Australian Optimist National Championship - Hard sailing on day 1

From Left Optimist sailors Abbey Schwarz, Emily Patching and Sarah Philip - Australian Optimist National Championship 2012
Clare Murray
Australian Optimist National Championship 2012 got underway today, Monday 16th January, at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly.

Racing was abandoned after one race in each of the four open fleets. The breeze built throughout the morning reaching 20 to 25 knots around midday with gusts up to 30 knots recorded.

'It was pretty ordinary,' Chairman of the Jury Rob Ware said. 'It was raining and blowing with short steep seas; pretty hard sailing for little kids. The top end of the fleet handled it pretty well but at the bottom end of the fleet there were lots of capsizes. There were some good performances with kids getting their boats back up.'

Zach and Liam Beaven - Optimist Australian National Championship 2012
Clare Murray

There was a mixed reception to the conditions amongst competitors. Brothers Zach and Liam Beaven, 12 and 11-years-old respectively, had differing opinions about the day’s racing.

'It was really windy so it was hard to control the boat. But it was also really fun because we got to surf the waves,' Zach said.

'I capsized heaps of times,' said less enthusiastic Liam. 'I only got up a quarter of the first work then I came back in.'

In the Green Fleet, the Race Committee were monitoring the initial 15 to 18 knots recorded early morning until the decision was made around 1100 hours to keep the younger kids on shore when the breeze increased to 20 to 25 knots. The purpose of the Green Fleet is to introduce younger Opti sailors to competition and to have fun without the pressures of serious competition in the Open Fleet.

'I just want to commend the kids for their efforts out there today,' Suzy Jones from the Race Committee said. 'They were such troopers.'

With just one race completed Jim Colley of NSW and Alistair Young of Western Australia tied for first place overall. Racing continues tomorrow.

To view race results click here.

Event website