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Team GBR at the 2022 Arkas Optimist World Championships

by Laura Brock 7 Aug 07:37 BST 27 June - 7 July 2022
Team GBR at the 2022 Arkas Optimist World Championships © Richard Edwards

At the GBR Selection Trials held in Weymouth, five Optimist sailors qualified to represent GBR at the IODA Optimist World Championships in Bodrum, Turkey.

After three days advance residential training at Calshot, Archie Munro-Price, Arthur Greaves, Eliana Edwards, Joe Wimpory and Lila Edwards flew out to Turkey accompanied by their coach, Steve Irish and Team Leader, Kirstie Urwin. The team spent the first few days training and acclimatising to the heat (37 degrees+) and conditions before the racing began against the 276 competitors from over 60 countries from all over the world.

The Racing

The first three days of qualifying racing was in flights and decided which group the sailors would be competing in during the final three days: gold, silver, bronze or emerald.

Coach Steve Irish said, "It was a tough competition and not an easy race track. The starts were challenging and there were a number of huge shifts during the races. The sailors all did a really good job, they kept level headed and remembered their training. They all worked hard the whole way through, even after setbacks or when things went their way. It was a pleasure to work with them all and I hope they learnt loads which they can use in their future sailing careers. They should be really proud."

Team Leader Kirstie Urwin added, "They should be so proud of their performances, it was an extremely tricky venue and they all handled the pressure in a very mature way. They've savoured every experience, from the sailing, the food, looking after their kit and splashing around the water parks of Bodrum. An awesome and extremely memorable experience for sure!"

Competition was fierce and a battle for top spot was fought between sailors from the USA, Ukraine, Italy and Thailand. On the final day of the Championships, Danyil Mykhailichenko (UKR) who had been leading the competition, dropped back to fourth place and Weka Bhanubandh (THA) took first place to become the 2022 Optimist World Champion.

1st Weka Bhanubandh THA
2nd James Pine USA
3rd Francesco Carrieri ITA

Team GBR Results:
Archie Munro-Price (83rd, silver fleet)
Lila Edwards (113th, silver fleet)
Joe Wimpory (120th, silver fleet)
Arthur Greaves (184th, bronze fleet)
Eliana Edwards (192nd, bronze fleet)

For all the results, look at the IODA app on the App store and Play store.

Archie Munro-Price (aged 15)

Qualifying for the worlds team for the second time was quite a relief especially considering the different conditions we had at selections. This gave me a sense of validation for all the work and preparation I had done.

Most of the pre-training was relatively windy but by the first day of racing a high pressure system was sitting over Greece, meaning we had lighter winds as the heat load was unable to develop. Bodrum is sheltered with mountains to the north (where the wind was coming from) this lead to a much lighter and much more unstable wind. meaning that it was a lot harder to know what was going to happen on the beat and therefore plan effectively.

I am most proud of my perseverance to keep on going in silver fleet to try and get the best result. My top moment was when I port tacked the fleet and this led to a top three result in one of the races.

The highlight of my trip was the way sailors of all nationalities mixed in the hotel and making friendships that will span many years into the future.

Bodrum is a lovely destination for a holiday but when the heat load does not fully develop it leads to unstable and shifty winds which lead to racing with high point scores for even the leaders this is evident with the winner (Weka being 74th on day one and 41st going into gold fleet).

Arthur Greaves (aged 14)

Qualifying for the worlds team was surreal. A huge step up from being in the Development 2 team last time. The World's was a bubble of excitement from the plane journey to the ceremonies - everything was an adventure. The competition itself was amazing from the turquoise waters to the blazing heat. It was magical.

The start lines became my biggest challenge, with 60 of the world's best sailors racking up it was hard to find a good gap.

I think the highlight of my trip was the pool in the villa, it was calm and peaceful and we played a lot of games of Marco Polo in it.

Bodrum was an amazing city, the views of the castle were stunning.

My performance in the very last race was outstanding. I left the line crossing the fleet on port with few people ahead of me and was 11th at the top mark. I was so excited that this was happening at a World Championships and I was struck with awe. I was sad to leave but have made lots of great memories and enjoyed it so much.

Eliana Edwards (aged 11)

It felt amazing to qualify for worlds. I was so happy and I didn't quite believe that I had done it. Before selections, I wasn't really expecting to get into it so I was ecstatic that I'd done it.

The main challenges of the competition we'd identified beforehand: to stay focused in the blistering heat and keep drinking water as you could easily lose concentration and secondly to work hard on the starts.

The biased end was always packed as everybody wanted to be there and if you didn't get a good start, due to the amount of people it was very hard to get into clean air for up the beat. If you did get a good start (which was very hard!) the race was a lot easier and you could tack on the shifts. I struggled keeping in phase with the shifts as they were random and sometimes extremely big so if you were on the wrong side of the upwind the race didn't go well.

I'm most proud of when I didn't have a very good start and went out right playing the shifts and I came back getting my best result. I didn't believe I would do that. I'm very proud that I didn't give up.

My top moment was when I was at the biased end, at the pin next to my sister, Lila, when we were in the same flight and we raced and crossed the entire fleet. It felt amazing!

I loved Bodrum as it was beautiful and there was sure to be wind every day. It's an amazing sailing venue. Our hotel was nice and the restaurants in the Marina delicious. I really enjoyed it.

Joe Wimpory (aged 13)

I was very excited to qualify for the Worlds. It didn't really hit me until a few days later. I had worked really hard in training and I was really happy it paid off. The main challenge of the competition was the starts. Sailing against the best people in the world made the start line really competitive and it was easy to lose your lane in the last ten seconds and then get blocked and buried in a big crowd, which made it hard to get clean air.

I was really proud of qualifying for the silver fleet. One of the best moments was on the second day of racing when I made the decision to go left on the second beat and managed to gain 10 places and got a 7th in the race!

Bodrum was amazing, the quality of the sailing, the beautiful clear water and blue skies were spectacular, with cool sunsets in the evening. The best restaurant was Red Pan Pizza, it was delicious food. It was so hot and we had to constantly drink water to keep hydrated and plaster ourselves with suncream.

Some of the best memories were meeting the competitors from other countries. We joined Team NZL on a rib for team racing, then on our lay day we went to the water park with them. It was so much fun and I went on every slide. I hope to see some of the sailors again at future events.

It was an honour to represent Great Britain and an amazing experience.

Lila Edwards (age 13)

When I qualified for the Worlds I felt so lucky. Lucky that I could enjoy this truly incredible experience once again. I had trained so hard for a chance at this and I was somewhat relieved when that hard work finally paid off.

The event was challenging and quite tough but I loved every minute. My highlight would probably be coming third in a qualifying race.

One of my most prominent memories of this competition included the challenges faced on the start line. It was incredible the amount of concentration and effort it took but the satisfaction after that work was very rewarding.

Bodrum is a beautiful destination, absolutely stellar for sailing, with blazing sun and 7-12 knots building to 18-23 knots. It felt amazing to be sailing in such fantastic wavy conditions. The organisers were so friendly and welcoming to us and we all had a wonderful time. Also, I had such fun making friends with sailors from other nations! I got a real sense of the enormity of the experience at the opening and closing ceremonies with 64 nation flags flying, held in the walls of Bodrum castle - a pretty spectacular backdrop overlooking the water!

In Steve and Kirstie I felt I had the kindness and knowledge to get me through whilst leaning so much along the journey!

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