The South Island again dominated the Interislander Optimist Challenge, Island of origin Opti style, the winner decided from the best results through the age groups from both Optimist Classes.
Jayvee Buchanan of Charteris Bay won the Open Optimist Class for the second time, Taylor Burn of Queen Charlotte was 1 point behind in 2nd, and Liam Closey of Murrays Bay 3rd. Grace Hawtin of Queen Charlotte convincingly won the Green Fleet, Steffi Loncar of Queen Charlotte in 2nd and Blake Woodfield of Taupo 3rd.
76 young sailors from all over New Zealand took to the sparkling waters of Queen Charlotte Sound outside Mabel Island in the Optimist Open Fleet. The strong Green Fleet of 29 sailors sailed a separate course inside Picton harbour. Three days of racing were scheduled for the Optimists as this regatta is one of the NZ International Optimists Dinghy Association's three selection regattas outside of the National Championships for the sailors vying for spots to represent NZ in International regattas.
Marlborough's Mayor, Alistair Sowman, formally opened the event and sailors and supporters were treated to a stunning 'Taste of Marlborough' provided by generous local sponsors and the hard working QCYC kitchen team.
Racing started Friday in light and shifty winds but brilliant sunshine, first race for the Open Fleet under way by 1pm and 4 races were completed as scheduled but long day on the water. The Port Marlborough Top of the South Youth Regatta started on Saturday, the sailors in P Class, Starling, Splash and Laser 4.7 joining the Optimists on the same course but with different starts.
Racing was scheduled for a 10.30am start and the Optimists were all towed out to the course only to wait for the wind to fill in. An early lunch was called for and the sailors were entertained with the antics of the Kohimarama Yacht Club crew in the Pirate ship, the old Port Marlborough tender flying the 'skull and crossbones, the crew brandishing all manner of rusty weapons.
The Principle Race Officer, Gerry Martin, did a great job of ensuring fair courses in the shifty conditions that saw many sailors climb or drop in placings depending on how well they could read the conditions. The Green Fleet inside the harbour had similar shifty conditions that saw the local young stars make the most of the racing. Phil Chandler, the Green Fleet Race Officer, looked after the junior sailors well and by end of the day they had completed another 4 good races.
Sunday started with a 6.30am tsunami warning and the possibility of a major delay. The arrival of the NZ Police telling us to pack up and leave the beach led to the abandonment of the Regatta. Prizegiving was shifted to the Queen Charlotte College assembly hall on higher ground. The threat of surges subsided so a BBQ completed the event back at the Yacht Club and we could toast the fabulous sailing conditions we weren't able to sail in.
The young Queen Charlotte sailors performed well in all classes and relished the chance to compete against some NZ's top young sailors. The Interislander Optimist Challenge is becoming well established on the junior circuit, the Port Marlborough Youth Regatta will grow with the Interislander success and create more good competition outside the major sailing centres. The comment was often made this weekend ...'who would pass up the chance of a great road trip to a great event'.
Results for Interisland Optimist Challenge and Port Marlborough Top of the South Youth Regatta are now on the opening page of the QCYC website. www.qcyc.org.nz