SAILING: Three Draycote sailors in top ten in historic race at Weymouth

Draycote sailor Ant Clay recalls happy days as an Optimist champion PICTURE BY CHRIS EVANS
Draycote sailor Ant Clay recalls happy days as an Optimist champion PICTURE BY CHRIS EVANS

Event celebrates 70 years of the Optimist

Draycote Water Sailing Club members claimed three of the top ten places in a historic race in Weymouth to celebrate 70 years of the Optimist, one of the most popular sailing boats for youngsters.

Starting the race  PICTURE BY PAULA IRISH

Starting the race PICTURE BY PAULA IRISH

This special race was held during the 2017 Volvo Gill British National and Open Championships at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, which attracted 380 young sailors from the UK and abroad.

All but five participants in this 40-competitor race were adults, and all were former national champions, parents with national and world titles or international coaches. The other five were young sailors racing at this week’s nationals who were given a golden ticket to take part.

They were competing in boats generously loaned by sailors taking part in the nationals – who were keeping fingers crossed that their Optimists would come back in good shape for the rest of the championship!

Unsurprisingly the first three places were taken by recent Optimist National Champions who were still small enough to fit into the boats and remember how to sail them.

Tight racing   PICTURE BY PAULA IRISH

Tight racing PICTURE BY PAULA IRISH

The first adult, in 4th place, was Draycote Water sailor Orkun Soyer, invited to participate as a former Turkish National Laser champion, with fellow club sailors, Steve Irish, 420 World Champion (with his brother Greg), in 7th place, and Ant Clay, the 1987 Optimist National Champion, in 9th.

Other competitors included past Optimist National Champions who had sailed in the Olympics and the recent America’s Cup in Bermuda.

Jeremy Atkins, Draycote Water Sailing Club’s Commodore congratulated Orkun: “The Soyer family are enthusiastic and capable sailors who can often be seen practising at Draycote,” he said.

“They show that sailing is a great sport that the whole family can enjoy together. I knew Orkun was a great sailor, but to beat so many famous sailors in this race was a fantastic achievement!”

At this point in the race, Steve Irish is just ahead of the eventual winner PICTURE BY CHRIS EVANS

At this point in the race, Steve Irish is just ahead of the eventual winner PICTURE BY CHRIS EVANS

Draycote Water Sailing Club has about 700 active sailing members, ranging in age from seven to over 70.

“Sailing is a great sport for all ages, and a chance to learn new skills and make friends while getting lots of exercise and fresh air,” said Atkins.

“It is not necessarily all about racing. There are so many different types of sailing dinghy out there, there is sure to be one to suit every age and physical ability, whether you just want to potter around on a Saturday afternoon or take part in racing in modern performance dinghies.”

The club provides a range of training courses accredited by the RYA, sailing’s national governing body, to take participants from beginner level up to racing.

All ages competing in the Champions race at Weymouth  PICTURE BY PAULA IRISH

All ages competing in the Champions race at Weymouth PICTURE BY PAULA IRISH

It is also a specialist centre for the windsurfing training. To book courses, contact (01788) 814418.

Draycote Water Sailing Club is situated in the Severn Trent Country Park between Rugby and Southam and is open with safety boat cover every day of the year except Christmas Day.

For general enquiries please contact (01788) 814418 or visit the club website http://www.draycotewater.co.uk.