Meet the Coaches

Meet the Coaches

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 taking the Australian Optimist Sailing Team to the Asians championships in 2023.

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.

Immi Weber
My name is Immi and I have been a part of the VIODA coaching team since 2021. I started learning to sail in the opti in 2010 at Davey’s Bay YC before moving to Mornington Yacht Club in 2013 where I have been ever since. After the opti, I moved into the 420 for a couple of years before transitioning into the Laser. I joined the Toorak College Sailing Team in Year 7, and completed in the state championships each year, first as crew before becoming a skipper for my team. Now, I spent my time on the water coaching sailors and passing on knowledge and a lifelong passion of our amazing sport. In August, I will be heading over to China for the Qingdao International Optimist Training Camp and Regatta with 6 VIODA sailors as their coach.


Will McKenzie
Hi All, I’m Will and I’m part of the 2023 VIODA Winter 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 did the Melbourne to Hobart last year and planning  on doing the Sydney to Hobart at the end of this year.


Finn McMahon
I started sailing an Optimist when I was 8 years old at Albert Park Lake with my friends. In 2015, my family and I left Australia to go sailing around the world on a catamaran. During our travels, I had the opportunity to compete in several national championships in different countries, such as Anguilla in the Caribbean, New Caledonia, Fiji, and New Zealand. Between 2016 and 2018, I continued sailing the Optimist back in Australia and managed to win the Vic states in both 2017 and 2018. I was also honored to be named the Vic Junior Sailor of the Year in 2017 and 2018. Additionally, I had the privilege of representing Australia in the North American Championships in 2017 and the European Championships in 2018.
After my time in the Optimist, I transitioned to sailing the 420 for a couple of years before the COVID-19 pandemic. During the past few years, I have worked as a coach at Royal Brighton Yacht Club, Black Rock Yacht Club, and Haileybury. Currently, I am serving as the Head Coach at Mentone Grammar.


Sophie Jackson
I started in Optis, and was the Vic female state champion 3 years in a row and in the VOST. I transitioned to 420s and competed in 2 world champs, best result 6th. Also have raced fireballs and RS Aeros a little, winning the Aero Worlds in 2020, and 2nd at the fireball nationals this year. Now campaigning 470s towards the Olympics, part of the Aus Futures squad, currently ranked 2nd in Aus, will be competing in the worlds next month which is the first Olympic qualifier. Have been coaching for many years now, mostly Optis and 420s, from Tackers through to national champions.


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. Recently I’ve been sailing the 49er FX as part of the Australian Sailing Futures team and have also been trying my hand at wind-foiling which has been a great, different and challenging experience. My favorite part about coaching is getting to see others enjoying sailing and improving their skills.


Linus Talacko

Lachie Grogan

Laura Thompson
Laura is a graduate of the Coaching Scholarship Program initiated by VIODA in 2015 to develop a group of young Victorian Coaches to help strengthen the depth of coaching for the class in the coming years. At 17, Laura campaigned in the Women’s Laser Radial after winning the 2014 U16 women’s national title in Laser 4.7 and competing in Optimists from a young age. Invited guest of the Australian Youth Radial team, she has had exposure to a broad range of fantastic coaches over the years and hopes to pass on her knowledge to the next generation of athletes!

Charlie Dixon
Charlie Dixon is a young and active coach in Victoria. Having progressed through a variety of boats, including the 420, 49er and Waszp, he has learnt from coaches all around Australia and has had the opportunity to compete overseas on several occasions. He is currently studying Engineering and has been coaching Optimists around Victoria since 2015.

Ella Grimshaw

My home club is Blairgowrie yacht squadron and Parkdale yacht club where I learnt to sail with all my extended family. I competed at national and international level multiple times in the 420, including being part of the Australian Youth Sailing team. In my last year of the 420 we gained the title of second in the world at the 2017 420 world championships. I then went on to compete in the 49erFX at national and international level. From this I have had experience with many different coach’s and have lots of valuable information to pass on.  

Mel Hitchen-Haw
Mel Hitchen-Haw is very active in developing the fleet at Mornington Yacht Club. Mel sailed Opti's successfully for a number of years, and made AOST 3 times. After the Optimist class Mel transitioned into the Laser 4.7 where she went to the Worlds and came 2nd.  More recently Mel has been sailing a 470 with the Australian Sailing Team and has been enjoying getting on Etchells. Mel is a big fan of Australia Rules football and barracks for the Melbourne Demons.

James McLennan
James has been an active sailor from a young age. Sailing in the Optimist, James represented Australia in the 2010 and 2011 Worlds and was the 2011 Victorian Junior Sailor of the Year. After ageing out of the Optimist he went into the 29er class where he placed 4th at Nationals and 1st at the Victorian State Championships. More recently, James has been heavily involved with teams racing as the Head Coach at Haileybury, and further he placed 1st at the 2k Teams Racing Nationals in Tasmania earlier this year. James is studying his Master of Architecture, and in his spare time between coach and studying, he loves to Wing Foil.