Excitement was in the air this morning as over 200 sailors realized the Easter Bunny had visited the boat park overnight! Chocolatey surprises were hidden in and amongst the Optis, the best way to start Day 3 of the 2023 Toyota Optimist National Championship.
An onshore breeze ruffled the sails as kids waited for the D- Flag, some anxious to get racing and others nervous about the new set of challenging conditions. Big swells battered the race course, with a 15 - 20 knot northerly breeze setting in.
Out on the Open and White Fleet course the race committee managed to get one race away for each fleet before a big rain squall came through putting a halt to proceedings while everyone battened down the hatches. After the front moved on, the sea state briefly settled enough to get the second race away.
On the first day of Gold fleet racing, opposite conditions to yesterday caused a bit of a mix-up in the leaderboard. William Mason (WBC) moved right up to the top of the podium with top-three race results across all four races today including two race wins. Charlie Bridger (CBYC/WBC) moved down into second after a 2,4,14,6. Nelson Meacham (WBC) has made his way back onto the leaderboard winning the first race of the day followed by a 6,9,3. The Gold fleet is starting to spread out slowly as today’s conditions made way for more thrills and spills with big consequences.
The strong outgoing tide seemed to make starting behind the line a bit of a challenge for the Silver fleet with many BFDs and general recalls across their three races. The separation of the Gold and Silver fleet allows those who are newer to Open fleet a chance to shine. Nathan Wong (WBC) did just that winning two out of his three races today. White Fleet also managed to complete three races today. Mehiti Bax de Keating (Tahiti) had a phenomenal day winning the first two races of the day. Louison Cardin also from Tahiti hangs onto his comfortable lead after three top-five races.
Over on the Green Fleet course there was even more breeze!
All of the Greenies should be so proud of themselves for sticking it out and racing in such challenging conditions. There was a shift in the leaderboard with those who favoured the stronger breeze climbing their way up. Zofia Wells (GBC/RAYC) continues with her commanding lead, however, Akihei Baniel from Tahiti jumped right up into 2nd place after a race win in race eight. Guangnian Li (RAYC) also moved up into 3rd place after a day of consistent top-three results. Tyler Warren (GBC) had the best day winning race 7 and placing 2nd in race 8 to move into 6th.
The true test today was not on the race course however it was landing on the beach in the pounding swells. Parents swam out to Optis as they surfed out of control into the beach. A nail-biting experience but a real show of community as volunteers, parents and fellow sailors banded together to make sure everyone arrived back to the boat park safely.
The breeze is set to simmer down slightly overnight to around 12 - 17 knots, however with the northerly direction continuing we can expect to see more large swells and plenty more action for the final day of the regatta on Monday.
Report & images Tasman Rowntree I 2023 Toyota Opti Nats @ WakatereBC