Some of the regions best Optimist sailors travelled to Burnham on Crouch last weekend to take part in the annual Burnham Optimist Open hosted by the Corinthian Otters and Burnham Sailing Club. The coveted prize is the IOCA Eastern Area Championship.
Conditions were challenging. On Saturday 16th the wind was in the south with a force 6 gusting 7. Despite these conditions our PRO was able to complete two races for the start of a 7 series event. The young competitors showed extraordinary talent and commitment to battle it out in some of the worst conditions that some of the younger sailors are likely to experience (or have experienced to date). Club racing was cancelled and so it was a demonstration of their skill that these guys ventured out to battle the elements.
On the Saturday, Bethan Matthew was 1st in the first race and Colette Bacon 1st in the second race leaving them tying for pole position overnight. Special mention has to go to Ben Hutton Penman who despite falling out of his boat in the first race achieved a 4th in the second race. Matt Braybrook showed his form in the strong winds getting his best result over the weekend with a 3rd in the fist race.
Despite optimistic weather forecasts the conditions did not improve. Regatta fleet sailing was cancelled and replaced with a game of rounders in the dinghy park. Great fun had by all including some of the parents!
By Sunday the wind had moderated sufficiently to allow racing in the morning and afternoon for both Main and Regatta Fleets. The racing was excellent and very close. William Taylor dominated the Regatta Fleet with a bullet in all 5 races.
Special mention goes to Sophie Johnson who was first girl in the Regatta Fleet and with two 2nd places revealed her real potential in years to come. Positions changed constantly throughout the day. The fleet showed real promise with some excellent starts in challenging tidal conditions.
In the Main Fleet Alistair Grant’s experience (last year’s winner) secured four 1st’s and a 3rd. Unfortunately not having sailed on the Saturday he carried a DNS which placed him 3rd overall but it was great to have Alistair down and thanks to his continued support of the event. We wish him all the best for this season. Hannah Tucker (“H”) came to form on the Sunday with a 1st in the penultimate race. Despite a nasty bang on the head for Colette Bacon counting a 1st and three 2nd’s a 3rd and 4th it was enough to pip Bethan Matthew to the post to win the event overall. Each and every one of the sailors sailed brilliantly and beyond I suspect many of their own expectations given the conditions. So a big well done to you all!
Overall results were as follows:
1st Colette Bacon
2nd Bethan Matthew
3rd Alistair Grant
4th Hannah Tucker
5th Deborah Hughes
1st William Taylor
2nd Josh Bellchambers
3rd Sophie Johnson
4th Luke Beuvinc
5th Freddie Pitcher
There is no doubt we made the best of a difficult weekend and it was great to see the sailors rise to the challenge and enjoy the event as much as they did.