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GBR Optimist teams have a busy summer around the world

by Sharon Davidson-Guild 24 Jul 22:01 BST

At the GBR Selection Trials in May teams were selected to represent GBR at various events this summer; the World Championships (Antigua), European Championships (France), Spinnaker International Regatta (Estonia) and the Nieuwpoortweek Regatta (Belgium).

The teams have now all returned and are looking forward to attending the GBR British Nationals that start on Saturday 27th July.

European Team - Crozon, France

The Europeans Team were the first team to leave the UK and headed to Crozon, France. The 7 strong team, Ella Lightbody, Arwen Fflur, Megan Farrer, George Creasy, Ollie Mears, Santi Sesto Cosby and Edward Coady were joined by coach Robbie Burns and team leader Kat Colvin. After an overnight crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff the team settled into their accommodation ahead of getting into their pre-event training.

The Optimist European Championships are unique in the optimist calendar as they are the only event where girls and boys race in separate fleets. 117 girls from and 176 boys from 49 different countries took part in the event.

Ella Lightbody said "After my first selections I was chosen to represent team GBR at the optimist Europeans 2019 held in Crozon-Morgat, France. I was very pleased with this achievement! There were loads of different nationalities there and a great opportunity to make new friends and trades!

On the first day of racing and after 4+ hours of postponement the day was abandoned due to lack of wind. We managed 2 races on Tuesday in light shifty conditions, I was happy with my results. Wednesday we had a good 10kts to start, building throughout the day! Personally I prefer windier conditions although I did achieve a 10th! By the end of the day the wind was averaging 16kts with some gusts of 18kts therefore we were also able to get another good 2 races in completing our qualifying series.

After a tricky first 2 days racing I had done well enough to get myself into the gold fleet which I felt was great for my first Europeans! Gold fleet was very tough and I was a bit disappointed after the day 4 and felt I could have done better. Finally we came to the last day of racing everyone was hyped and ready to go! We attacked the race course with 3 races in very little wind and an extremely shifty breeze from the land.

With my overall result being 57th (from 120). I was really happy with this and have enjoyed my Europeans experience, especially meeting so many new people!

I Hope to do it again next year, or maybe...... the Worlds!?

Final results for the team were:
(20th) Santi Sestco Cosby
(53rd) George Creasy
(54th) Ollie Mears
(89th) Ed Coady
(45th) Megan Farrer
(57th) Ella Lightbody
(68th) Arwen Fllur

The results meant that GBR have qualified as one of the top 16 teams to attend the 2020 European Team Racing Championships in Italy. Some of this years team will be attending the 2019 event at the end of August - good luck to Santi, George, Ella and Arwen.

Development Team - Spinnaker Regatta, Estonia

The twelve-strong Development Team set off for Tallin, which will host the 2020 European Championships to test the venue for next year's team.

208 sailors from eleven countries took part in the 43rd Spinnaker Regatta and the team had a fantastic week of racing. Gareth Viney, coach said "it was a great event, well run, with brilliant racing conditions on the water. All of the team GBR sailors loved the racing (especially on the breezy days) and really enjoyed being able to explore the city and old town of Tallinn in the evening. For a lot of the team it was their first overseas event without their parents, so there was a lot to be learnt about independence. All of the sailors sailed really well, posting great results with almost half of the team getting into the top 20."

Ellie Creighton said "I was excited and nervous at the same time as this was the first trip without my parents but I knew I was in very safe hands with our team leader (Sarah McGovern) and coaches (Gareth Viney & Ollie Hill), they made me feel so relaxed as we met at Gatwick airport and we were given our team kit. I also was travelling and competing with 11 other team members, who over the next week became great friends, we shared lots of laughs and made many memories. Friends I know I will keep in touch with for a very long time.

As we launched with the 200 other optimist competitors into the first day of racing my stomach felt like a washing machine, I was proud to be wearing the GBR colours but apprehensive as to what lay ahead of me. The wind was about 10 -15 knots, perfect for my Doyle sail, the sun was shining and all the GBR team had a cracking day on the water all gaining top 20 places. Sailing home the first day I felt very satisfied.

As the week progressed the wind built with gusts of 33 knots and this was my personal biggest challenge, the waves were huge and at times when I hit the trough of the wave there wasn't another oppie or rib to be seen. As I surfed the waves the adrenaline was huge, I was petrified and thrilled with myself all at the same time. Rollercoasters had nothing on this! Reaching shore that afternoon I don't think I ever felt so tired but I think every sailor went to bed that night with a smile on their face.

The GBR team all placed amazingly, in particular we had Oscar Morgan Harris and Robert Mawdsley inside the top 10. I think we all learnt so much and with heavy hearts we began to pack up and head home.

