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Lymington sailor Santi the first British boy on Optimist Euro podium in 20 years

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Santiago Sesto-Cosby in action at the European Championships in Slovenia
Santiago Sesto-Cosby in action at the European Championships in Slovenia

ROYAL Lymington Yacht Club’s Santiago Sesto-Cosby has become the first British boy to finish on the podium at the Optimist European Championships in 20 years.

The event was the most important race in the optimist race calendar after this year’s world championships was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The last British sailors to finish on the podium at the championships were David Evans in 2000, and Olympian Nick Thompson in 1999.

The Optimist class is a youth class for sailors up to the age of 15. Santi turned 15 days after the championships finished.

Former Priestlands student Santi said: “My dream was to be the best ever British Optimist sailor at the world championships. But that was not to be, when the worlds got cancelled after a long wait during lockdown I thought my oppie days were over.

“Then a new European championships were organised and this time all the ‘A teams’, instead of ‘B teams’, were going to take part. It was not easy for GBR to send a team. But thanks to the work of all the parents, and a bit of luck, we made it.

After six qualifying races, the 156 competitors were separated into gold, silver and bronze fleets. Santi, in fifth place overall, earned a spot in the gold fleet to race for the European title.

Santi on the podium
Santi on the podium

The final day’s racing was cancelled when host nation Slovenia’s upgraded their Covid-19 restrictions. After eight races, the top three European boys were Italy’s Adriano Cardi Quan, Austria’s David Rhode and GB’s Santiago Sesto-Cosby.

Santi continued: “It was a very tricky event, very shifty, without any sort of patterns and in super light conditions. Boat speed was the key component to success, as well as boat handling.

“Just to stay with the leaders, your tacks and manoeuvres had to be flawless.

“The event had an abrupt finish, and I was so relieved to have been in a podium position.”

The European bronze medal caps a wonderful season for Santi. At the start of the season, he became the Optimist national champion before winning two other major international events.

Santi was joined on the GB optimist team by fellow RLymYC members Emma Breese, and GB Optimist coach Ollie Hill.

Breese ended the championships as the highest placed girl finishing 31st in the Silver Fleet.

Santi added: “This marks the end of an era for my family and me.

“All I achieved is thanks to them, other families from Lymington and abroad, like the Valencia families and the Cayman families.

“All my coaches, too, like Royal Lymington Yacht Club’s Nik Froud and Max Moyles, national coaches like Sarah McGovern, Robbie Burns and Tom Hayes. David la Brouche, Pieter van der Brosche, Mauro Berlotti, Simone Ricci, Rodrigo Benedetto and my final coach, Ollie Hill, who was with me at the Europeans.

“I would also like to thank the Beaulieu Beaufort Foundation, North Sails and Winner Team for all their financial support.”

Santi’s impressive season has seen him nominated in the Youth Sailor of the Year category at the British Yachting Awards.

To vote for the Santi, visit britishyachtingawards.com/santiago-sesto-cosby

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