Saxton and Lees victorious at the Volvo Musto Optimist National Championship 2004

Optimist nationals

Saxton and Lees victorious at the Volvo Musto Optimist National Championship 2004

Largs Sailing Club played host to the Volvo Musto Optimist National Championship last week and a total of 294 young sailors competed in the regatta from as far afield as Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Zimbabwe.

Mike Golding, recent winner of the singlehanded Transat and Defi Atlantique races on Ecover and one of the pre-race favourite’s to win this year’s Vendee Globe, was at the championship yesterday watching the racing and also to present the prizes at the closing ceremony.

The standard of racing was extremely high, especially at the front, where young sailors who have recently returned from the Optimist World Championship were mixing it.

In the senior fleet, Ben Saxton, 14 from Grafham Water, won the last two races to take the lead from his twin brother Tim and the title. Ben sailed very consistently all week, winning four out of eight races and only having to discard a sixth place, He finished the championships with 13 points, eight points clear of second-placed 14-year-old Sophie Weguelin.

The junior fleet was extremely competitive with a lot of new faces at the top of the leader board. However Mark Lees, aged 12, from Poole YC, dominated from the first race to finish the championship with 38 points. The result is likely to lead to an invite to join the National Squad.

First girl and top Scottish sailor in the junior fleet was Anna Burnet, 11 from Royal Northern and Clyde YC.

The National Championships is one of a trio of events to decide the 2005 National Squad, the others being the Inland Championships in May and the forthcoming End of Season Championships at Rutland in October; all events are supported by Volvo and Musto.