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Optimist Early Summer Championships at Hayling Island Sailing Club

by Jane Saunders 20 May 19:49 BST 14-15 May 2022
Optimist Early Summer Championships at Hayling Island © Chris Hemingway, Adam Gosling & Andy Ramus

The Optimist Early Summer Championships were held at Hayling Island Sailing Club over the weekend of 14th and 15th May. With a bumper fleet of 180 sailors attending, including an amazing 80 entrants in our younger and less experienced Regatta Fleet, we had a great attendance, showing the strength and depth in the UK fleet!

Saturday provided champagne sailing, with light winds and plenty of sun. Regatta Fleet showed their older friends the way forward, getting three races completed in quick succession, while Main Fleet, a little slower off the blocks getting out to Hayling Bay, did get three races in but certainly tested Race Officer Tim Hancock and his long suffering team with a healthy supply of general recalls. Once Tim started wielding his black flag, the Main fleet racing got under way in earnest. Quite a few of the top end of the fleet fell foul of the black flag on the start line, and there was a full blackboard at the back of the committee boat, but the fleet laid down a solid first day's results ready for a change of pace on Sunday. Special mention goes to Walter Heeley from Australia, competing in his first UK oppy event, definitely winning the prize for the furthest journey!

The 70 boat regatta fleet launched off the back beach at HISC into beautiful sunshine and light breeze. This fleet contains a wide range of abilities and experience, from those doing their first event to those looking to step up into Main fleet. Race Officer Dave Dobrijevic set a square coure in the middle of the harbour over Pilsea Bank, providing a slack tide and a traffic free race track.

3 fairly busy races were completed, a very eager fleet causing a number of recalls and the unveiling of the U Flag... The 3 races produced 3 different winners, Freddie Pank taking the first race, Edward Taylor the second race and Isabella Deas claiming the third and final win of the day.

Overnight, consistency paid, Edward Taylor (1,2) leading from Freddie Pank (12,3). Only the top six had managed two top ten results, such is the tightness of the regatta fleet racing. Rupert Garlick held third (4,3) followed by Eliza Holley 4th (4,5), Isabella Deas 5th (1,9) and Lizzie Hudson in 6th (5,6).

On Saturday evening Hayling Island Sailing Club hosted a Hawaiian themed party for the fleet, and everyone had a great time on the terrace, making friends and soaking up the lovely evening sunshine.

Sunday could be summed up in one word - soggy! The early British summer threw everything at our sailors; torrential rain, swirling winds and at one point lightning (!), but that couldn't stop the enthusiasm of the oppy fleet. After a series of testing light wind events, those Main fleet sailors who like stronger winds virtually skipped down the beach, and Sunday's conditions certainly played into their hands once the wind settled into a gusty easterly with three races out in the bay in a reasonably choppy sea and moderate breeze. Emma Breese (RLymYC) showed the fleet a clean pair of heels in the gusty wind with two wins and a second. There were a few thrills and certainly a few spills in Main fleet, but everyone gave it their all, and even on the long sail back in from the bay there were plenty of smiles.

Sunday dawned with a slightly less appealing view... rain!!! but at least we had wind... Once again Dave set a square coure on Pilsey and the fleet were raring to launch! Once the safety fleet was ready, the eager fleet were released, only for a large dark cloud to appear and steal the wind. With lightning reported in the area, the Regatta fleet then returned to the shore - for a quick snack break to wait for the front to pass.

The skies cleared, the wind returned and the fleet headed back out for three rapid-fire back to back races. The wind was up to 12-15 knots, testing the mettle of the young sailors, leading to some hiking, some misadventure and a fair bit of bailing!

Over the three frantic and tight races, Isla Hutchinson had the best day with a 1,2,4. Freddie Pank also claimed a 1,2 and BFD. Ruby Coster cracked the podium with a 3rd in race 5 and then led the last race from gun to gun to take her first regatta fleet race win - well done Ruby! Other consistent performances on Sunday saw: Rafe Bradley with a 4,4. Rex Hay with a 3,7 and Lizzie Hudson with a 5,9. Regatta Fleet was convincingly won by Freddie Pank (Castle Cove YC), in his second Regatta Fleet victory of the season, with Lizzie Hudson and Isla Hutchinson (both Royal Lymington YC) coming second and third. Once back on the beach, the rain abated and the sun returned, just in time to dry out the fleet and motivate the families for the pack up...

Main Fleet was won by Lila Edwards (Parkstone YC), with William Moss (Barnt Green SC) and Dylan Creighton (Cardiff Bay YC) making up the top three.

We'd like to thank Hayling Island SC, who extended their customary warm welcome, and a special thanks to Andy Ramus, HISC Oppy fleet leader (and his crack team of HISC parent helpers) for all his hard work setting this event up alongside the IOCA UK Sailing lead, Nick Martin. Our splendid race officer and mark laying teams, led by Tim Hancock (Main Fleet) and David Dobrijevic (Regatta Fleet) did a fantastic job, along with the safety teams (especially on Sunday where the latter certainly got a workout).

Finally, a big thank you to our fabulous class and event sponsors, without which this wouldn't have been possible, Xtremity (who kindly donated ribs for the event), Gill (who gave some lovely prizes), Noble Marine and AR Design Studio - we really appreciate your support!

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