Over 200 competitors are expected to take part in this weekend’s Optimist inland championship

Up to 260 young Optimist sailors from all over the UK are expected to travel to Datchet Water Sailing Club in Berkshire, to compete in the Volvo Musto Optimist Inland Championship this weekend (18-19 May 2002).

This regatta is one of the key events in the UK Optimist sailing calendar, and some of the most promising young sailing talent will be on the start line.

One of Britain’s most experienced America’s Cup sailors, Chris Mason, will be on hand to oversee the action on the water. Chris will be watching closely, especially as his son, Richard Mason (14, Lymington, Hants) is tipped to win the event. Richard recently won the Optimist selection trials to decide who will represent Great Britain at the World Optimist Championship and European Optimist Championship to be held later this Summer. Richard’s top performance ensured him a place in the GB World Optimist Team, which will compete in Corpus Chrisit, Texas, USA between 3-14 July 2002.

The competitors will be keen to talk to Chris about his America’s Cup experiences and the teams’ hopes for British success this Autumn in New Zealand in the 2002 event, the oldest sporting prize in the world.

Also competing at Datchet will be the other four sailors selected alongside Richard:

Hannah Mills (14, Wales) finished second in the selection series overall, and was very close to toppling Richard Mason from first place. She is the first British girl to be selected to compete at the world championship since 1997.

Andrew Conn (Derwent Reservoir) proved that consistency pays to secure the third place in the team and the fourth was taken by Tom Mallindine (15, Wales) who has been to the world championship three times before, but really had to fight for his place this year.

The final member of the world championship team is Tim Saxton (12, Cambridgeshire). His twin brother Ben was selected to represent Great Britain at the European Optimist championship to be held 27 July – 3 August 2002, at Tavira in the Algarve, Portugal.

All competitors at the Volvo Musto Inland Optimist Championships will be able to enter a competition to win a brand new Devoti Optimist dinghy, signed by Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy, who will also give the winner a day’s personal coaching. The competition is open to all Optimist sailors that attend the three major Volvo Musto Optimist Championships in 2002.

“This should be a fantastic event,” said Jan Lasko, Chairman of the UK Optimist Association. “Datchet Water Sailing Club is a great sailing venue, and with such a large number of sailors participating, the competition will be really hard fought.” an or Volvo Ocean Race skipper at Datchet Water Sailing Club.”