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Light winds forecast for Optimist End of Season Championship - Preview
The Volvo Gill Optimist End of Season Championship is taking place this weekend (11th - 12th October) at Rutland Sailing Club. The event marks the end of the summer sailing season in the UK for one of the largest competitive classes in the world. Around 300 of the country’s top young sailors are due to take part for a chance to win one of the most important titles in Optimist sailing: ‘End of Season Champion’.

This year the event will have a Team Volvo sailor attending; top British Finn sailor Mark Andrews, is a seasoned professional who acted as Sir Ben Ainslie’s training partner for London 2012 and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He will be on hand throughout the day on Saturday to offer young sailors advice on improving racing performance.

Mark commented, “I started sailing at twelve years old when my family moved to Scotland. By then I was already too big to sail Optimists, so I learned in a Topper, though I do remember when the Optimist National Championships came to Largs that same year. Although I didn’t compete, it was a great event with so many sailors. I am looking forward to attending another Optimist Championship event and helping out passing on a few I have learned since then.

Many of my competitors and friends on the British Sailing Tean started sailing in the Optimist class. It provides a great opportunity for young sailors to develop the skills needed to successfully compete to a high level and for some will even lead to Olympic careers.”

Seventy percent of sailors at the London 2012 Olympics started sailing in the Optimist class; including four time Olympic champion, Sir Ben Ainslie, so the chances are, this event will hold a future sailing star. Competitors come from far and wide to compete at the Optimist events; however three local sailors competing are all members of Rutland sailing club so will not have to travel too far. Cary Attwell, Isabel Leetch and Annabel Turnbull will have the home water advantage in the Regatta Fleet.

Ones to watch include top young female sailors Vita Heathcote, 13 (Royal Lymington Yacht Club) and Alexandra Schonrock, 12, (Parkstone Yacht Club). Vita won this year’s Volvo Gill Optimist National Champion title in the Senior Fleet (Main) in Weymouth, her second consecutive national title, having won the 2013 National Junior Fleet Championships in Largs while Alexandra secured the ‘Junior’ fleet title at the same event.

The weekend competition is final annual event of the year that Volvo and Gill jointly sponsor and the last opportunity for young Optimist sailors aged between 8 and 15 to change their rankings for next season, so the pressure is on.

The Optimist class is one of the most popular starter boats and provides young sailors with the opportunity to learn and develop their sailing skills, helping them on their sailing journey.

For full results and more information, visit the official event website: http://www.optimistsailing.org.uk.

All results are provisional and subject to possible protest.

Photo : © Martin Allen Photography
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