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Optimist Early Summer Championships at Grafham Water Sailing Club

by Richard and Paru Edwards 29 May 12:05 BST 22-23 May 2021
Lila Edwards 6520 getting bow forward off the start during the Optimist Early Summer Championships at Grafham Water © Paul Sanwell /

Grafham Water Sailing Club hosted the Early summer championships for over 140 Optimist sailors in the Regatta fleet and the Main Fleet. The two day event was held in excellent conditions on two different race courses.

The Optimist fleet headed into their second regatta in 3 weeks looking at a much better wind forecast, if a little on the chilly side! One hundred and ten boats headed out onto the main fleet course split into two flights. It was great to see so many new faces at the event coming to join in the epic experience of Optimist sailing.

After a few of the customary general recalls the first flight finally got away and Archie Munro-Price from Castle Cove SC won the first race, to start where he left off three weeks ago when he won the Optimist selections event in Weymouth. Arthur Greaves from Datchet Water SC sailed to a commanding lead in the second flight and raced out to a comfortable win, with a few falling foul of the U-flag.

A few large rain clouds were forming on the horizon but the wind was remaining stable at 10-15 knots. Lila Edwards and Patrick Bromilow won the next two flights as the dark cloud drew closer. Very good racing took place throughout the fleet making for a great sense of competition and fun!

As the rain started, and the wind started to blow, Ian Bullock, the PRO, continued on with the sequence and started the first flight of the final race on Saturday. The second flight dutifully produced another general recall. The rain and wind squall hit the first flight on their first beat with everyone battling to get the better of the wind. As soon as the rain started, it stopped, along with the wind. The first beat was held in just under 30 knots and by the final leg the wind had dropped to about 3 knots! Charlie Gatehouse from Bewl managed to master the variation of conditions and win convincingly. The wind was now rather fickle and at 5pm the next flight was sent ashore with an early start on Sunday to catch up on their missing race.

The Optimist regatta fleet, the fleet for newcomers to the class, with 37 budding Optimist sailors were sailing on a smaller course nearer the club. King George SC brought along the most regatta fleet sailors from their burgeoning fleet. They all coped amazingly well in the teeth of the gale that passed through Grafham Water. Leo Gosling from Royal Lymington YC enjoyed the best of Saturday leading overnight.

Sunday dawned to slightly more wind which suited Jonny Rogers also from Royal Lymington YC and he managed to take overall victory in the Regatta fleet. Leo Gosling came second and Ben McEwen joined them on the podium, in third.

Some rather impressive computer generated sequences from the race officer managed to persuade the main fleet that starting on the correct side of the start line is a good idea and counting letters in your score card doesn't win regattas. The main fleet, on Sunday, was far more disciplined with nobody being disqualified at the start. Lila Edwards won the early start of the day. The rest of the fleet by now had one to join the early birds to race in slightly shifter and windier conditions than Saturday.

Going into the last race there was all to play for at the top with a few nose dives and capsizes throughout the fleet. The leaders, as always, were sailing to the maximum taking every shift to get an edge on their competitors. Charlie Howard revelled in the conditions to lead the penultimate race from start to finish only to be pipped on the line.

Lila Edwards from Parkstone Yacht Club clinched first place overall in the final race with Charlie Gatehouse in second overall with a string of first places on Sunday. Patrick Bromillow from West Kirby SC completed the Podium positions in 3rd place. It was great to see five girls in the top eight overall. There was stiff competition throughout the fleet, especially from those competing to gain selection into the GBR Junior Team. Hopefully 16, up and coming sailors, will be heading off to Ireland at the end of the summer to compete in the Irish Optimist national championships.

Overall Results:

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