Young Optimist brigade set to continue Lake Macquarie's proud sailing tradition

NATIONAL CHAMP: Leader of the pack, Joel Beashel, on his way to victory in South Australia. South Lake Macquarie Amateur Sailing Club will host the state titles in March. Picture: Supplied

NATIONAL CHAMP: Leader of the pack, Joel Beashel, on his way to victory in South Australia. South Lake Macquarie Amateur Sailing Club will host the state titles in March. Picture: Supplied

EIGHT-year-old Joel Beashel is among the crew of local children who look set to build on Lake Macquarie’s reputation as the training ground for world-class sailors.

Joel won the intermediate class at the recent Optimist Australian and Open Championship, in South Australia.

He was among a promising contingent of sailors from South Lake Macquarie Amateur Sailing Club (SLMASC), at Sunshine, who contested the national titles for eight- to 14-year-olds.

The club’s juniors are coached by Joel’s parents – former America’s Cup sailor, Adam Beashel, and his wife, Lanee, a four-time Olympic windsurfer for the USA.

“The club is really excelling now and has plenty of talent coming through that has Olympic potential,” Adam said.

The proud father said Joel was impressive.

“Joel won seven of his 12 races. It was an outstanding result, and many older kids were in awe of his efforts,” he said.

Joel’s clubmate, Logan Radford, was seventh in the class, which featured 61 entrants. SLMASC members Asher Ryan (41st) and Dylan Ryan (25th) also did well.

The open class silver fleet had 75 entries.

Bridget Conrad (14th) and Trent Beashel (37th) were the local club’s best performers.

“Bridget has been selected on the Australian girls team and will compete at the New Zealand nationals this year,” Adam said.

The Optimist dinghy is sailed around the world, and is considered an ideal craft in which to learn the sport.

It’s estimated there are about 5000 children sailing Optimist dinghies internationally. Many America’s Cup sailors are known to have started their sailing careers in an Optimist.

Locals will get to see plenty of the craft when SLMASC again hosts the NSW Optimist Championships on the weekend of March 25-26.

It will be the second consecutive year that the club has hosted the titles, with the venue making a good impression in 2016, Adam said.

About 150 children will compete on Lake Macquarie over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the local children race at the club every Sunday.

The club also hosts learn-to-sail classes for sailors aged six years and older on Sunday mornings from 9. The season runs from November to March, with a break over Christmas.

  • Visit slmasc.org
TALENT: Joel Beashel.

TALENT: Joel Beashel.

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