, for sailors with National rankings above 120.  The Abersoch event therefore provides the perfect destination to combine some competitive coastal waters pre-Nationals racing practise and an opportunity to get some race coaching tips and advice with a fun-filled family beach holiday for sailors not eligible for the Pwllheli clinic.  Therefore, families with National squad sailors wishing to attend the Pwllheli clinic with younger siblings in zone squads or below not eligible, the Abersoch training and racing on offer is tailor-made to ensure that the whole family get the most out of their holiday on the Llyn Peninsula.  Sailors from both the Pwllheli clinic and Abersoch Dinghy Week are then being encouraged to join together at the end of the week in some competitive big-fleet racing practise at the Pwllheli International Regatta.

The IOCA two-morning race camp has proved to be very popular and is filling up quickly.  Therefore, any families wishing to travel to the Llyn Peninsula this summer to take advantage of either the Pwllheli International Coaching clinic (22nd-25th July), Pwllheli International Optimist Regatta (26th-27th July) or Abersoch Dinghy Week (20th-25th July) should consider booking their accommodation and training now to avoid disappointment.  For those sailors interested in the training and racing opportunities on offer at Abersoch, please visit www.scyc.co.uk to book online.  With schools all over the UK breaking up for summer at different times, Dinghy Week costs have been kept to a low at just £30 for 6 afternoons of racing or beginner training, and £20 for two mornings of IOCA race training clinic, to provide families with the option of either joining in the full week of activities or just a couple of days, and still feel that they are getting great value for money.  For further enquiries, please contact Andy Teague, SCYC Crewsaver Abersoch Dinghy Week Organiser, tel.07971 785527  Email: info@scyc.co.uk


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

7671J_Junior Neoprene Winter Gloves
906J_Junior Hiking Boots
4421J_Junior UV Sport Rash Vest
4916J_Junior Pro Racer Buoyancy Aid

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Next issue
Issue 8: July 2014

Teams, Inlands, Pre-Nationals

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