Tallinn was a beautiful city, always in the background while we were sailing. Sarah organised lots for us to do and see off the water with a trip to the beach and visits up towers and to the beautiful old town. The food was dubious though with rabbit and donkey on the menu - but I'll definitely be back for the ice cream! A wonderful experience."

Oscar Morgan- Harris finished fourth overall and secured two bullets across the event closely followed by team mate Robert Mawdsley in seventh overall. Top British girl Freya Sewell finished third overall girl in 16th place overall and only a black flag stopped all the British sailors making it through to Gold Fleet.

Flanders Team - Nieuwpoortweek Regatta

This year the Flanders Team (Nieuwpoortweek Regatta) made up of Team Finn Evans, Noah Evans, Ollie Vines, Laura Elms, Felicity Brellisford, Emily Schonrock, Toby Aldous, Angus Beale, Huw Farmer, Ewan Plowden-Wardlaw, Johnny Sargent and Alex Cogan Sivarajanhad were gifted with amazing sailing conditions; good winds with lots of sun!

Fin Evans has said about the event "After the Selections in Weymouth, 12 sailors were selected to attend the Flanders Regatta in Nieuwpoort Belgium. We all travelled out on the Wednesday for some training before the event. We had a full car full with us two and Ollie and Emily joining us in Portsmouth. As you can guess it was very noisy!

Most of the team stayed on a huge campsite with a couple of big swimming pools outside which were warm (most of the time!). Our coaches were James and Toby who we met on Thursday morning for an afternoon of sailing, we went out for a quick sail to see what the wind and waves that Flanders is famous for were about. The answer was lots of wind and big waves when there was wind against tide. The regatta started on Saturday with wind and 35 degrees centigrade so lots of water and sun cream was the order of the day. There were 120 Optimists entered with teams from the USA, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and Belgium and lots of sailors had come direct from the Euro's in France. The first race on that day had a huge windshift and a swarm of bugs hit the fleet making the race a bit unfair (and Angus jumped out of his boat to avoid a wasp) but Team GBR had a great day with Alex winning a race and lots of other top 10 results. We had another good set of results in the remainder of the qualification series with Noah, Huw, Felicity, Alex, Johnny, Toby, Ollie and Angus qualifying for Gold Fleet and me (Finn), Emily, Ewan, Laura in Silver.

The final series was 5 races with the days getting windier in the afternoon but with perfect sunshine every day. Team GB had some excellent results again with more top 10s. Huw finished top Brit in 18th place and I (Finn) won the Silver Fleet and was interviewed on the podium!"

Worlds Team - Antigua

The final team to return to the UK were the 5 sailors who represented GBR at the Optimist World Championships in Antigua. The amazing backdrop off English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard provided a spectacular event.

GBR Head Coach Sarah McGovern commented that "Antigua was such an awesome venue, 10-20knots most days with 1.5m swell and tropically warm weather and water. The team spent 3 days setting up their boats including our home for the event; a Lagoon 42 catamaran provided by Dream Yacht Charters, and getting used to the venue before racing started.

The racing was as you can imagine tough but the sailors fought well and had some good races. The team racing didn't go our way and to much attacking lead to a few to many red flags for Team GB, this lead to a day off and a visit to see Stingrays for Kuba's 14th birthday. The finals racing saw the edge of a tropical storm with torrential rain showers and strong breeze, just what we like.

Henry, Kuba, Ben, Terry and Finian all had an incredibly memorable event and learnt a lot along the way. Their team work and banter was invaluable and made team leader Jen's job a lot of fun. Thanks to the event organisers for such an awesome set up and to the parents for all their help."

Team member Terry Hacker summed up his experience "There was a buzz of excitement as the GBR Optimist 2019 Worlds Sailing Team met up with coach Sarah and team leader Jen at the airport. As I stepped out of Antigua airport, the blue sky and the intense humid heat struck me. We took a bus to our accommodation, a Lagoon 42 Catamaran in English Harbour. We were soon diving off the back of the boat into the warm blue water of the Caribbean Sea.

When it came to the racing it was all about the starts. The starts were difficult due to the tough competition and the strong currents pushing you onto the line. I had mixed results. GBR enjoyed the team racing but it didn't go to plan which freed up the next day for snorkelling. We saw Pufferfish, Turtles and Octopuses but the best part of that day was swimming with the Stingrays.

In the final series, the GBR team was spread across the Silver, Bronze and Emerald fleets. There was again some exciting racing in good winds, including a squall, and enormous waves. This world championship in Antigua was a great event with the best sailing conditions I have ever experienced. I had a fantastic time. The GBR Team bonded brilliantly and I have made some great friends. This was my last Optimist event and I will always remember it."

Final results for the team were:
(72nd) Henry Heathcote
(78th) Kuba Staite
(139th) Ben Mueller
(176th) Terry Hacker
(211th) Finian Morris

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