by Tim Edwards
The 2016 Optimist Nationals were held at Georges River 16ft Sailing Club between 2nd – 9th January attracting 250 Optimist competitors across the Green, Intermediate and Open fleet.
An intense east coast low created trying conditions in the first 3 days of the regatta bringing winds of over 20 knots and constant torrential rain to such an extent that navigating around the course was a challenge, at one moment only a ribs spotlights made the top mark visible to sailors.
Nineteen sailors made the journey from Queensland with their support crew of 40 parents and siblings. In the green fleet we had Jarrod Jones (3rd place), Marcel Klatsmanyi (4TH place), David Daley (8th), and Torin Mitchell ( 10th place). Well done to all the green fleeters for competing in their first nationals in the very challenging conditions.
In intermediate fleet 6 sailors, also competed in their first Nationals. 83 entries were divided into Gold and silver fleets after 2 qualifying days and all our sailors placed very well. In Gold finals intermediate, Kyle Young placed 17th , Kate Baisden placed 19th, Jasmin Young 24th. In intermediate silver finals, Matt Hattrick placed 6th, Adelaide Pullen 22nd and Ben Lincoln 35th.
The Open fleet, comprising of 124 competitors, sailed in far more challenging conditions with the course set further out in Botany Bay underneath the Sydney airport runway. The sailors were pushed to the limit with one day having to sail around the course in complete white out. In fact, one top sailor was even asking the way to the top mark.
Otto Henry from NSW was a worthy winner, becoming National Champion for a second time.
Nine QLD sailors attended with 7 of the sailors being in the Queensland Sailing Team. All the sailors raced hard over the 13 race series fighting for a position to make it into the Australian Optimist Team. Seven sailors made the Gold Fleet finals with two, Hamish Thorne and Ashleigh Swaddling both successfully making it into the Australian Optimist Sailing Team. Hamish narrowly missed making the World Team with a final result of 12th and Ashleigh closely following in 14th position. She also was the top Australian girl. We wish them both well as they travel to Sri Lanka this year for the Asian Optimist Championships.
Aidan Gummow finished 20th just being pipped at the post for a position in the Australian Optimist Team . What a great sailing regatta he had!!! Blake Wilson was also was in the top 25 finishing 21st. He also had a great regatta!!
Zachary was 42nd and Riley came 49th in the Gold Fleet.
In the Silver Open Fleet, Charlie came 11th. Sam Martland was 41st and Tarquin Clarke 59th, both did fantastic for their first Nationals.