Optimist Tasmanian Championship - Young sailors show their skills

Optimists rounding the leeward mark on the River Derwent - Optimist Tasmanian championship
Tasmanian sailing has the young talent to put up a strong showing against more than 200 sailors from mainland states expected to contest the Australian championship for the International Optimist class on the Derwent next January. Principal race officer and chairman of Yachting Australia’s Youth Sailing Committee Nick Hutton made this positive comment after conducting the Tasmanian Championships, held at the Sandy Bay Yacht Club over the weekend.

A total of 58 youngsters from clubs around the State contested the regatta as a forerunner to the huge Optimist National Championship, which the off-the-beach club at Nutgrove Beach will conduct next summer.

Sailing in conditions that ranged from light breezes on Saturday to up to 24 knots yesterday, Hugo Hamilton (11) from the Sandy Bay club won the open championship, sailing an outstanding series that included four wins, two seconds and a third. Hugo is a son for former world Fireball champion Stewart Hamilton.

Second place went to the sole mainland sailor in the fleet, Max Paul from Middle Harbour Yacht Club in Sydney, who won two races. Max also comes from a strong sailing background, his father Mark Paul a legend in windsurfing, his mother Sarah Kenny representing Australia in windsurfers at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Third place went to another Sandy Bay sailor Hugh Hinkling, with Sabot sailor Sam King from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, placing fourth in his first regatta in the class.

Sam King (RYCT) and George Booth (TYC) rounding the leeward mark - Optimist Tasmanian championship

Chloe Fisher from the Tamar Yacht Club finished sixth overall and first girl in the 24 boat open fleet.

In the green fleet of 34 boats, Sandy Bay Sailing Club sailors filled the top three places overall, William Cooper winning from Chloe Abel, Alice Buchanan, Ethan Galbraith and Jack Alison.

'Conditions were tricky over the weekend, but these young sailors showed emerging skills in the sport and will provide a strong Tasmanian base when we host the Australian championship for the Optimists in January next year,' added Nick Hutton, who is a board member of Yachting Australia, as is Sarah Kenny.

Hutton said the Sandy Bay Sailing Club expected more than 200 entries for the Australian championships from all states and major yacht clubs which had adopted the Optimist as its junior class, including Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, Royal Perth Yacht Club, Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Sandringham Yacht Club and Adelaide Sailing Club.

Worldwide there are more than 160,000 Optimists officially registered and in more than 120 countries. At the Beijing Olympics, 85% of medal winning skippers began their sailing in Optimist dinghies.

The Lady Nelson sails past the Optimist fleet on Hobart’s River Derwent - Optimist Tasmanian championship