Eighty-seven of Britain's top Optimist sailors attended this year's Volvo Musto Optimist World & European Selections at Weymouth during Arpil

Eighty-seven of Britain’s top Optimist sailors attended this year’s Volvo Musto Optimist World & European Selections at Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy over two three-day weekends in April. This was an invitational event, the sailors invited were the top 90 sailors from last year’s IOCA National ranking list along with 15 sailors selected from the RYA zone squads.

The first selection weekend was held on the 4-6 April. The sailors set out in 5-8 knots of north-north westerly breeze. The first race saw a battle develop between last year’s National Senior and Junior Champions, with Hannah Mills rounding the windward mark just ahead of Claire Lasko. Other competition came in the form of Tim Saxton and Lucy de Boltz who are both members of the promising 2003 junior squad.

The following two races saw the top sailors from 2002 battling it out at the front of the fleet, including the Saxton twins, James Murdock, Robbie Claridge and Richard Mason. Girl power continued to abound with Hannah Mills, Claire Lasko and Sophie Wequelin pushing the boys in all the races. The first day finished with Mills in first ahead of Claridge and Lasko.

Day two started with very light easterly wind. Race one was abandoned, due to lack of wind. In the afternoon this race was rerun in about 6 knots of wind with Greg Carey, taking first ahead of Claridge and Peggy Webster. Mills and Lasko kept up their challenge finishing fourth and sixth respectively.

Day three dawned with glorious sunshine and virtually no wind. Therefore at 1400 hours with no prospect of any wind, racing was abandoned.

The second weekend took place on the 15-27 April. Due to the cancelled races at the previous selections, a minimum of eight races had to be sailed. Luckily day four started cold and windy with a strong south-south-easterly breeze. Again the big names were up against each other at the front of the fleet, with good performances and wins from James Murdock, Richard Mason, Hannah Mills and Ben Saxton. At the end of the day the overall leaders were Hannah Mills in first, Robbie Claridge second and Claire Lasko third.

Day five required the racing to be started in about 10 knots of south-westerly breeze. The first race was won by Hannah Mills, followed closely by junior sailor Claire Lasko, both of whom outshone the boys. Richard Mason, James Murdock and Ed Powys won the remaining three races.

By the last day of selections, both Hannah Mills and Robbie Claridge had already booked their places to the World Championships, but there were still three World places and eight European places to be decided. Murdock finished first ahead of James Large in second with Powys in third.

Hannah Mills become the first girl to win the Volvo Musto Optimist Selection Trials. The first five helms were selected by IOCA to represent Great Britain at the World Championships with the next three boys and three girls selected for the European Championship with the final two places taken from the results.

Overall Results

Volvo Musto Optimist World Team 2003

1. Hannah Mills (15) Corus Sailing Club 43pts Worlds – Gran Canaria

2. Robert Claridge (15) Royal Lymington 56pts Worlds – Gran Canaria

3. James Murdock (15) Bowmoor SC 84pts Worlds – Gran Canaria

4. Richard Mason (15) Royal Lymington 86pts Worlds – Gran Canaria

5. Greg Carey (15) Royal Lymington 87pts Worlds – Gran Canaria

Volvo Musto Optimist European Team 2003

6. Claire Lasko (13) Bowmoor SC 95pts Girls’ Europeans – Croatia

7. David de Boltz(13) Corinthian Otters 106pts Boys’ Europeans – Croatia

8. Andrew Conn (15) Derwent SC 124pts Boys’ Europeans – Croatia

9. Ed Powys (15) Restronguet SC 127pts Boys’ Europeans – Croatia

10. Ben Saxton (13) Grafham Water 131pts Boys’ Europeans – Croatia

11. Tim Saxon (13) Grafham Water 133pts Boys’ Europeans – Croatia

12. Maria Stanley (15) Bowmoor SC 151pts Girls’ Europeans – Croatia

18. Sophie Wequelin (14) Royal Lymington 241pts Girls’ Europeans – Croatia