Please select your home edition
Sailingfast 2018 2 728x90

Will Leech and Tessa Clinton win Toyota Optimist National titles

by Yachting NZ 7 Apr 11:39 BST 7 April 2021
Tessa Clinton - Toyota Optimist National Championships - Maraetai Sailing Club - April 2021 © Yachting NZ

Tessa Clinton is halfway to her goal of being the most successful Kiwi girl ever at the Optimist national championships but has her sights on another achievement as well.

The 12-year-old from the Wakatere Boating Club won the girl's national title for the second year running at the Maraetai Sailing Club over the Easter break, finishing ahead of Murrays Bay Sailing Club duo Chloe Turner and Jessica Handley.

Will Leech from Charteris Bay Yacht Club took the boy's title, and overall honours, with an impressive display of consistent sailing, while Joe Leith (MBSC) was second and Cameron Brown (WBC) third.

But Clinton isn't satisfied yet and is eyeing up more success in the class.

"It's a pretty big achievement," Clinton said. "I'm pretty happy.

"I wanted to get top girl again. I sort of have a goal to get it four times so I can beat the person who has got it three times, Susannah Pyatt.

"I'm just going to do a lot more sailing and try to get a lot more sorted and try different boats, like the P Class and maybe some double-handed sailing because I want to win [the Optimist nationals] overall next year."

That accolade went to Leech, whose only result outside the top six across the 12-race series, and his drop, was 10th. His sail number was omnipresent near the front of the 76-boat fleet as he mastered the difficult wind and tidal conditions off Maraetai over the five days of racing.

"It's pretty good to be national champion," he said. "I'm so stoked. There were definitely some nerves. It's hard going into the last day [in front] because you're just thinking about the end result but I tried to keep calm.

"What I was focusing on was keeping consistent because one of Dad's mates was the OK Dinghy world champion and he didn't win one race."

Leech grabbed one win on the penultimate day and his success was the first by a South Island Optimist sailor since Jayvee Buchanan in 2010.

The Christchurch youngster sails a raft of different boats, including a P Class and an F8 foiler he's built with his father, and is one of the smallest sailors in the open fleet.

A total of 170 sailors competed across the open, white and green fleets and they were tested by conditions ranging from gentle puffs to gusts tipping 30 knots.

Matteo Barker and Charlotte Handley (both MBSC) took out the honours in white fleet and Jago Cleghorn and Brooke Day (also both MBSC) were the top sailors in green fleet.

Next year's national championships will be at the Napier Sailing Club next April.

A change to the ranking system was passed at the annual general meeting held during the nationals, which will see the number of ranking regattas drop from four to two.

The top five ranked sailors normally compete at the Optimist world championships but the New Zealand International Optimist Dinghy Association have chosen not to send a team to Italy this year because of Covid-19.

Results from the Toyota Optimist National Championships at the Maraetai Sailing Club:
Open fleet (76 boats)


1st: Will Leech (Charteris Bay Yacht Club) 3 5 2 3 2 6 (10) 4 2 1 2 4 - 34 points
2nd: Joe Leith (Murrays Bay Sailing Club) 1 2 1 11 3 16 2 (25) 1 2 7 3 - 49 pts
3rd: Cameron Brown (Wakatere Boating Club) 5 1 4 4 4 2 (22) 5 4 8 21 1 - 59 pts


1st: Tessa Clinton (WBC) 2 9 14 36 SCP 23 10 11 (48) 21 7 23 9 - 165 pts
2nd: Chloe Turner (MBSC) 43 22 19 27 30 65 (68) 53 35 19 22 23 - 358 pts
3rd: Jessica Handley (MBSC) 21 37 33 43 26 54 54 26 (62) 25 29 25 - 373 pts

White fleet (22 boats)


1st: Charlotte Handley (MBSC) 5 (9) 4 3 1 1 9 1 - 24 pts
2nd: Kate Howse (Kohimarama Yacht Club) 8 13 6 5 (17) 3 8 7 - 50 pts
3rd: Olivia Anderson (KYC) 7 3 11 17 12 14 11 (20) 75 pts


