A total of 31 Optimists arrived at the club on Saturday for a one day open meeting. Boats came from as far as Hayling Island on the South coast to the North Norfolk coast so there was a healthy turn out, especially given our weekend clashed with an IOCA International event. The 31 boats were split over Main fleet racers, a regatta fleet using the same course but with their own start, and ten 'Mini Racers' speeding up and down the river in front of the club too.
Race and Regatta Report
It was near perfect conditions for all involved with the sun shining and a reasonable 10 to 15 knots of breeze. All the boats launched quickly and efficiently and headed to the race area. It was a nonstop afternoon with five races scheduled. The kids were heard saying when they got ashore, 'It was great but I didn't get a chance to eat my snacks between races!' so it was just as well we had organised a bowl of pasta for all the competitors when they came ashore!
The racing proved to be very close. East Coast and top British sailor Will Pank, from NBYC, won the event with four firsts and a second. Will was closely followed by Terry Hacker from Hunts Sailing Club and Henry Means from NBYC was third.
The Regatta fleet was fantastic to watch with massive improvements being made. For the first start, they all had to be encouraged up to the line, but the following four starts saw them all tussling for poll position and chasing the main fleet around the course. It was a close battle for the Podium but was won by Ralph Surguy with Ethan Hague second and Nathan Flynn third.
Look out next year, I reckon we could see 40 boats!
Mini Racers Report
Ten Mini Racers entered the Open Meeting this year. After a briefing and some tacking practice on the famous “tacking machine” ashore, the sailors tallied and launched.
The conditions were slightly challenging, so the sailing kicked off with a warm-up using just three boats and switching over sailors from RIBs on the water.
It was clear that everyone was quite capable of dealing with the gusts and so all went back ashore for a break, snack and some extra clothes.
Next up was some seamanship practice in the form a competition to see who could collect the most plastic balls. With around 200 balls bobbing about in the Crouch this became an intense battle with the Mini Racers striving to find the most effective way to pick them up. In the end, the most reliable method proved to be a controlled speed approach from leeward, although some sailors did have surprisingly good fortune approaching at full tilt on a broad reach. They must have very good hand-eye coordination!
After the exhausting ball game, it was time to hone these skills with practice coming alongside the RIB. Any sailor who could bring their boat to stop next to the RIB was rewarded with a Haribo! After half an hour all the sailors had more or less mastered this and so that meant everyone was suitably refreshed and ready for the main event - the Big Race Back to the Club Pontoon.
The start line was quite informal about a quarter of a mile directly downwind of the club. This was a great chance for the sailors to practise their upwind sailing skills and they didn’t disappoint, with some excellent progress made by everyone.
After sailing, pasta awaited ashore followed by joining the main fleets for some crabbing off the pontoon - a great way to round off the day.
During the event it was noted that everyone listened very carefully at the briefings and also tried very hard on the water. Well done to all the sailors!
Jamie Mears, Caryn Cook & Victor Brellisford