23 April, 2018
Wakatere sailors dominate Optimist national champs
Wakatere on the podium… George Lee Rush (right) and Josh Hyde celebrate their first and second placings at the Opti nationals
Wakatere sailor George Lee Rush won the New Zealand title at the Optimist Nationals in Picton over Easter.
He also finished the 2017/2018 season as the top-ranked sailor in the class in New Zealand. It was all the more memorable as George turned 13 only a couple of weeks before the nationals (the Opti class is for under-16s).
It was a fantastic regatta for Wakatere with George pipping clubmate Josh Hyde for the national title.
George and Josh were also in the team of four Wakatere Boating Club sailors, along with Mason Mulcahy and Robbie Wooldridge, who took out the New Zealand Optimist Team Racing title at the beginning of the regatta.
All four train in the same squad with coach Tim Adair (also a former Wakatere Optimist sailor). Mason (seventh) and Robbie (eighth) performed well in the individual competition too.
George also qualified for the New Zealand team going to the Optimist world champs in Cyprus in August – the second year in a row he has made it into the worlds team.
George showed great mental strength throughout the regatta. He won the first race, but was judged over the line at the start and heavily penalised. He sprang straight back and won the second race and continued through the regatta in similar vein.
The last Wakatere winner of the Optimist nationals was Henry Haslett, six years ago, and before that Logan Dunning-Beck in 2008.
In his prize-giving speech, George said he could not have won the title without the help of his Wakatere teammates.
Wakatere Boating Club Opti rep Greg Lee said: “These guys have pushed each other hard all season and remain the benchmarks against which they could test themselves.”
This article first appeared in the April 20, 2018 edition of the Devonport Flagstaff.