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Optimist British Nationals at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy

by Sharon Davidson-Guild 5 Aug 16:31 BST 27 July - 2 August 2019
Optimist British Nationals at the WPNSA © Sharon Davidson-Guild

On the final day of the Optimist British Nationals the light winds ensured that the final results were only decided after the last race. With over 340 sailors from 17 different countries the great wind conditions (and blue skies!) certainly made for a memorable week's sailing for all competitors.

The week long competition started with the opening ceremony, which was called to order by Portland's Town Cryer and the traditional sailor parade being led by British Sailing Team member Saskia Tidey. With sailors from 17 countries joined the British Sailors to provide a truly international feel to the event. Saskia commented "it felt much more like a Worlds event with so many different country flags being paraded" during her opening of the event where she provided words of wisdom to the sailors ahead of their week before being joined on stage by defending overall 2018 champion Christian Ebbin from Bermuda and 2018 junior girls Champion Arwen Fflur for the sailor oath before the flag was raced to indicate the start of the event.

After registration and the International Sailor welcome party on the Saturday night, the sailors anxiously got themselves ready for their first day of racing. The wind was a bit breezier than forces (+23knts) which provided a challenge for the sailors, with nosedives and capsizes for some and a lot of bailing needed! The Race committee, lead by PRO Ian Bullock, did a great job in getting 2 races in for all the main fleets and the last boats were off the water at 17.15. The Regatta Fleet sailors managed to complete a practice race but in the conditions it wasn't possible for Coached Regatta to get afloat. The first Sailor Raffle awaited the sailors after their PRO de-brief - these are a massive hit with the sailors as each day, along with recognising those sailors who achieve a bullet, lots of prizes are given away - including each day a new sail kindly donated by one of our amazing sponsors. The chants of "you have to be in it to win it" rung out - a familiar sound throughout the week!

A great decision by the main fleet Race committee saw the fleet heading out into Weymouth Bay on Monday with 3 races being held in fantastic racing conditions sun, wind and waves! The slightly lighter winds ensured the Racing Regatta fleet got in 5 races and the Coached Regatta fleet also got off the mark with their racing.

Tuesday's forecast looked grim with a storm passing through so an early call to AP over A ensured that the sailors could focus on enjoying taking part in activities on the shore led by class sponsor Volvo who were on site with lots of fun things of the sailors to take part in during the morning. An afternoon off gave the sailors the opportunity to put together their recycled fancy dress costumes ready for the Sailor Party in the evening. With the event hall transformed for the evening and sailors and parents were treated to an evening of fun including a climbing wall, fancy dress parade and competition, grinder, pledge wall, disco and Zumba, lead by event judge Chris Hopkins.

With the qualifying races finished in main fleet; Wednesday saw the start of the finals series; beautiful blue skies met the sailors on their arrival but the day started much breezier than expected (with average winds over 23knts) but a course was set up in Portland Harbour. With AP over white (junior silver) the remaining fleets launched as the committee wanted to see how the other fleets got on. Junior Silver launched around 12.00 and completed one race before coming back in, with a promise to go out again as the forecast was showing a reducing forecast whilst the other fleets stayed out and completed their 3 races. Once they'd finished their 3 races Junior Silver were re-launched - this staggered approached increased the safety ratio on the water but also ensured that they could take advantage of the lighter winds (17knts) the late afternoon afforded. Another fantastic day's racing, but a long one for all the Race committee who didn't get off the water until 6.00 pm. Unfortunately, the strong winds didn't make it possible for Regatta Racing or Coached Regatta to get any races in but they were able to take part in the Marlow Ropes splicing clinics being run all day for parents and sailors.

Thursday and Friday saw much lighter winds ensuring that all fleets were able to get in a full series of races to complete the week to crown the champions!

James Dwyer Matthews from Ireland was crowned overall senior champion with an impressive set of results, with Jaspar Neilsen from the Cayman Islands finishing 2nd and last year's champion Christian Ebbing from Bermuda finishing 3rd. British sailor Santi SestoCosby finished 4th overall to be crowned British National Senior Champion (and first British boy) and Henry Heathcote finished 5th overall (2nd boy) and George Creasy was 3rd British boy.

1st overall girl went to Jessica Riordan from Ireland. Arlen Fflur was crowned British Female Champion with Ellie Creighton 2nd and Ella Lightbody 3rd.

Jasper Anderson from France was crowned overall junior champion with David mateo Coates and Daniel Van Puffuelen from the USA in 2nd and 3rd. Emma Breese finished 4th overall and was crowned British National Junior Champion and 1st girl followed by Charlie Gatehouse (5th overall and 1st British Junior boy). Lila Edwards was 2nd British girl and Emma Rennie was 3rd British girl. Archie Munro-Price was 2nd British boy and Joseph Jones was 3rd British boy.

Freddie Callaghan (GBR) was crowned Regatta Racing champion with Dirk Rogers (2nd) and Henry May (3rd) completing the boys line up. 1st girl was Nicola Richards, 2nd girl was Macy Law and 3rd girl was Amelia Kilgour.

The Coached Regatta fleet was won by Leon Kadioglu with Dominic Bowden 2nd and Zara Gatehouse 3rd (1st girl).

Full results for all fleets can be found here.

A massive congratulations to all the sailors on their achievements during the event; the sportsmanship on and off the water was great to see and was demonstrated at prize giving when each of the fleet's Perham Sportsmanship Awards were awarded to those sailors who were identified, amongst the many nominations that were received, for showing outstanding sportsmanship.

A massive thank you to all the volunteers for their hard work and dedication throughout the event; the event doesn't work without their dedication and support.

Thank you to the 420 Class for sending along Class Coach Tim Rush to hold try a boat sessions every evening during the week and for Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre offering opportunities for sailors to try the 29er and Laser.

And we can't forget the generosity of our sponsors and supporters; Volvo, Gill, IBI Sailing (who donated an Optimist boat which was won by Jemima Day), Charter Optimist, Marlow Ropes, extremity.net. North Sails, CoastWaterSports, Kaboodlebag, Noble Marine, Berthon, HD Sails, Hyde Sails, Pinnell & Bax, One Sails GBR (East), Fernhurst Books, and Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre.

See you all next year in Largs - SAVE THE DATE 1st - 7th August 2020.

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