The sun was shining and the bacon was sizzling for the final day of the 2023 Toyota Optimist National Championship. Everyone was eager to get underway with three races left to decide our national champions and travelling teams. The sea state was a lot more settled this morning making launching easier and allowing the race committees to crack straight into racing.
Zofia Wells from Glendowie has comfortably led Green fleet the entire regatta, however today her position on the top of the podium was threatened by Akihei Baniel from Tahiti. After a tough first race for Zofia, Akihei was breathing down her neck. Akihei won the next race followed by a third place to clinch the win off Zofia on count back who finished fifth in the final race. Guangnian Li held onto his spot on the podium finishing the regatta in third, thirty points clear of 4th. Well done to all the Green fleet sailors who toughed out heavy winds, scary swells and frustrating light airs, you should all be proud.
As the day progressed the breeze began to pick up closer to 20 knots and the swell started to roll in. Gold fleet got an extra race in on Sunday afternoon so they were held ashore while White and Silver fleet caught up. Louison Cardin (Tahiti) has led White fleet every day of the regatta, he continued his grasp today winning all three of his races. To stand on the top of the podium in White fleet. Mehiti Bax de Keating (Tahiti) couldn’t quite catch Louison finishing just behind him in 2nd every race.
Over in the Silver fleet Nicholas Wong (Wakatere) was uncatchable - out the front in every race however an unfortunate UFD in his second race of the day saw him drop back into third place. Tom Shannon (Wakatere) jumped up into first today after two days of consistency in the Silver finals series.
Despite the high stakes for the Gold fleet sailors, everyone was all fist bumps and smiles on shore. However, when they hit the water, game faces went on. The wins were shared around on Day 4 with Nathan Soper (MBSC/QCYC/CBYC), Oli Stone (KYC) and Nelson Meacham (Wakatere) all winning a race. Oli Stone had the most consistently good day coming away with a 3,1,2 but missed out on a spot on the podium on count-back to Charlie Bridger (CBYC / WBC) who finished in third. The battle for first overall was on between Nelson Meacham (Wakatere), and William Mason (Wakatere), all William had to do was keep up the front of the pack to secure his win and he did just that. Unfortunately, two-fourths and a first just weren’t enough for Nelson. Well done to Greta Hutton (MBSC) 11th overall taking the female national title.
Four days of epic racing and fun have come to an end and every sailor should be proud. A massive thank you to all the people who made this event as special as it was. The amazing race officials, safety and medic boats, results calculators, judges, volunteers, parents and everyone in between.
“The last four days have been an epic success, it has been an honour and a privilege to host this incredible event," said Wakatere Commodore Julia Faire.
Congratulations to all of the prize-getters and everybody who survived the 2023 Toyota Optimist Nationals!
Report & images Tasman Rowntree