170 Optimists came to Hayling Island Sailing Club over the 10-11 Sept for the second of the 3 major ranking events for 2016. This was the first time HISC, with its growing Optimist fleet, had hosted an IOCA major event in recent years.
The forecast suggested that the extremes of the weather window were due over the weekend and there was some trepidation around the boat park as the fleet mustered on Saturday. However, 4 races over varied conditions were efficiently delivered with a deserving winner Finlay Dickinson, from HISC, taking the title and the new perpetual trophy (donated kindly by the Hammett family and with thanks to HD sails for donating a mini oppy sail for the replica optimist).
Meanwhile, the 1km “sleigh ride” home from Bar Beacon in 28-33 knots for the 110 odd boats that completed race 2 Saturday will go down in the memory for the sailors. The level of seamanship on display from the sailors was extremely impressive with Tim Hancock, the Race Officer, commenting at the end of the weekend that most adult fleets would have stayed in the clubhouse!
The racing itself was undeniably “a game of two halves”. After a short delay on Saturday to let the sea conditions and visibility improve, racing started in 18-23 knots and blustery rain giving the heavier sailors a chance to stake their claim for the title. Despite a forecast of an easing wind, the breeze built and built to top out at 26 to 31 knots on the race course (and 33 knots on CHIMET). Kai Wolgram won his two flighted races and led overnight. In second Haydn Sewell had a 2,2 – Finlay Dickinson lay 3rd with a 5,1 and last year’s winner Jamie Cook a 2,3 and held 4th.
Sunday dawned with a clear blue sky and millpond like sea – almost a different world. After a short delay the wind filled in and RO Tim Hancock managed to get two races away before the 3pm cut off in 5-6 knots building to 7-9 knots at the end of the 4th race. The winner of the event would need to display a mastery of completely different conditions on day 2.