Europeans and Nationals 2015
I qualified for the 2015 europeans team this year after sailing at the Optimist team selection trials, the selections is an invite only event in which the top 90 GBR optimist sailors compete to qualify for the World’s and European GBR teams.
The top 5 at the event are selected to sail at the Optimist world’s the next 8 are then selected for the GBR European team, I had a great event and was very close to being selected for the world’s team after 9 races, the final day was quite light and I dropped to 10th overall and 6th girl which meant I had qualified for the Euros.
The event took place in Pwllheli, North Wales from the 17th to the 24th of July. I got to Pwllheli after a long drive and an early start on the Thursday to go through measurement with the rest of my team. Measurement took up most of the day and everything was fine apart from having to colour corners of sail numbers and one of our team, Jamie, having to get a new sail in because his was 1mm out. I went out that day just to get out in the boat to make sure everything was running smoothly.
For the Europeans you stay with the team in accommodation provided with your coach and a house mum which happened to be Amy (the coach, Tom’s, girlfriend.) We had dinner and then would hang around with the team, going to the beach or playing with a rugby ball.
The next day was practice race day. It was windy so we went out and checked out the course and the start line to familiarise ourselves, sailed upwind and then we decided to go in. That day we also had opening ceremony so we were all in our team kit and came in last because we were the host nation. The Welsh national anthem was played and speeches were said to open the championships.
The next day was our rest day and we ended up going wake boarding, which was really good fun and it got us out of the boat park!
The first day of the event started with wind between 15 and 17 knots and I got a good set of results with a 13, 3 and 5. Girls and boys race separately and this was the first day of qualifying before being split into gold and silver fleets.
The following day we went out to the race course. My flight was first start. It was about 23 knots with large waves, because the wind was coming from the SW. The visibility was also very poor to the extent of not seeing the windward mark. My fleet got to the windward mark and I was in 9th position when it got abandoned when we got to the reach. On the way in because of the size of the waves reaching was so much fun! We didn’t race for the rest of the day.
The next day was slightly windier than the day before and my results dropped a bit from the first day. I got a 23, 13 and 20. This was the last day of qualifying so it meant I had got into gold fleet. That was my main goal at the start of the event.
The next day proved to be a lot harder than the previous days and it was considerably lighter as well. I got a 15, 42 and 47 which was later discarded. The final day we only did one race to complete the series and it wasn’t a great result but I was happy because I learnt a lot through the whole event and it was an amazing experience!
At the end of the Europeans I finished 31st and 26th girl in Europe.
I had 2 days rest between the end of the Europeans and the nationals and then it was the start of my final Optimist event. The first day I was really eager to sail but it got abandoned due to poor visibility.
The second day started and it was windy, however the waves were nowhere near the size they were at the Europeans. I got results: 19, 17 and 21 which was consistent!
The third day of the event was the last day of qualifying and there was a nice wind of around 16 knots. I got results of: 6, 16, 16 and a 2nd which was a really good end to the day. I got into gold fleet and it meant the next day there would be a lay day. That was really nice because I could have a lay in for once at an oppy event.
We had our lay day and were back in action on the Thursday. It was pretty light and there were a lot of big shifts making it very hard and unpredictable. That day I had results at the bottom, middle and top of the fleet. Results were as follows: 63, 2, 32 and 36th.
The last day of the nationals was also my last ever day in the optimist, which was sad but mostly happy because I could move into a bigger boat! In the first race of the day I got a 19th and in my final race I got a 9th with a capsize after the finish! The whole way in we were chunking water at one another and then carried on onshore. Once we were on the way in my friends told me that I could be 1st British girl, which had never occurred to me before that point!
Indeed I was 1st British Girl. I finished 13th overall, 3rd British Senior Helm and 3rd Girl. I had never been up that much at prize giving before! It was good that I ended it that way as I left the class on a high!
I met so many good friends within the optimist class that are moving on with me in 420’s or other youth classes. I loved my time in the optimist meeting new people and competing abroad the opportunities have been incredible. Now there is a fresh start where I can begin to learn a lot more about sailing and I’m sure I will get loads of new experiences!