1st: Matteo Barker (MBSC) 1 2 2 1 4 6 2 2 - 14 pts
2nd: Thomas Linklater (Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club) 6 5 1 2 6 (22) 4 3 - 27 pts
3rd: Tom Shannon (WBC) 2 6 (18) 7 3 5 5 5 - 33 pts

Green fleet (62 boats)


1st: Jago Cleghorn (MBSC) (20) 3 3 6 7 6 7 2 2 1 1 - 38 pts
2nd: Isaac Gaites (Torbay Sailing Club) 1 9 8 5 1 (10) 4 10 1 10 10 - 59 pts
3rd: Karl Soltau (MBSC) 4 1 14 (24) 5 13 1 11 23 2 5 - 79 pts


1st: Brooke Day (MBSC) 18 16 13 11 (27) 5 3 8 10 5 12 - 101 pts
2nd: Anna O'Reilly (MBSC) (30) 15 18 14 4 17 20 1 12 3 3 - 107 pts
3rd: Madi Russell (Maraetai Sailing Club) 7 29 20 16 (30) 23 14 7 14 6 9 - 145 pts

Related Articles

Optimst Selection event at the WPNSA
First national event for the class in a very long time The Optimst Selection event took place 30th April to 3rd May at WPNSA. Two days were lost to the cumulonimbus clouds and variable winds. Six races were held in great conditions varying from 8 knots to a very breezy final race gusting over 30 knots. Posted on 11 May
Over 50 nations registered for the Optimist Worlds
Riva del Garda is getting ready to welcome the young sailors There is just over a month to go before the start of the most awaited youth sailing event in the international sailing world, the Optimist World Championship. Posted on 11 May
A hail from Optimist Team Bahamas
Looking forward to joining everyone at the North Americans and The Worlds this year A hail from Optimist Team Bahamas to all our Opti friends, many of whom assisted tremendously after OptiNAM 2019 in helping to rebuild some of our fleets in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorion. Posted on 10 May
Chichester Optimist Open
Skies brighten just in time for racing As the competitors arrived at CYC there was a downpour of hail and sleet on the approach to Chichester. Once at the club the competitors rigged and distributed themselves between the clubs two beaches. Posted on 2 May
Hamble Warming Pan at Easter - two days of fun!
A total fleet of 84 locally based boats attracted by good weather Hamble River Sailing Club's 2021 Hamble Warming Pan over the Easter weekend featured the Junior Warming Pan on Saturday and the 59th edition of the club's famous dinghy open meeting on Sunday, with a total fleet of 84 locally based boats. Posted on 6 Apr
2021 Toyota Optimist Nats - Will Leech dominates
Will Leech (13yrs) dominated the 2021 Toyota Optimist Championships sailed at Maraetai Sailing Club Will Leech (13yrs) dominated the 2021 Toyota Optimist Championships sailed at Maraetai Sailing Club, which finished Tuesday afternoon. Posted on 6 Apr
Victorian Optimist States a huge success
Aidan Simmons holds off Ben Crafoord to win the title Aidan Simmons of the Indented Head Yacht Club was crowned the Victorian Optimist State Champion earlier this month, after holding off 30 other competitors in the open fleet at the Victorian Optimist States hosted by Royal Yacht Club of Victoria. Posted on 30 Mar
Surprise visitor at Toyota Optimist Nationals
A special guest will make an appearance during next weekend's Toyota Optimist Nationals at Maretai The sailors of tomorrow will get a taste of where the sport could take them when a special guest will make an appearance during next weekend's Toyota Optimist National Championships at Maraetai. Posted on 28 Mar
Optimist set for Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy
A once-in-a-lifetime experience this June Young sailors around Portugal will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience this June, lining up in the same regatta as some of the best sailors and fastest boats in the world, at the second annual Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy. Posted on 27 Mar
Marlow Ropes UK Youth Ambassador Programme
Have you got what it takes? The Ambassador programme is an opportunity for the rising stars of the Class Associations to work with a global Leisure Marine brand who work with some of the top sailing and racing teams in the world. Posted on 23 Mar