VIODA President Annual Report

VIODA 2015/16 President Report

The 2015/2016 has been a busy and successful year for the Optimist class.  We have seen our membership to VIODA grow which is a great indicator that the initiatives we are running are attractive to sailors of all skill levels and aspirations.  VIODA has also completed a recent analysis on our Optimist membership base and we have a split of approx. 50/50 for boy/girl participation.  A number of the Girls programs run over the past few years has created this growth and we are pleased to see so many girls staying in the sport through their transition into youth classes.  

The Optimist fleet in Victoria has seen solid representation at all major regattas this year with a record Victorian fleet at Sail Sandy, SuperSail, Sail Country, ISAF Sailing World Cup, Lidgett Cup and States.  Victoria also had a great representation at the Nationals in Sydney with 41 sailors present which is the largest number of participants for a number of years.

The VIODA volunteer committee has been working closely with the ISAF Sailing World Cup Team team with some promotional activities for the pathway class with the Optimists VS Olympians Challenge.  This was the largest Open fleet event in Victoria for the year with many interstate sailors coming to Melbourne with their families for the event. The 2016 ISAF SWC has already gained the attention of a number of High Performance Optimist Teams in the region and we are looking forward to seeing this to continue to develop into the "Optimist Top Gun” event in the region in the lead up to the Nationals.

State Head Coach

With the departure of David White our first challenge was to search for his replacement.  With a limited local selection of qualified & experienced Optimist Coaches the coaching committee decided to take a slightly different approach and appoint Sean Bly a Yachting Victoria Senior Instructor who would be able to assist in building up a group of qualified coaches. Sean Bly has been of great assistance to VIODA and we now have a great selection of qualified and experienced coaches for our fleet.  This has also been of great benefit to the broader Junior and Youth Sailing movement as many of these coaches came from the Optimist and it is wonderful to be able to continue to support these past sailors in their personal growth & development.

During the year we were fortunate enough to meet Sam Mackay who is a highly successful and respected coach from New Zealand.  After working alongside our fleet for most of the season we are pleased to recently announce Sam MacKay as our new State Head Coach. Sam has been appointed for a two year engagement.   Sam will be developing our team of coaches and the coaching programme throughout the 2016/17 Season.   Sam will also be working with Rob Brewer who was recently appointed by AIODA as the National Optimist Coach.

VIODA/YV Scholarship

To assist in the development of the class VIODA in conjunction with YV invested in running a coaching scholarship programme to solve the issue of unqualified coaches at club level and to provide greater depth in coaches and their timetables around University and sailing commitments.  The Coaches, VIODA, YV and their home club equally shared the programme cost.  We sought applications from around Victoria and five instructors were selected to complete the coaching scholarship. 

Our successful applicants were:

  • Nick Sharman
  • Alison Dale 
  • Laura Thomson
  • Lloyd Collings
  • Jack Graves

These five coaches are now operating back at club level to develop the junior sailor programme. They will also assist in creating coaching depth for major regattas.
National Girls Camp
One of the unique attributes of the Optimist class is that there is a level playing field for both boys and girls to compete at the same level on the same race course.  We are maturing as a fleet with regards to gender balancing and we now enjoy a good split between both genders.  With many top females sailors in the country a few key parents in the Association introduced the concept of the Nationals Girls Camp.  This was run in conjunction with the ISAF Sailing World Cup event in December and was a great way to encourage as many of our top male and female sailors to join the Victorian fleet in the lead up to the Nationals. The girls were billeted with host families and they had special guest coaches including Elise Rechichi and Jacqui Gurr.  VIODA has taken the lead on this initiative however this concept is now being supported in conjunction with AIODA to ensure continuity and awareness at a National level.
Communication & Social Media

The VIODA website has continued to be a growth area for our fleet since the development of the website.  We currently average approx. 200-250 page views in the off-season and peaking at around 2,500 Page views per week during key regattas.  Instagram was launched at the 2015 Opti States and we now have 584 followers to the account.  This is primarily followed by our junior sailors who simply love seeing their photos and sharing with their friends.

Facebook was launched approx. 14 months ago and now has 323 active followers.  This has been a fantastic way for the Victorian fleet to be showcased to the parents, other pathway classes and governing bodies such as AIODA (National Class Association) Yachting Australia and Yachting Victoria.  This provides a great opportunity for us to showcase our sponsors and there are still opportunities for VIODA to seek increased sponsorship. 

International Exchange Programme

In 2015 a team from VIODA participated in the China Exchange programme and travelled to Qingdao to compete.  The VIODA Team this year was Will McKenzie, Zac Heyes, Mackenzie Heyes, Michael Case, Linden Wareing, Holly Shepherd and Lachie Weber.  Our Chinese hosts were amazing as always and provided a fascinating and educational experience both as sailors and as a cultural exchange. We have been invited to return again in 2016 and the team will be announced shortly.

Initiatives for Next Season 2016/17

  • Development of a Green Fleet training framework to develop consistency around Victoria in Green Fleet.
  • Consolidation of the NEW Coaching Committee and implementation of the 2016/17 coaching program.
  • Improvement in overall Open fleet results at National level.
  • Increase participation in all fleets.
  • Increase uptake from Tackers to Class Development programs.
  • VIODA You Tube has been created and we would like to see further media generated for training for the members.

On a personal note I would like to thank all of our volunteer committee for their generous time and commitment to working alongside me with the development of VIODA this year.  I always enjoy our conversations and sharing of ideas and concepts to provide the best we can for our junior sailors. We have all chosen sailing as a family sport and your energy and commitment makes a world of difference. 
To all the committee members who are moving into other fleets we wish you all the best and don’t forget your time in the Opti family.  To all our new committee members…… don’t worry it won’t take up much of your spare time. 


Kate Goss
President VIODA