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Gill Optimist Spring Championships at Draycote Water Sailing Club

by IOCA (UK) 1 Apr 20:07 BST 16-17 March 2024

The Spring Championships held at Draycote Water over the weekend of 16th & 17th March were a thrilling display of competitive sailing, featuring three fleets: the Main fleet, Racing Regatta fleet, and a newly introduced Coached Regatta fleet.

Despite the initial lack of wind, the combination of sunny skies and the gentle breeze created an idyllic setting for a day of sailing. With the sun making an appearance for what seemed like the first time in months the sailors embraced the light conditions with enthusiasm, and the wind filled in, allowing the scheduled races to take place.

Coached Regatta Fleet

The Coached Regatta fleet, designed for younger sailors, experienced two days of ideal sailing conditions under the guidance of top coach Steve Irish. The Optimist class normally has this fleet at their Nationals, so it was trialled, with great success at the Springs. Steve Irish had the sailors using the onshore simulator and on the water on the Saturday. All the sailors showcased their skills and determination throughout the event, culminating in an exhilarating final day of racing on the Sunday afternoon where winds reached 20 knots, adding an extra layer of excitement to the competition.

As the sailors had been asking when they would be allowed to capsize, this sudden increase in pressure made many of their wishes come true.

The winners on the podium for the Coached Regatta fleet were:

1st Sebastian Richardson
2nd Clemency Renard
3rd Blaise Kemp

Full results here.

Racing Regatta Fleet

The Racing Regatta fleet saw eight races held over the weekend, with tight racing and fierce competition among the participants, demonstrating their dedication and talent on the water. This fleet was ably led by Race Officer Imogen Gibb with Charlotte Cooper assisting, not only on the water but also sitting on the jury with Steve Watson.

The winners were:

1st Zoe Green
2nd Theodore Fox
3rd Charlotte Davis

Full results here.

Main Fleet

With a staggering 122 boats, the main fleet was divided into four groups to accommodate the large number of participants. The Race Officer and IOCA President, David Campell-James, did a great job and the number of recalls was acceptable for the first event of the season for many of our sailors. The Springs is the Selections for the Junior Irish Nationals Team, a great event our younger sailors to go to and to represent their country. The conditions over the weekend were ideal to select this team. It was also lovely to see so many Irish Optimists making the trip over the Irish Sea to join in with our racing.

The three races held on the Saturday were held in 5-6 knots and meant everyone raced against each other. Sunday dawned not quite so bright, the rain returned although it didn't stay long and as soon as the sailors launched it cleared. The predicted wind, once the rain went, unfortunately didn't materialise and the wind for the three races was around 8 knots, until the last downwind leg when the 18-20 knots that had been hoped for materialised.

A new initiative trialled in this fleet was the introduction of a class coach. Dan Burns, an experienced Optimist coach, was on the water for all the sailors to ask questions, he briefed and debriefed all the sailors on shore and it was felt by all to be a resounding success.

Over the course of the weekend, six races were completed, with the final results reflecting the competitiveness and skill of the sailors. Among the main fleet, the top performers emerged with impressive consistency and determination. The racing was closely contested, with competitors pushing themselves to their limits to secure favourable positions in each race.

The podium winners for the Main fleet were:

1st Jonny Rogers
2nd Eliana Edwards (first girl)
3rd Maeve Donagh (first international sailor)
4th Charlie Holland (first junior)
5th Leo Gosling

Full results here.

The Spring Championships at Draycote Water proved to be a resounding success, as always Dave Rowe and his team put on a great event for us, allowing the sailors to showcase their sailing prowess and determination across the various fleets. The addition of the Coached Regatta fleet provided younger sailors with invaluable guidance and support, enhancing their experience on the water. Congratulations to all the participants, winners, and organisers for making the event a memorable and enjoyable one.

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