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Volvo Musto Optimist Nationals at Largs Sailing Club overall

by Amy Bradley-Watson 7 Aug 2004 08:26 BST

Saxton and Lees victorious at the Volvo Musto Optimist National Championships 2004

From the 29th July – 6th August, Largs Sailing Club played host to the Volvo Musto Optimist National Championships 2004, 294 young sailors competed in the regatta, which had a record number of entries for a Scottish regatta. Sailors from as far a field as Belguim, Holland, Zimbabwe and Ireland were competing.

Mike Golding, recent winner of the singlehanded Transat and Defi Atlantique races on ECOVER and one of the pre race favorite’s to win this year's Vendee Globe was at the Championships today watching the racing and also to presented the prizes at the closing ceremony.

The Optimist is the most popular dinghy class and the majority of the worlds best sailors learnt to sail in it. 90% of the sailors who competed at the Sydney Olympic Games learnt to sail in an Optimist.

Ben Ainslie, who won silver at the 1996 and Gold at the 2000 Olympic Games in the Laser Class, won the Optimist National Championships in 1992.

The standard of racing was extremely high especially at the front of the fleets, where young sailors who have recently returned from the Optimist World Championships were battling it out for the prestigious title of Volvo Musto National Champion 2004.

Today the senior fleet completed three races and the junior fleet two races, both fleets completed eight races, therefore only one discard was used in the series.

In the senior fleet, Ben Saxton, 14 from Grafham Water won the last two races today, taking the lead from his twin brother Tim and therefore was crowned Volvo Musto Optimist National Senior Champion 2004. Ben has sailed very consistently all week, winning four races out of eight races and only having to discard a sixth place, Ben finished the championships with 13 points, eight points clear of second place overall and first girl Sophie Weguelin. Sophie, 14 from Lymington, who was 97th at the recent Optimist World Championships had a great championships and was leading at the start of the regatta, this is Sophie’s last year in the optimist class.

Newly resigned Volvo Musto Optimist National Champion, Ben Saxton had the following to say “I have had a great championship! My strengths on the water have been my starts and general boat speed, the lead changed all week and the competition was tough, so I am really pleased to be crowned Champion!”

The competition in the junior fleet has been extremely high and there have also been quite a lot of new faces at the top of the fleet. Mark Lees, 12 from Poole YC has dominated since race one and has sailed very consistently all week, to finish the championship with 38 points.

Mark Lees, had the following to say, “I have really enjoyed the racing this week, I had really good boat speed especially downwind, I am now looking forward to competing at the Irish National Championships” Mark is currently in the southern zone squad, but due to success at Inlands and at these National Championships it is likely that he will be invited to join the National squad.

First girl and top Scottish sailor in the junior fleet was Anna Burnet, 11 from Royal Northern and Clyde YC. “I have had a great championship, and am pleased to be first girl especially as the regatta is in Scotland, also it is great to bet all the Scottish boys!!”.

Sarah Rees, Sports Marketing and Sponsorship Manager at Volvo Car UK had the following to say about the event. “Another excellent week of Youth Sailing. Apart from the healthy lifestyle, which is so important for any children, the enthusiasm and the skills they demonstrate at such an early age are to be commended and Volvo enjoy contributing to this”.

The National Championships is one of the three key Optimist sailing regattas, the other events being the Volvo Musto Inland Championships which took place at Grafham Water in May and the third the Volvo Musto End of Season Championships which will take place Rutland Sailing Club in October. After competing at all three Championships selectors will then select the National squad for 2005. The National Squad will then also get an invitation to the Volvo Musto Optimist World and European selections which take place in April/May next year.

“Musto are proud to sponsor the Volvo Musto Optimist Sailing Program, and think it is very important to be involved with the grass roots of sailing”. Stated Nigel Musto, Deputy Managing Director at Musto Performance. “ The standard of racing is always extremely high at these championships and I look forward to watching these young sailors following in the foot steps of Britains other sailing sensations, including the Volvo Musto Optimist ambassador Iain Percy”.

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