Meet the Coaches

Meet the Coaches

VIC State Head Coach 2024/25 - Jack Lewis

A past member of the Victorian Optimist Sailing Team, Jack has been coaching optimists for the last 5 years. Under Jack’s guidance the VOST has posted their best ever results at the Pittwater nationals. Leading him to being recognised as coach of the year for 2022-23. Having learnt from some of the best coaches in the country he wants to continue to pass on his knowledge and experience to help sailors achieve their goals. Jack will be leading the Australian team at the Asian and Oceanic Optimist Championships this year. He was also instrumental in Victoria's win in the team racing component at the Optimist Nationals held in Adelaide in January 2024.

National Head Coach - David White

David started sailing in his Optimist 24 years ago in Ireland and progressed down the Laser, 420 and University Team Racing pathway. David is specialised in Optimist Class and has worked with the class for 16 years working his way from green fleet up to being the National Coach for Ireland and Australia. In Victoria, he was the VIODA State Coach from 2012-2015. David works as the Training manager at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club. For fun, David is an active croquet player and is the Club Captain at Edinburgh Gardens Croquet Club.


VIC Opti State Team (VOST) Coach - Will McKenzie 

Hi All, I’m Will and I’m part of the 2024 VIODA Coaching Team. I learnt to sail at Mornington back in 2012 where I have continued to sail there ever since. Just like all of you I spent plenty of time in an Opti which I sailed until 2018. After Optis I then moved into sailing at 420 where I learnt the ups and downs and fun of sailing with another person. These days I spend the majority of my time behind the wheel of a coach boat however when I do get on the water myself I’m either wingfoiling or racing on keelboats where I’ve done quite a few offshore races over the last few years including some Melbourne-Hobarts a Sydney-gold coast and over June this year I’ll be competing in the Newport-Bermuda race.


VIC Opti Development Squad (VODS) Coach - Anna Cripsey 

I learnt to sail at Albert Park in the Opti. During my Opti years I had the opportunity to represent Australia on the AODS, AOGS, and Asians team which allowed me to travel and sail in many fun places around the world. After that I transitioned into the 420 and became female national champion and Victorian Institute of Sport sailor. After two years in the 49er FX and Australian Sailing Futures team, I am now campaigning in the women’s IQ foil and loving my time out on the water! My favorite part about coaching is getting to see others enjoying sailing and improving their skills!


Patrick Cummin - Davey's Bay Yacht Club

I have been sailing since I was 7, I always loved getting out on the water and fell in love with the sport straight away. You wouldn’t have called me a ‘weapon’ in the Opti, but I had a passion for getting out there and trying to get that little bit better, especially when I was doing it with friends. Our little Opti squad would travel around the bay, and we even made it across an ocean! (Which was Tasmania…) for the 2019 Nationals. Having a group of close friends to sail with is what made me love the sport so much. We grew up and all naturally became Assistant Instructors, then Instructors and now coaches, helping run the program at my home club, Davey’s Bay.

Coaching is another element of sailing as you get to see the sport from a whole new perspective. I found that coaching helped my sailing, and it also let me give back to the sport at the same time. As I progressed through the youth classes I found that I was away competing more often, but this meant I could expose myself to more coaching techniques and skills that I could bring back home and teach. It is always great to see the Davey’s Bay squad growing into nicely-rounded sailors and my main goal is to guide them into falling in love with this great sport. 

After COVID it’s good to see the program filling back up in all skill levels and this should mean a steady flow of new instructors, Youth sailors, Opti groms and even Olympic champions! It’s great to see the sport grow as I get older, and I hope to see you all around the boat park.

Tom Johnston - Sandringham Yacht Club

I started my sailing career out of Sandringham Yacht Club, learning how to race in an Opti. One of my favourite experiences in the Opti was being a part of the Australian team at the Qingdao international sailing regatta. Following Optis, I moved into the International Cadet Class, where I competed at the 2019 World Championship in Poland and later won the Australian National Championship. I recently competed in the Tasar World Championship over January this year and continue to be actively involved as a sailing coach for Sandringham Yacht Club. I am looking forward to coaching the VIODA fleet this season, guiding the next generation of sailors to achieve their goals.


Zara Challis - Sandringham Yacht Club

My name is Zara, and this is my first year being part of the VIDOA coaching team. I have been coaching optis at Sandringham Yacht Club for a few years now, primarily promoting start racing in Sandringham’s Green fleet. I began my sailing through the St Leonard’s sailing team travelling around Australia to represent in State, and Nationals each year, including representing Australia in Inter dominions in my first few years. Recently I have regained my love for racing, competing in the Taser National and World titles at the start of this year, and now focusing on an all female team in Sandringham’s J70 program, racing in all female keelboat regattas and training for J70 State and National titles in the new season.


Peter McCann - Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club

Hi, my name is Peter McCann. I am an 8 time National Champion in Ireland in various classes, and have 2 top 10 results at the Optimist European championships. I am a professional coach with 10 years of experience, coaching mainly in Ireland, but also in the US and across Europe. For the past 2 years, I have been coaching full time in Australia, mainly based in Sorrento. I look forward to working with you all!


Matty Goss - Sandringham Yacht Club 

Matty Goss is a highly accomplished junior & youth sailor and has represented his club, school, state and country on the national and international fleet and teams racing circuits. Matty has a particular passion for teams racing, and has plenty of tips for racing an Opti in a big fleet and Opti boat setup for lighter sailors in heavy breezes.

Matty started sailing Opti’s at age 5 at Sandringham YC with his first overseas competition at age 9 as part of the VIODA Qingdao Exchange program. Matty made so many friends sailing an Opti around the globe as he competed extensively through Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Middle East. 

Matty continues to be an active sailor in many classes and coaches the Brighton Grammar sailing team.  Fortunate enough to train under some of the best coaches around the world, Matty is looking forward to passing on the drills and skills to the next generation of sailors.