2009 South Island Optimist Champs

The Queen Charlotte Yacht Club recently had one of its biggest events on record as it was host to a three day regatta concluding on 1 March 2009. 

It featured the South Island Optimist Championships, the new Inter-Islander Optimist Challenge, as well as co-hosting the NZ Splash National Championship.The regatta venue at Picton (located at the heart of Picton’s busy tourism centre) was unique.  The club is situated in a prime spot located at Shelly Beach, amongst a stunning Marina, opposite the Cook Strait Ferry Terminal with fabulous views out to Queen Charlotte Sound.   

The Optimist open fleet racing was held on open water on Queen Charlotte Sound approximately 3km from the club, south of Lochmara Bay, a 12 race series which attracted a strong fleet of 87 competitors being made up of 50 sailors from the North Island and 37 from the South.  The Optimist green fleet racing was held outside the club with great viewing enjoyed by parents, supporters and tourists alike, an 8 race series enjoyed by 40 sailors mostly from Worser Bay and the South Island.
The welcome and hospitality was wonderful in true Marlborough style setting the scene for a great regatta under the direction of Rob and Carolyn Burn who obviously have put their heart and soles into this event.  The race management and support team was also top class, having run the event impeccably without a hitch, under the direction and experience of Napier’s prized asset, Gerald Martin.  
The open fleet regatta got underway on Friday in generally light conditions, with a shifty north easterly wind which challenged most sailors.  Early starting and undesirable general recalls were quickly ironed out by Gerald, not hesitating to switch from a code flag Z to Black early in the regatta, a necessity to get through the tight racing schedule.  The racing was very competitive and there were opportunities for big gains in picking the smallest of wind shifts and being at the right location at the right time avoiding wind pockets which seemed to result in a big spread in the fleet during some races.  Friday racing concluded with 3 open fleet races completed with the 4th race being abandoned for the day due to the shifty conditions. On Saturday, the north easterly wind which varied in strength from 8 to 15+ knots came in early amongst steady rain, enabling 4 open fleet races to be completed again, challenging most sailors in varying, shifty, wet and cool conditions.Sunday proved to be a most pleasant day which provided sailors with a generally warm and light breeze from the north, which was again shifty tending to the northwest and generally gaining strength as the afternoon sailing progressed.  4 open fleet races were sailed on Sunday allowing sailor’s two worst scores to be dropped, with racing concluding one race short of the 12 races scheduled.  The shifty conditions appeared be evident on the score board where consistency was hard to achieve resulting in most sailors having some good and bad races. 

Jayvee Buchanan from Charteris Bay won the open fleet championship probably sailing most consistently for the regatta.  Jayvee was followed closely by Olivia MacKay from Napier (2nd place) who was in turn followed by Keith Inglis representing Lake Taupo, (3rd place). Taylor Burn representing Queen Charlotte came in strongly on his home waters in 4th place, followed by Trent Rippey from Tauranga (5th place).  Naomi Mannering from Napier achieved 6th place. Other sailors who were able to hold a top 10 position included Markus Somerville from Wakatere (7th place), Charlotte Corston from Charteris Bay, (8th place), Liam Closey from Murrays Bay (9th place) and Ryan Amlehn from Nelson (10th place).  

Carmen Haybittle from Naval Point won the green fleet event followed closely by Nick Thyne from Worser Bay (2nd place) who was in turn followed by Oakley Marsh also from Worser Bay (3rd place).

The new Inter-Islander Challenge proved to be a great success due to the number of North Islanders who supported the event.  The winner of the cup was based on points scored from North versus South.  The results were perplexingly tied with both North and South on equal points.  The winner of the open fleet competition was consequently nominated as the Inter-Islander Challenge winner, this being the South Island.  Charteris Bay Yacht Club got to hold the cup for 2009.   

In summary the regatta was a great success thanks to the organizing committee and the huge support of the North Islanders who not only took time to travel south for the contest but also for so willingly helped out with the running of the event.  This was a great warm up regatta for the upcoming Open National Championship scheduled for Worser Bay during Easter. Winton Buchanan

Open fleet results
Green fleet results

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