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Gill Marine Optimist End of Seasons Championship at the Royal Southern Yacht Club

by Sandy Ramus & Andy Bryne 20 Oct 2022 10:11 BST 15-16 October 2022

Royal Southern Yacht Club hosted the IOCA End of Seasons Championship with a fruity 25-35knts forecast for the whole weekend, at one stage leaving the organisers questioning whether they would even get a race in.

However, it settled enough for us to push forward and while the Regatta fleet was stood down on Saturday the Main fleet ventured out.

Main Fleet

The long sail to the start line set off Solent Breezes stretched the legs of the competitors and provided a solid warm up. The PRO Peter Saxton got straight into it but the flooding tide under the fleet meant a lot of boats were over; four starts later they were off but with 24 boats sat on the naughty step.

At the windward mark, it was the experienced Zac Shepherd of Bosham SC leading, a position he would hold until the last leg. Mid race a message went out over the VHF that Lymington was experiencing 33 knot gusts and it was heading our way. By the final downwind leg the storm was upon us and things got significantly more challenging. Just after the final top mark Zac shepherd, under pressure from Lila Edwards, made a mistake and took on water.

This gave Lila the chance she had been looking for and she took the lead and ultimately the bullet. Heavy weather pro, Tabitha Davies, was right behind with Dirk Rodgers finishing 3rd showing that he is not only quick in the light but more than capable in grown up conditions.

With a number of boats capsized and the conditions worsening the PRO flew AP over A and the fleet set off on the 2.5 mile sail home. The slay ride home meant that the kids all came in exhausted but beaming. I'm always so impressed with the optimist fleet to see just how good the kids are, with 10 year olds coping with 30knt gusts.

Day 2 promised to be a different story with 10-15knts forecast all day. The reality was a 2 hour wait as the PRO scoured the Solent for signs of action. At around 1 pm we started to see the weather beacons showing movement and we were soon lining up ready for race 2. Tide was going to be an issue in this one and it was quickly obvious that the left of the race track was going to be a place to be.

Rising star Leo Gosling had a belter of a start at the pin end and by the time he made his first tack, you could see he was going to be hard to catch.

At mark 1 it was Gosling with a 100m lead followed by Dylan Creighton. The tide meant that many underlaid resulting in total mayhem. This allowed rookie Finn Ramus to sail way past the lay line and round third.

Dirk Rogers made the only place change at the front piping Ramus on the last leg to take the third on the line.

With time ticking and the deadline for racing approaching the PRO. This time it was the Edwards girls that bagged the pin and drove it hard into the left hand corner. This saw them arrive at the mark with good leads that they held onto till the end. Walter Heeley, also in the mix, took the 3rd.

This again meant that Lila took 1st overall with her sister Eliana taking second. These two have been hard to beat in the last couple of years. Dirk Rogers put one of his best results of the session together taking the third.

Main fleet results here

Regatta Fleet

After a wise decision to keep the fleet ashore on Saturday, Race Officer Imogen Gibb led the 42-boat fleet out into Southampton Water in bright sunshine. The breeze increased throughout the day giving good racing conditions, with plenty for the sailors to think about as the tide flowed over the race course. For some in the fleet this was their first time racing on the sea and what a great way to start.

Well done to the race team for fitting in four, good-quality races.

In race one, Finn Byrne initially led the fleet across toward the right hand side of the track but Sean Di Salle and Charlie Holland had both tacked back toward the left and had good boat speed to lead around the windward mark. The general theme of the left being favoured (with less tide) would persist throughout the day.

In the second race, Chloe Davis powered from the middle of the line, again toward the left, to lead from start to finish with Charlie Holland sailing consistently to take second and Roisin Epstein pulling through in third.

In the third race, Ruby Coster won the committee boat end of the line and sailed well but it was Josie Clark, who worked the boat toward the left side of the racecourse, who took the lead around the windward mark. A close match saw the lead change a few times on the second beat but Josie pulled ahead to take the win. Sean Di Salle worked the left hand side of the second beat well to finish third.

The final race had a similar theme with the left side of the beat being favoured. Again, Josie led the fleet chased hard by Ruby. The second beat saw the wind speed up to full hiking conditions and Ruby sailed well to pop out in the lead to win the race and finish in first place overall. Hugo Thomas, age 8, sailed extremely well to take third in the windiest conditions of the day.

Overall - with a different race winner for each race it was consistency that was the order of the day!

Regatta fleet results here

IOCA would like to say a huge thank you to the Royal Southern for the last minute bailout, to the PROs (especially Imogen who drove from Durham), to Richie who lent his committee boat, the jury (Nick and Sian), the non parent mark layer Ian. General thanks go to a raft of helpers from the RSYC and of course, huge thanks as ever to our class sponsors Gill Marine.

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