Optimist Travels 2016: Belgium, France and Scotland!
This summer has been amazingly busy, lots of sailing which has been fun!!
A good place to start is the Optimist Selection trials in Weymouth. At this event the top 80 sailors are invited and compete for 4 days to win a place on one of 4 teams: Worlds, Europeans, French Nationals and Flanders. This is a very tough event, with long days and no coaches on the water, this was the first time I had been to the selections and it was tough! I finished 25th out of 80 boats which meant I had qualified for the Flanders team, I was very excited.
So early July I travelled to Belgium to compete in the Nieuwpoort Regatta as part of the RYA/IOCA Flanders Team. This is a big Youth Week, other classes include 420s, Cadets, Europes, Lasers and RS500s. I was part of a team of 16 selected sailors. It was a great event, the waves in the North Sea are huge, we had every kind of weather you can imagine, from no wind (so we played volleyball on the beach instead) to 25knots+, the competition was fierce. I had a really good event, qualifying for gold fleet and finishing 12th out of the 110 boats entered.
Next was a week in Loctudy, staying with friends and taking part in the French Optimist Nationals. This was a very relaxed event, no racing before 2pm and BBQs on the beach every night! The highlight was a mass start race on the Wednesday when all the sailors start at the same time, and we race a lap around the bay, this meant over 400 optimists on one start line. This was a brilliant race and I finished 12th out of the 400ish boats! The weather was amazing and it was brilliant to finally get to sail in shorts and T-shirt, all I needed was my Rooster buoyancy aid!
After France it was back home for a couple of days and then up to Scotland for our own Nationals. Largs is beautiful and the weather was very kind to us, only one day of rain and the rest was sunshine, but I was back into all my favorite sailing gear; Rooster Race Skin (love it), hikers and sailing gloves. I had a great Nationals and finished 18th in Senior Main fleet, and 11th GBR boat. Stephanie (my sister) also took part at this one in the coached Regatta fleet, she loved the coaching and the fun on the water.
Over the rest of the Summer holidays I also sailed a Feva during Lymington Youth Week with a friend and we also had a family holiday on our Konsort, there are only 6 weeks in the school summer holidays but I sailed for 5 of them!
Since the start of September I have already competed at the Burghfield Open Meeting and the Late Summer Championships at Hayling Island (finished 16th out of 170 boats). The Late Summer was a very memorable event for all the oppie sailors, Saturday was very windy and the sail back to the club, over Hayling Bar in huge waves and 30knot gusts was an experience!
I have also just come back from a weekend of Squad training at Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy. Barts Bash was being held that weekend, and we all got to take part in the race alongside Giles Scott, Saskia Clarke and Ben Cornish. Luke Patience also joined in with our training in an Oppie!
Mum and Dad have just bought me a laser and I hope to spend some time sailing it, as well as my Oppie, a very busy Winter ahead!!
Sam de la Feuillade