The 2011 Toyota Optimist New Zealand Nationals Championship was won by Leonard Takahashi-Fry, a 12 year old Aucklander representing Murrays Bay Sailing Club. Leonard drew ahead of his competitors by sailing a very consistent series and only one race outside the top ten placings. It’s a meteoric rise for the young sailor who placed around 80th at the Optimist Nationals at Whitianga last year.
Isaac McHardie of Hamilton/Tauranga was second overall, and local Wakatere BC sailor Markus Somerville placed third overall, Markus competed at the Optimist Worlds last year.
The National championships were made up of 310 sailors aged from 9 – 15 years from New Zealand, Australia, Tahiti, Noumea and the Cook Islands and was the largest single class sailing dinghy regatta to be held in New Zealand during this season in 2011.
The series, sailed out of Wakatere Boating Club in Devonport, Auckland, was the selection regatta for the New Zealand Optimist World Championship team who will compete at the World Championships to be held in Napier from December 31st 2011-January 10th 2012. Takahashi-Fry, McHardie and Somerville make up the 2011 New Zealand Optimist World Championship team, along with fourth placed William McKenzie of Kohimarama YC and fifth placed Nathaniel Deverell of the Bay of Islands.
It was also used as a test run for the World Championship and, with this in mind, on-the-water race management was headed by a team from Napier working alongside Wakatere club members. Together they succeeded in achieving the full quota of 14 races scheduled for the series over the five days and delivering a regatta which has been resounding success on and off the water.
The series concluded with three races beginning later in the day as a mark of respect for ANZAC day. Conditions were wet, with moderate north easterly winds coming onshore which gusted up to 18 knots as rain squalls blew through. With the outgoing tide, the sailing waters whipped up into a one metre chop typical of the inner Waitemata Harbour.
Regatta conditions were predominantly affected by a north easterly weather pattern which varied from day to day. No wind, through to light wind, through to moderately heavy wind came and went, sometimes all in the same day. We saw anything from flat glassy water through to a choppy sea state and torrential rain being thrown at the young sailors – a wide range of conditions to test their skills and to build upon their growing experience.
The prizegiving was attended by a large crowd of sailors and friends: we were lucky enough to have role model and sailing hero Dean Barker to hand out the prizes; legendary sports comentator Peter Montgomery was also kind enough to MC;
Mike Drummond not only helped on the race course but also awarded the top sailors a trip on Oracle’s AC45; spot prizes donated by local businesses, the sailing industry and other generous sponsors were handed out to lucky sailors;
We would like to thank all those who helped make the regatta possible – there are too many to name, but in particular Wakatere Boating Club – the members who worked so hard preparing for the event as well as helping out on the beach on and on the water.
We would also like to thank Toyota for continuing to support New Zealand’s young sailors by being a major sponsor of the event.