Life beyond Optimists by Gabriella Burlton

After transitioning out of optimist I started to crew in April 2021 in a 420 competing in the selection series to qualify for the 420 worlds 2021 in Sanremo, Italy.

Aug 20, 2021

420 Worlds:

After transitioning out of optimist I started to crew in April 2021 in a 420 competing in the selection series to qualify for the 420 worlds 2021 in Sanremo, Italy.

Being relatively new to the boat, I went into the events not expecting to get much out of them; however this was an experience in itself with Weymouth (being the first) consisting of 25-30+ knots, Warsash having a range of 0-15 knots and Brixham with 15-34knots. By the end of these events we had learnt so much about boat handling and techniques to cope as a light weight boat in heavy conditions.

In May we found out that we had qualified for the worlds to represent team GBR with 18 other British teams. My helm and I were 1 of 2 of the under 17 British boats. After about a month of training and hard work leading up to the event, on the 28th June 2021 we flew out with team GBR to Italy for 2 weeks; the first week for training and the second for racing.

The first week of training was amazing as we experienced the light Mediterranean Seas conditions but also a few storms with waves a few meters high and much bigger than we had ever experienced in the UK. After a nervous measurement check, we could finally start the event of which many young sailors would dream to be a part of. The event started on 5th July and finished on the 10th July. On the first day of the event unfortunately there was no wind meaning that no races were completed however we did get to enjoy a swim in the hot sea and spoke to a few of the foreign sailors of who we made friends with and spoke to throughout the event. So day 2 was the day that the races started with choppy sea conditions and winds at about 15 knots we managed to complete a few races with decent scores which were improving all the time. As the week went on the conditions were varied from very gusty, shifty conditions with a nasty sea state at 26knot to flat calm conditions with about 6 knots.

By the end of the event 10 races had been completed with many challenges one of which being an out haul malfunction. Unfortunately the result was not as I had hoped but the experience was absolutely amazing. I met up with friends I have made in past British events from different countries such as America and made new friends as well as getting to spend 2 weeks living with another family and eating a lot of seafood. Moving into the 420 class has been really good and hope more Royal Southern sailor join too!

29er British Nationals:

4 days before the 29er British Nationals hosted in Largs I received a call from one of my friend (Gwen) who I use to train with in Optimists asking me if I wanted to crew for her at the nationals. Of course I said yes although I had never sailed a 29er before meaning that we did 3 days training before going on a 10 hour car ride to Largs.

The first few days were difficult with little winds, a lot of waiting around and a competitive fleet putting us in silver fleet for the last 2 days of the event. Being a light weight boat again the first day of the finals was hard as we had about 20 knots however our results consisted of 3,3,3,1 putting us in first place going into the last day. The nerves were definitely up on the last day as we knew that if there were 2 races then we had won silver although if there were 3 races then we had to have good results at the top. We got an 11 and 4 with very light winds, our results meant that we had won silver fleet with 14 points to spare.

Being my first 29er event I was not expecting to come away with anything however I was over the moon being 29er Silver Fleet British National Champion

Since I left Optimists I have had so many experiences in different boats learning new skills and going through a lot of different challenges as well as continuing to use skills that I have learnt in my time in Oppies. I hope many more young sailors will follow and try many new boats, hope to see many Royal Southern sailors in the future winning events in a range of boats using the skills that they have learnt in Optimists!!