447 young sailors

The UK Optimist National Championships are set to be the biggest ever

Thursday August 7th 2008, Author: Gail Willows, Location: United Kingdom
This year’s Volvo Musto Optimist UK National Championships will see a record entry of 447 young sailors competing at the annual event. The event has shown year on year growth; only ten years ago the Optimist entry level was just 250 competitors. This year exceeds 2007’s entry figures by over 50, further confirming the Optimist class reputation as the most popular starter boat for young sailors around the world.

“It’s amazing how the Optimist events have increased in popularity year on year, and this year we have taken a further step with the introduction of the regatta starter fleet, aimed at less experienced sailors aged under 8," explained Ben Cooper, International Optimist Class Association, UK Chairman. "Additionally the event has such a great relaxed family feel, which can be enjoyed by everyone. Many families use this event to make up part of their annual summer holiday.”

Pwllheli Sailing Club in North Wales will be the proud host for this year’s event taking place from 9-15 August 2008. With the large number of sailors taking part this year, the weeks racing as in previous years, is split into four groups; the two main championship fleets for seniors, aged 13 to 15, and juniors, aged 8-12; the regatta fleet for less experienced racers, and the regatta starter fleet for the youngest entrants. For family members attending the event, alongside watching the action on the water, there will be a variety of games and activities for all ages.

“The most important aspect of the event is allowing kids to have fun in a safe environment, but at the same time providing a structured high level competition at the top end of the fleet. Events like the Volvo Musto Championships encourage young sailors to compete and get involved in a racing environment; this can only help create British Olympic Sailing hopefuls of the future”. says Ben Cooper, International Optimist Class Association, UK Chairman."

The Optimist is the largest youth class in the UK and has over 150,000 young sailors competing across the globe. The 2.3 meter boat has helped groom some of the UK’s great sailing names.

It will be a special week for sailing in the UK with British sailors competing for gold in the Olympic Games in China. Double Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie and Olympic silver medallist Nick Rogers are two of these sailor, they both have strong links with the Optimist Class, winning the Optimist national as youngsters in 1992 and 1991 respectively.

“The Optimist Nationals was the first major event I ever won and it really was a stepping stone through to the RYA National Youth Programme and to the Olympics. It is great to see the event still growing in popularity and size,” explained Nick Rogers, Team GBR 470 representative, Beijing Olympics.

Whilst concentrating on their own competitive sailing, the young Optimist sailors will be watching the sailing in Beijing closely, giving the young sailors inspiration to develop into future British Olympic stars.
Amongst the favourites to be crowned Volvo Musto Optimist National Champion this year will be those who have recently returned from the Optimist European Championships (26 June – 6 July) held at Lake Garda, Italy and the Optimist World Championships (14-25 July) held in Cezme, Turkey.

Sailors who should be in contention in the Senior Fleet include World Championship Team members Jamie Diamond (Warsash) and Matt Wallis (Spinnaker), plus European Team Members Annabel Vose (Royal Southern), Jess Lavery (Emsworth), Tim Gratton (Hayling Island), Ed Riley (Warsash) and Tomas Pain (Cardiff Bay); Zoe Parkinson, third at the Inland Championships, could also challenge.

In the Junior Fleet things will be interesting too. European Team Member Scott Wallis (Spinnaker) will face tough competition from Josh Sparks (Royal Lymington) and Matthew Whitfield (Cardiff Bay) plus Oliver and Freddie Grogono (St Mawes) who have just returned to the UK with their parents from Dubai.

Volvo Car UK and Musto are proud of their ongoing relationship with the International Optimist Class, and are pleased to announce their continued support of the Class in the UK for a further three years.

Volvo and Musto’s sponsorship of the Optimist class consists of three big Championships in the yearly racing calendar: The Volvo Musto Inland Championships 17-18 May 2008, at Grafham Water Sailing Club; the Volvo Musto National Championships 28 July - 2 August 2008, at Pwllheli Sailing Club, Wales; and finally the Volvo Musto End of Season Championships 13-14 October 2008, at Rutland Sailing Club.

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