I recently competed in the British Optimist Nationals, sponsored by Gill and Volvo. I was hoping the day races were going to live up to the windy forecast and they definitely did. I arrived at the Nationals on Saturday before going out for a short sail due to a lack of wind. Since my parents were not at the event, I stayed with my friend Haydn and his awesome family, the Sewell’s. They must be my lucky family since I stayed with them last year!


Sunday was the first day of racing, and we were racing in roughly 20kts. Due to a bad tactical decision on the second beat I picked up a 3rd which would soon turn out to be my discard! In the second and final race of the day I had an intense race against a Spanish competitor, however I managed to win the race which put me third overall. A solid day.

Bringing on Monday the wind was slightly lighter and 4 races made for a real intense day. Altogether I scored 2,1,2,2 which put me into first overall and concluded the qualifying series. I had a one point lead due to extremely good sailing by my competitors.

Tuesday was the first day of the gold fleet, this was where the races became intense. I wasn’t happy with my first race, scoring a 9 which should have been much higher. I had a bad start and then was out of phase with the wind. However I managed to round off the day with an 8 point lead. Due to extreme winds the next two days of racing were cancelled. This gave me a good chance to relax and go to the cinema with friends.

Friday was the last day of racing and with three races scheduled it was all to play for. My mum came down and stayed Thursday night since she wanted to see how the last day unfolded. In the first race, I kept my nerve and managed to hold off Duncan from Hong Kong, to win the first race. In the next race despite having a bad start I played the shifts well and rounded the top mark in 2nd. I sailed a very good 2nd beat and won the race. This meant I was the winner of the event with a race to spare. For the last race, I must have been too eager because unfortunately I picked up a black flag…

Throughout the week I wore the Gill Thermoskin Suit and Top, combined with the Hydrophobe Leggings and Top. This kept me extremely warm and the kit dried very quickly. I would recommend this kit for all the windy and wet conditions that Britain can throw at you all year round. Thanks to my sponsors Gill, Dinghy Rope and HD Sails for supporting my sailing. Also thanks to my coaches Sarah and Nick for helping me throughout the years. Again, thanks to the RYA and IOCA for the opportunities they provide in sailing.

It is a great feeling to win the Nationals two years running, and to win the junior fleet a year before. I’ll look forward to updating my blog with all my challenges as I transition into a 420.