This year’s competition saw sailors representing four islands taking part in the championship – Penrhyn, Aitutaki, Pukapuka and Rarotonga.
There were three fleets of Optimists – green for those new to competitive sailing, plus silver and gold for the more experienced sailors, with each fleet requiring sailors to compete in a round-robin format of six races.
From these races, each sailor’s top-five results would count towards their score and this allowed the race officials to determine a green, silver and gold fleet for the final series of races.
The green fleet final races had six sailors who grew in confidence over the three days of racing. Starting manoeuvres and strategies were improved on and the rules of racing became clearer for each competitor.
Nathan Moorfield from Rarotonga won four of the final races and looked very comfortable in his Optimist.
Other sailors who won races in this division included Setoki Haurua from Aitutaki, Noah Cooling and Savannah Anderson from Rarotonga, and Mairiau Neiao from Pukapuka.
The final day of competition saw a sunny morning with a forecast for increasing breezes during the day.
In the silver fleet, both Rico Saunders and Seychelle Carter, who dominated racing the day before, unfortunately couldn’t continue their winning form.
Apera Tom from Aitutaki won the first race, while Phoenix Clayton from Rarotonga, coming up from the green fleet, took out the next, with the final race for the silver fleet won by Akatapu Sabatano from Aitutaki.
In the gold fleet, Max MacDonald’s dominance slipped slightly as he got crowded out at the start line and was penalised at the start of one race.
Jesse Easterbrook led from the start of race one and managed to hold on to the finish line from a chasing fleet. Max MacDonald came back in race two, taking the lead at the first mark and holding it to cross the finish line in front.
In race three, Griffin Wittwer stayed ahead of the fleet to take out the final race of the regatta.
A team-sailing event that was introduced on the final day, involving four teams of four sailors racing around a short course, saw the competitors using team tactics to help each other navigate the course.
These races exemplified the high level of sportsmanship and camaraderie shown by all sailors during the entire event, with visiting Australian Sailing coach Chris Goldacre saying, “this is the highest level of sportsmanship I have seen at any regatta”.
At the prizegiving ceremony it was announced that Nathan Moorfield had won the green fleet, with Setoki Haurua in second and Mairiau Neiao third.
The winner of the silver fleet was Rico Tawhiri, with second place going to Seychelle Carter, who was just ahead of Apera Tom in third.
And in the gold fleet, third place went to Jesse Easterbrook, second to Griffin Wittwer, and the winner of the Cook Islands National Optimist Champs for 2018 was Max MacDonald.
Sailing Cook Islands would like to extend a huge meitaki maata to the sponsors, Air Rarotonga and Bluesky, the volunteers and parents, coaches, race officials, and the Rarotonga Sailing Club as hosts. Together they made the regatta very successful.
The next major Optimist event on the sailing calendar is the Boatshed Regatta, which will be held at Aitutaki in October. - Release