Eight Bermuda Optimist sailors from RBYC, RHADC and Sandy’s Boat Club just finished competing in the British Optimist Championships in Pwllheli, North Wales. The 8 sailors joined 427 Optimist sailors from around the World for an exciting week of racing in varied and sometimes wild sailing conditions.
The Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association has for sometime throughout 2012 encouraged the developing Bermuda sailors to attend the British Championships, this major event caters for all levels of ability and all age groups; the more experienced sailors compete in the Main Championship Fleets which are split Senior (aged 13-15) and Junior (under 13).
Matilda Nicholls approaches the windward mark in the final race in 5th position. Photo by Peter Newton:
The developing sailors are split into 3 Regatta Fleets; Mini-Racers for the least experiences, Regatta Coaching for those still seeking coaching while racing and Regatta Racing for sailors good enough to race all day, but not old enough to sail in more unprotected waters.
RBYC Sailing Academy’s Director of Sailing Tom Herbert-Evans accompanied 7 of the sailors for the week, he used his local contacts to source charter boats and a coach boat at extremely competitive prices that made the whole regatta that much more affordable for the young sailors.
Mr Herbert-Evans said: ”We initially had 11 Bermuda Opti sailors entered for this event, it was great that 8 came this year and it is without doubt all the sailors had a fabulous week in terms of gaining experience and meeting new friends. We brought a real cross section of our sailors and we had sailors competing in every fleet. This was such a success I am certain we will aim for many more to attend the 2013 British Championships in Largs, Scotland.”
The variable conditions led to one and a half days of racing being missed, a major low pressure system sitting over Ireland and North Wales meant for heavy winds and lots of rain, at time visibility was very poor. Fresh from his success of 3rd Place in the Irish Championships, Bermuda’s National Champion 15 year old Rory Caslin (RHADC) was the senior sailor from Bermuda, he had a solid week to finish 28th in the Senior Fleet, he was joined by 13 year old Alice Reeves (RBYC), competing in her first Regatta outside the Americas. Alice competed well and enjoyed sailing in the stronger winds and big waves at the end of the week. Alice finished a commendable 91st in the 140 strong Senior Fleet.
The 172 boat Junior Fleet was the largest in the event, this was split into Gold and Silver Fleets halfway through the week, with both the Bermuda sailors qualified for the Gold Fleet. A top ten finish in the Practice Race for 10 year old Matilda Nicholls (RBYC & SBC) was a good confidence boost ahead of the main event, fresh from her success at the UK East Coast Regatta in Aldeburgh it was a great way to start the week. Camille Chin-Gurrett (RBYC) also competing in her first regatta outside the Americas was nervous at the start of the week, but soon found she could compete very well in the large international class.
Unfortunately Matilda was involved in a controversial incident in the 2nd race of the Championship which involved a Redress Hearing with the International Jury, the Jury found fault with the Race Committee’s procedures and amendments were made for the rest of the week, however the Bermuda sailor did not get her top 5 result reinstated.
However Matilda finished the week on a high with a 5th place finish in the Gold Fleet in the windiest race of the event, this gave her an overall finish of 22nd, she was 4th in her age group and 7th female. Camille was already thrilled to have qualified in the Gold Fleet with a 14th place finish in the final qualifier race and finished the week 80th overall.
The Regatta Fleets had a challenging week given the weather conditions, but the event organisers coped admirably by laying on several fun events when the conditions were harsh. Grace Reeves (10) (RBYC) and Flo Nicholls (9) (RBYC & SBC) had a great week in the 51 boat Racing Fleet, Grace favoured the lighter winds and finished the week 6th, Flo preferred the heavier winds to end the week 5th. The amount of fun had both on and off the water left these sailors wanting more, they will certainly be back next year.
Luc Madeiros (11) (RBYC) was the sole Bermuda sailor in the 41 boat Coaching Fleet, competing in his first event outside Bermuda he enjoyed some intense coaching sessions in the mornings, followed by racing in the afternoons, he ended the week on a spectacular high with a 2nd place finish. Younger brother Ethan Madeiros (8th) (RBYC) sailed with the Mini-racers all week, the extremely challenging weather made it a tough week for concluding races, but a lot of coaching sessions took place afloat and Ethan had a spectacular week meeting new friends and enjoying his first experience of a regatta.
RBYC Sailing Director Mr Herbert-Evans said “I am thrilled with the much improved sailing by the RBYC sailors, theses were bigger waves than most have seen before and all the practice in Bermuda in July has clearly helped our sailors. We are working hard to develope a significant pod of young sailors and the future of Optimist sailing at RBYC Sailing Academy looks very strong.
“I was particularly trilled to witness Luc and Ethan Madeiros doing so well at their first overseas regatta, a great performance by Matilda Nicholls who finished 4th in her age group after a difficult start to the week. Alice and Grace Reeves sailed a plucky week and achieved some excellent results, Camille surprised us all with her stunning last qualifying race to get into the Gold Fleet. This all bodes very well for next year when we hope to bring a stronger team to the British Nationals.
“We start the Autumn Series in September and we look forward to hearing all the stories and experiences of the may sailors who have travelled far and wide this summer to compete. The busy Autumn calendar includes the Junior Gold Cup (Oct), the Bermuda National Championships (Nov) and we are planning on sending a big Team to the Orange Bowl in December. Bermuda Optimist sailing is showing all the right signs of getting back on the map in terms of International Regattas, at RBYC we are thrilled to be working with so many talented young sailors that a few years from now will hopefully be competing at the major IODA Regattas.”
- International Parental Alienation Awareness Day
- Performing Arts Summer Camp For Kids
- Child Development Programme To Host Lecture
- Coalition: ‘Corporal Punishment Is Not Effective’
- Free Speech & Language Screening For Children
- Upcoming: Summer Camp Fair