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GBR Optimist Selection Trials 2015

by Alan Williams 9 May 2015 08:54 BST 1-4 May 2015
GBR Optimist Selection Trials 2015 © Alan Williams

The 2015 Optimist selection trials took place in Weymouth over the weekend of 1-4 May. The trials were to select teams for the worlds, Europeans, Development team and Flanders team, as well as being really good experience for up and coming sailors.

The format was a 12 race series with 1 discard, and a significant change to the on the water support. The 77 sailors were allocated event support by one of 6 dedicated support RIB's for the event- this was to help develop sailor independence, and proved to be very successful. In the 12 race series there was only 1 general recall, and only 3 sailors disqualified under U or black flags.

Each morning there was a sailor briefing with video from the day before, some sailor interviews, and some advice from the jury. It was one of the best selections we have ever had, a good mix of conditions, some excellent sailing, and a friendly atmosphere all round. – The Optimist class at its best.

This was always going to be a tough event with a number of sailors having medalled or finished at the top of the fleet in a number of internationals over the past year.

Friday was unseasonably cold with a brisk easterly, which was stable with only 10-degree shifts, combined with choppy conditions in the harbour. With a poor forecast for Sunday Race Officer 'The Stog' decided to run 4 races.

Milly Boyle from Royal Lymington set out her intent with a bullet in race 1 followed by Vita Heathcote also from RLYC, and Matt Beck from Bowmoor in 3.

The wind eased for race 2 and Rhys Lewis – Cardiff Bay fresh from being in the early 20's at the Lake Garda Easter international posted a bullet, followed by Will Hall in 2 also from CBYC and Matt Beck in 3.

Race 3 saw Milly Boyle take the bullet from Arthur Fry and Adele young from Spinnaker. The breeze increase again for race 4 and was won by Matt Beck, from Cossie Lewis [Bosham], followed by Rhys Lewis.

Other notable performances from day 1 included Drew Wright [Chelmarsh], 44,15,6, Oliver Hill [RLYC], 6,8,6,11, Julia Mellors [Chichester] 9,6,9,12.

Rory Harper [Linlithgow Loch] and Hattie Rogers also had good days.

Saturday was again cold with a strong easterly in the 18-25kt range with a serious chop in Portland Harbour. 3 races were scheduled.

Bailing and sailing fast through the chop was the key to success. Milly Boyle stamped her authority on race 5, followed home Vita Heathcote and Drew Wright. It was a day which belonged to Drew Wright scoring 2,2,1.

Race 6 was dominated by Matt Beck, that was until he weas awarded a yellow flag for 'Hollywood' bailing, the two turn penalty wasn't easy to execute in the strong wind and in an effort to entertain the crowd Matt fell out of his boat bearing away, climbed back in with out capsizing or filling up, completed his turns and still managed to take the bullet on the line from fast finishing Drew Wright, in 2, 'bang right' Rory Harper in 3 and Alex Shonrock [Parkstone] in 4.

To round off the day race 7 was won in fine style by Drew Wright, from Oliver Hill in 2, and Vita Heathcote in 3.

Sunday was one of those days you want to forget. The fleet went out to start in the southerly breeze then the fog rolled in and covered the racecourse. The fleet did a large 'riverbank' between the RIB's to get everyone safely back to the Academy. The fog then cleared, then came back in again, and then there was a strong wind warning, so at 1400 it was AP over A. Immediately the fog cleared and the sun came out, and the wind started to howl.

So at the end of Sunday it was all to play for. It had been windyish and Monday was forecast to be much lighter from the south going left to the eastish.

On Monday morning Matt beck was leading, Drew Wright in 2, Milly Boyle in 3, and Oliver Hill 4, with a number of sailors still in the frame.

Of the younger lighter sailors Jamie Cook, [Cardiff Bay] was in 19th overall, and he was about to have a very good day.

Even though some sailors had built a really good series with only 1 discard, it was all still to play for, and outcome of the trials would go right down to the last race.

Oh- and concours d'elegance went to Mrs Fry sporting white trousers, Mrs Hill for the best hat in the safety fleet, and the chair of selectors who was wearing 'the devil wears Prada sunglasses'.

Race 8 - the breeze was just south of east at about 8kts, Haydn Sewell [Seaview] took the bullet from Jamie Cook in 2, Vita in 3, Tom Dawson [Port Dinorwic] 4, and Barty Grey [Bowmoor].

Quite a lot of the older sailors started to struggle in the lighter conditions. Race 9 was being confidently led by Callum DG [Shotwick], but Vita reeled him in up the second half of the final upwind to the finish- some learning here- learn to cover! Barty took 3 and William Heathcote [RLYC] 4.

The breeze was freshening to 10kts for race 10, and Julia Mellors made her real bid for a world's team place with a Bullet, Jamie Cook 2, Jonny Thompson 3[Frensham], and Vita in 4. So in race 11 the final race it was still all to play for. Matt Beck had secured a worlds place as had Vita- but who would win the trials? Oliver Hill was struggling with the conditions, had Milly Boyle done enough early on, and could Rhys Lewis pull a rabbit out of a hat?

Meanwhile Drew Wright, Julia Mellors and Will Hall, all needed a good last race. This was going to be interesting and tense.

Race 11 started at 1500 on bank holiday Monday. It was going to be a late finish with rain forecast for the pack up at 1600.

Mellors, started well, controlled the fleet and went on to take her second bullet of the day in fine style and secure a worlds team place. Barty Grey was 2 and Hattie Rogers secured her Europeans place with a very good 3 working the middle/right side of the course for a change. Cossie Lewis also had a great race to secure a Europeans place.

Vita was 4th and with that won the trials for a second year on the trot from Matt Beck who was relaxing in the early 20's safe in the knowledge that he had a worlds team place.

Hall, scored a 10 to secure a worlds team place, and Milly Boyle showed her real class, and did enough to take the 5th and final worlds team place. Drew Wright, Oliver Hill and Rhys Lewis all had challenging last races and moved into the Europeans team, which is still a great achievement.

For the first time in 11 years we have 3 girls going to the worlds.

Thanks to Simon Cook and Oliver Shonrock for organising the event, the Academy, the race team led by Stog, Peter and Catherine and Ella. Henry on the pin, Milly Gray who ran the race office, Ant and the jury- sounds like a band, Andrew Beck for results, Steph and the selectors, and everyone else who made this a successful event.

It was also great to see Frank and Jenny Newton - thanks for all your help and support.

GBR Optimist Worlds Team - Poland
Vita Heathcote
Matt Beck
Julia Mellors
William Hall
Milly Boyle

Europeans Team - Pwllheli
Drew Wright
Jamie Cook
Oliver Hill
Arthur Fry
Hattie Rogers
Cossie Lewis
Adele Young
Rhys Lewis

Development Team - Pwllheli
William Heathcote
Rory Harper
Callum Cook
Jonny Thompson
Ellen Main
Lizzie Beardsall
Hannah Roberts-Straw
Emily Hall

Flanders Team
Henry Chandler
Archie Leckie
William Pank
Haydn Sewell
Thomas Dawson
Barty Gray
James Foster

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