Optimist Team Racing Nationals

With Hong Kong’s Optimist sailors competing at International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) events, it is important that our sailors enhance their understanding and experience in team racing which is an integral component in their events.

Consequently, over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, the 29th and 30th of May 2021, the Hong Kong Optimist Dinghy Association (HKODA), in conjunction with the Hebe Haven Yacht Club, held the annual HKODA Team Racing Nationals 2021.

A total of eight teams, comprising 32 sailors , entered, with two teams representing Aberdeen Boat Club, two representing Hebe Haven Yacht Club and four from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.

Saturday saw 28 qualifying flights completed with each team of four Optimist boats competing once against the other seven teams in a round robin format.

A relatively short S-shaped course (see diagram below) was set with each of the legs 150 metres for a total of 750 metres, with separate start and finishing committee boats, and with each flight lasting eight to 10 minutes.

Overseeing the start procedures were Elberti Uiterwaal and Bonnie Cheng, ably assisted by on-the-water umpires. This helped the young participants to better understand the rules, particularly on-course-side (OCS) infringements, which helped improve their discipline during the course of the event.
 
Later, back at the Hebe Haven Yacht Club on Saturday, various requests for redress were heard by the jury but results remained unchanged.

The southwesterly breeze was fluky – in the 8- to 12-knot range – with Mark 1 initially set at 195 degrees before being reset around 1230 to 220 degrees. Race management was helped along with the use of the app Buoy Zone.

Racing commenced on Saturday after a three-minute warning signal and the hoisting of the Class flag. One minute later the preparatory flag was hoisted then dropped another minute later, followed one minute later with the removal of the Class flag signalling the start of the race at 1111.

At the conclusion of racing on Saturday ABC A team topped the leader board, having won six of their seven races, losing only one to Hebe A team. Hebe A and RHKYC’s B team were tied for 2nd place on five points, each having lost two races.

The competition continued on Sunday, the 30th of May, in a slightly stronger 10- to 14-knot breeze, oscillating but steadying in the 210- to 235-degree range, with the windward Mark 1 set at 225 degrees. One member of the ABC A team was unavailable on Sunday and was replaced, making a total of 33 participants over the weekend.

Racing on Sunday was on a knock-out basis, comprising a total of 16 races. The first race of the day, Race 29, at 1042, was between ABC A and Hebe B with the winner ABC A progressing to Race 33 against the winner of Race 30 RHKYC A which beat RHKYC C. The two losers Hebe B and RHKYC C later competed for a last chance opportunity to progress to the next round. RHKYC C progressed while Hebe B was eliminated.

Races 31 and 32 were between Hebe A and ABC B and RHKYC B and RHKYC D respectively. These were won by Hebe A and RHKYC B. RHKYC D won their last chance qualifier between the losers to progress, while ABC B was eliminated.

Reaching the first semi-final, Race 40, were RHKYC C and Hebe A with Hebe A progressing to the finals.  Race 41, the other semi-final, saw ABC A beat RHKYC B. The two losers then competed for 3rd and 4th overall with RHKYC B taking 3rd and RHKYC C 4th.

The two final races, Race 43 and 44, between Hebe A and ABC A saw Hebe A win both to be crowned HKODA Team Racing Champions 2021, having lost only two races during the event.

ABC A finished in 2nd place.

Congratulating his Hebe A team, comprising Peter Jessop, Seb van Ommeren, Vianney Bourrut Lacouture and Mason Wilkinson, after the medal presentation in the Garden Bar at HHYC, their head coach, Alfred Okoth, felt his team’s understanding of their defined roles in the team gave them the edge.

Summing up Bonnie Cheng commented that the youngsters, having a better understanding of the rules, were far more cautious on Sunday, resulting in less OCS infringements.

Elberti Uiterwaal, was delighted to see all three clubs on the podium. She thanked all the participants, officials and volunteers for a fantastic event, saying she believed their experiences over the weekend would prove invaluable for the further development of team racing in Hong Kong. Her greatest satisfaction, however, was seeing all the smiling faces during and after the event.





 
   
 
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