Claire Lasko wins the Belgium Optimist nationals with five points clear

Glorious sunshine and a south-westerly Force 3-4 greeted the 73 Optimist sailors from Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark and Great Britain for the Belgium Optimist Open Championship at Nieuwpoort, Belgium on 28-29 June.

In the first race in a strong tidal stream and light airs, Axel v Bladel (NED) made a great start arriving at the windward mark with a long lead but the race was abandoned. It was re-started again 30 minutes later and this time Laura Maes (BEL) local favourite made no mistakes to win ahead of the Swiss pair of Raphael Gabella and Olivier Gremaud.

In the second race of the day, with the sea breeze having settled in and the sailors having adjusted to the tidal conditions A. van Bladel came through to win ahead of Germaund and Jeoron Belis (BEL).

Race three started with a slacking tide and saw Sander van Bladel (NED) pip Bob Fontaine (BEL), another local favourite with Claire Lasko (GBR) finishing third. With the time getting on and a barbeque awaiting the competitors, no further races were sailed on Saturday.

The overnight leaderboard was interesting with Gremaud in first with 13 pts, S van Bladel second (17pts), Gabella third (20pts) and Lasko fourth (24pts). A number of boats had two good races and a high scoring result, with no discard until race four..

Sunday again was a sunny day, but this time the wind came from the east-sout-east Force 3. The course for race four was fair with Lasko first at the winward mark having worked the middle, right of the course and Gijs Pelt (NED) having worked the middle, left in second place. They also finished in this order with Fontaine third.

The wind increased to Force 4-5 for race five resulting in 1.5 metre swell. The heavier sailors faired well up the beat with Pelt finishing first ahead of Astrid Zweistra (NED) in second and Fontaine third.

As time was getting on race six was to be the last race of the day with Fontaine having a two-point lead on Lasko who had finished fifth in the last race. Pelt made no mistake finishing the day with 2,1,1. Maes finishing second, but having picked up a black flag on Saturday had to count a 25th which put the national title out of reach.

Fontaine could only finish 13th but a third for Lasko resulted in an overall win. With consistancy being the key to this event Zweistra finished second overall and second girl ahead of the local boy, Fontaine.

Overall Results

1 Claire Lasko (GBR) 23pts , 11,11,3,1,5,3

2 Astrid Zweistra (NED) 28pts, 6,13,7,8,2,5

3 Bob Fontaine (BEL) 31pts, 10,14,2,3,3,13

4 Sander v. Bladel (NED) 34pts, 13,4,1,12,4,20

5 Barnabe Deliens (BEL) 39pts, 4,15,10,4,37,6

6 Laura Maes (BEL) 42 pts, 1,7,bfd,25,7,2