A Malta Young Sailors Club (MYSC) group recently travelled to the UK for the Volvo Musto British Open Optimist Championships in Pwllheli, Wales. Led by coach Jean-Paul Fleri Soler, the 11 sailors battled it out in windy conditions, ranging from 10 to 25 knots and competed against 450 participants in the different categories. Competition was tough, with top sailors from the UK, United States, Dubai,Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong also in the entrylist.
Thomas Zammit Tabona, Ella Fleri Soler, Ryan Cauchi, Abigail Fenech and new comer Thomas Sammut Alessi competed in the Senior Fleet (ages 13-15). Edward Fleri Soler, Karl Miggiani, Matthew Westwood, Ryan Abela and Alex Esposito took part in the Junior Fleet (ages 8-12) and Sean Borg figured in the Laser Championships in Abersoch.Twelve races were held over five days between August 8 and 15. In a statement, the MYSC said the British Open was the first international experience for Sammut Alessi, Westwood, Abela and Esposito. Their performances, the MYSC added, were commendable considering they tackled races in fleets of 150 sailors. Thanks to the commitment of the club, Maltese sailors are gaining from international exposure and keeping the national flag flying with honours.
Thomas Zammit Tabona, 14, finished fourth overall and first overseas sailor in his competition. 2007 GSSE silver medallist Ella Fleri Soler, 15, ranked 23rd overall and fourth female while Edward Fleri Soler, 12, achieved a sixth placing overall in the junior category. In Laser 4.7, 2007 GSSE gold medallist Borg did well to earn a sixth placing. In Wales, the MYSC team was also accompanied by Malta Yachting Federation president Anna Rossi. The British Open was the first in a series of international events for the team in the build-up for the 2009 GSSE in 2009.