Over the Oct 25/26 weekend 14 young RPA sailors along with parents and siblings totalling a 50 plus entourage headed down to the ACT Optimist Championships to compete within 3 fleets totalling 80 boats.
The event is a highlight on the Opti schedule. Over the years it has often been the first travelling venue for new families. A chance to experience the RPA regatta community atmosphere of family friendly onshore fun mixed with the opportunity to race hard amongst the best young sailors in Australia. All families from previous years have gone onto stretch their wings becoming part of the broader travelling youth sailing circus that has seen them reach all corners of Australia and in some cases the world in 2014.
This year was no exception. Canberra turned on fantastic lake sailing conditions that rewarded speed and opportunistic decision making. The clubhouse situated on lawns that extend to within 50 metres of the race course made for the best spectator viewing platform imaginable and the hospitality of the Canberra Yacht Club once again was first class.
RPA sailors excelled in all 3 divisions.
Congratulations to Olivia Williams for taking second place overall in the Green Fleet division and special mention to Cooper Bellingham and Charley Hilderbrand who travelled to their first ‘away’ event placing 9th and 10th respectively.
Intermediate Optimist racing has become a very important part of a young sailors development from beginner to advanced racing. Since inception RPA has had a stranglehold on the division in NSW with all of our current open fleet sailors tasting success in intermediate events before making the transition to top tier open fleet. This time it was Morgan Wells who flew the flag fighting hard to top the podium ahead of very tough competition from QLD and ACT in a 37 boat strong field. Other RPA sailors included Cameron Whiteside 7th, Daniel Links 8th, Jonathan Tuite 14th, and travelling rookies Angus Crafter 22nd, Jack Hilderbrand 27th.
Open Racing is the business end of international junior sailing and our sailors are amongst the youngest in the fleet, all sailing exceptionally well and all showing they can find their way to the top of the fleet in races. With a little more time and ongoing hard work within the Objective Future Champions Program they will feature prominently for years to come. Alexander Bijkerk continues his march up the ranks finishing 3 races on the podium of the 25 strong fleet including the NSW state squad. This performance secured Alexander an impressive 6th place overall and it will not be long now until he finds himself at the front of the fleet! The remainder of our Open sailors performed very well with a few personal bests. Jake Sweeney had a blinder to finish 11th, Fletcher Walters had 4 top 10 scores to finish 16th, Bella Green was third female in 17th and Ollie Gordon set a personal best highest number of tacks in a single event to finish 19th.
The traditional RPA Saturday night dinner at the Kingston Pub was a highlight amongst the kids and parents. The ACT Optimist Championships is already highlighted in my must attend list of 2015. All RPA Optimist sailors should look forward to this regatta next year, it is first class family fun.