Two young West Sussex sailors will pit their wits against more than 250 of the continent’s best young sailors this summer after being selected to represent GB at the Magic Marine 2015 Optimist European Championships in Pwllheli, North Wales.
Chichester Yacht Club’s Arthur Fry, 14, and 13-year-old Cossie Lewis, who sails at Bosham SC, booked their places in the eight-strong British team for July’s Europeans after impressing in the selection trials at the 2012 Olympic sailing venue at Weymouth and Portland.
The Optimist junior sailing class is regarded as the breeding ground for future international sailing success with four-time Olympic champion and America’s Cup winner Sir Ben Ainslie a former Optimist sailor.
More than 90 per cent of sailors at the 2012 Games raced Optimists as juniors, including GB medalists Hannah Mills, Saskia Clark, Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson and Luke Patience.
The Magic Marine 2015 Optimist European Championships start on July 17, with five days of racing before the prizes are presented. Some 255 sailors from 37 nations, including from outside Europe, will be racing on Cardigan Bay.
Fry, who lives just outside Chichester and goes to Portsmouth Grammar School, can’t wait to go. “I’ve worked very hard over the past two years to be selected for the Europeans so it is great to have achieved my objective. It means even more this year as the event is being hosted in the UK and it will be such an honour to represent my country on home ‘turf’.
“Also I will be attending the event with other UK sailors who have become my friends as well as my rivals over my time in the Optimist class.
“This will be my last event before moving up into the Laser class so it will be a fantastic way to finish my Optimist career. My aim is to get a good position in gold fleet, which is the top third of boats in the final series, and set myself up for a confident move into the next class.”
Lewis said: “This is the biggest event I’ve been selected for to date. After last year’s nationals I sat down with my coach, Matt Rainback, and discussed my goal, which was to get to the Europeans.
“All my racing and training during the past few months has been focussed towards this goal, so I was thrilled to achieve it! I am really looking forward to the event, particularly sailing against such tough international competition.”
Fry has a strong sailing pedigree – his dad Christopher competed in some of the world’s biggest offshore events including two Sydney-to-Hobart races plus several Fastnets and Middle Sea races.
Fry was fifth (fourth boy) at the British Optimist nationals in 2012 while this year he finished sixth at the Australian Optimist nationals and an impressive ninth out of 538 at the International Palamos Optimist Trophy regatta in Spain.
Lewis competed at that event, taking 30th spot and has previously been selected for British teams to compete in major Optimist regattas in the Netherlands.
This will be the first time in the championship’s 32-year history that the Optimist Europeans have been held in GB and only the second time the event has been hosted on UK waters since Belfast in 1993.
The Swallow class at Itchenor Sailing Club regards the competition for the Norman Moore Trophy as one of the highlights of the year.
This was demonstrated by the size of the fleet and the closeness of the racing – 20 boats turned out and in the end just three points separated the top four.
Patience was the watchword on Saturday morning as winds were very light and tides strong. The race finally got going once the race management team were happy following much repositioning of start line and windward mark to give a fair race.
Kit Glover ,sailing Darter, mastered the shifty winds and recorded a win by a considerable distance. While the winds were a little more predictable in the afternoon, they could not be regarded as steady. Glover again scored a first place – this time just comfortably.
The wind on Sunday was more predictable but took a time to settle. Marengo, skippered by Carolyn Brigg, had been lying in second place overnight ready to pounce, and Brigg went up a gear to notch back-to-back wins thanks to savvy tactics and skilful boat handling.
Skua (Harry Roome) was equally consistent with two second places. With four of the five races to count, Marengo had virtually secured the trophy but sometimes there can be a final twist.
The final race was a rather more exciting harbour tour with fast spinnaker reaches in which Swallows excel. A mid-race wind shift made the second half more processional by which time Gwaihir had hit the front and despite Skua’s harrying was not to be troubled.
Marengo had an uncharacteristic mid-fleet result but remained safe at the top if only by the narrowest possible margin of a single point.
Results: 1 Marengo (Carolyn Brigg, Sue Glover, David Sloper); 2 Skua (Harry and Prue Roome, Helen Williams); 3 Darter (Kit Glover, Alice Hues, Connor Myant).
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