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Howth Yacht Club's Rocco Wright Takes Silver in Australian Optimist Open

9th January 2020
Rocco Wright gets his prize in the Australian Optimist National Opens from the Commodore of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Melbourne Rocco Wright gets his prize in the Australian Optimist National Opens from the Commodore of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Melbourne Photo: Darren Wright

It all came down to the eleventh and final race of the Australian Optimist National Opens 2020 in Melbourne, with a total fleet of 255 boats from eight nations racing. Howth Yacht Club's Rocco Wright was overnight leader by just one point from the USA’s Samara Walsh, and in today’s first of two races he consolidated this with a third, with Walshe in fourth. But French star Zou Schemmel had got himself back in contention with a win, while the hopes of Australia were raised by 12-year-old Joel Beashel of Sydney back in the frame with a second.

At the start of the final race, things looked very good for the Irish and French campaigns, as Wright and Schemmel got clear away in the lead, and thus were able to take the usually favoured right hand on the first beat. But conditions were becoming increasingly volatile, and boats on the left began to show ahead, with completely new names emerging at the head of the fleet. In the end, the winner of the final joust was New Zealand’s Joe Leith, whose best placing until then had been a fourth. As it was, even with this final win, he still placed back in 12th overall.

Meanwhile the top contenders saw their final complete re-shuffling get Beashel a sixth in this last race. But as Wright was out of it with 37th while Walshe was 13th and Schemmel 25th, Beashel emerged as winner with Wright second by just one point, and in turn one point ahead of Walshe with Australia’s Matty Goss fourth and France's Schemmel fifth.

Results here

This notable placing by Rocco Wright (who won two major regattas in Sydney in December) continues a remarkable period for the Irish Optimist Dinghy Class, as James Dwyer Matthews of Royal Cork won the British Spring Opens 2019, the British Opens 2019, and the 185-boat 11 nations Irish Opens 2019, while Rocco Wright took tenth in the Worlds 2019, second in the North Americans 2019, and now second in the Australians 2020.

Published in Optimist
WM Nixon

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WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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