Hannah Mills has become the first girl ever to win the Optimist Nationals

Pwllheli Sailing Club in North Wales played host to the Volvo Musto Optimist National Championship 2002 (4-10 August). A total of 294 sailors took part including entries from America, Holland, Germany, France and Ireland.

The Senior fleet was won by, Welsh sailing sensation Hannah Mills, (14, Dinas Powys) who has recently returned from the Optimist World Championship in Texas where she finished a commendable ninth place – the highest place for a British girl ever. In Pwllheli, Hannah won seven of the 12 races, being crowned the Volvo Musto Optimist National Champion with two races to spare.

“After the World Championship I was hoping to do well at this event I. I am very proud to be crowned the National Champion, especially as I am the first girl ever to win this event and also that the Championship has taken place in my home country, Wales,” said Hannah. Hannah’s British nearest rival was 14-year-old James Murdock from Bowmoor Sailing Club, who was 33 points behind Hannah and her nearest female rival Maria Stanley finished 184 points astray.

In the Junior fleet, the race for title was closer fought. Identical twins, Tim and Ben Saxton (12, Grafham Water) were battling it out at the front of the fleet eventually finishing third and fifth respectively. But it was another girl, Claire Lasko (12, Oxford) who took the title having sailed a very consistent series, her worst race scoring a fifth place. Claire was placed a very respectable 16th place at the Optimist European Championship last month. Second place was taken by David de Boltz (12, Burnham-on-Crouch).

“I came to this event, aiming to better my position from last year, when I was fourth overall and first girl, so I am really pleased to be the Volvo Musto National Champion in the Junior fleet,” said a very happy Claire.

John Lefley, Director of Press and Events at Volvo Car UK announced their continued sponsorship of the event along with Musto. “Another excellent week of youth sailing. The enthusiasm and skills demonstrated this week at such an early age is to be commended and we enjoy our involvement with the Optimist class. It is therefore perhaps appropriate after such a good weeks racing that Volvo Car UK and Musto recently announced its intention to continue the sponsorship of the Optimist class in the future.”

The National Championships is one of the three key Optimist sailing regattas, the other events being the Volvo Musto Inland Championship and the Volvo Musto End of Season Championship which take place at Draycote Water Sailing Club in October. After competing at all three Championships, the National squad for 2003 will be selected.

“Musto are proud to sponsor the Volvo Musto Optimist Sailing Program, and think it is very important to be involved with the grass roots of sailing,” said Nigel Musto, Deputy Managing Director at Musto Performance. “I was very impressed with the standard of sailing that I have seen over the week, and look forward to watching these young sailors following in the foot steps of Britain’s other sailing sensations, including the Volvo Musto Optimist ambassador Iain Percy.”