With over 260 sailors from nine countries, the 2017 Gill Australian and Open Optimist Championships held at Largs Bay Sailing Club in South Australia was a huge success. The strong international fleet of 33 sailors from Europe, Asia, the Pacific, New Zealand and America made this one of most competitive fleets seen in Australia and has really lifted the international profile of Optimist sailing in the region. In the Open Fleet international sailors took the honours with Malaysian and Singapore taking out the first three places. Jack Fergusson (NSW), Quinn Auricht (SA) and Fletcher Walters (NSW) took out the podium places for the Australian titles. In addition, Mina Ferguson took out first female which was an outstanding result. The fact that international sailors filled 6 of the top 10 places provides an indication of the calibre of overseas sailors now targeting the OptiAUS Nationals. The word is that there will be even more internationals next year in Queensland, we look forward to the competition. Congratulations to all those sailors that made representative teams
The Intermediate fleet was won by Joel Beashel (NSW) with Oscar Green (NSW) and Darcy Conry (Sth Aust) completing the podium places, and Ava Whitten being the first female. NSW also took out first place and first female in the Green Fleet with Stella Hurley narrowly prevailing over Fraser Baker (South Aust) by one point, and Archie Kretschmer (South Aust) completing the podium places.
From a gender view point it was very encouraging to see the number of girls competing in the green fleet (30 female competitors out of the 52 entries), which demonstrates that club, state and national gender programs are starting to show results.
On-land the family friendly nature of the Largs Bay Sailing Club made for a relaxed environment. In this regard I’d like to thank both the OptiAUS committee and Largs Bay team along with the numerous volunteers, parents, officials and coaches that made the event so successful. Collectively, it is clear that the event provided a great learning experience for all sailors and an opportunity to make new friends from interstate and overseas.
We look forward to meeting everyone again at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Queensland 3-10 January.
Happy sailing. Chris Auricht, President, OptiAUS.