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Gill 2017 728x90

Volvo Gill Optimist British National and Open Championships at the WPNSA - Day 1

by Paula Irish 31 Jul 2017 12:50 BST 29 July - 4 August 2017

More than 380 Optimist sailors from home and abroad are competing at the 2017 Volvo Gill Optimist British National and Open Championships.

The event coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Optimist class and started in style on Sunday with the traditional oath and raising of the flag during the opening ceremony at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.

Challenging breezy conditions saw the Mini Racers and Regatta Coaching fleets kept ashore but battle commenced in the fiercely contested senior and junior main fleets and for the regatta racing fleet.

In all there are 383 sailors representing 16 nations, with 91 sailors travelling from overseas, attracted by world class junior racing to join the competition at the British nationals.

International race officer Peter Saxton set a course in the harbour for the senior and junior main fleets, who notched up two scores to open their accounts.

Heading up the senior main fleet for GBR overnight are Jamie Cook, James Foster and Haydn Sewell leading the charge for Great Britain. Top Brits after day one in the junior main fleet are Sam Dickinson, Freddie Howarth and Emily Elms, with both main fleets each having 127 helms competing.

The overseas competitors include Optimist sailors from Mexico, USA, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Cayman Islands, Ireland, Hong Kong, Australia, BVIs, Norway, Bermuda, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, UAE and Turks & Caicos.

Racing continues through to Friday 4 August with more breeze forecast, and Tuesday will see a Champion of Champions race to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the class.

Former Optimist national champions, current top sailors in the fleet and world-class international sailors and coaches will be competing in Oppies in the invitational race - including BAR America's Cup sailor Paul Campbell-James (Optimist champion '95 and'97) and 470 Seoul Olympian Jason Belben (Optimist champion '79), just back from the Moth worlds at Garda. More than 40 are so far registered to take part - will experience triumph over youth or will the result be height and weight-dependent?!

Follow all the latest news from the UK International Optimist Class Association on Facebook @iocauk and from the championship on Twitter @oppinationals.