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George Lee Rush

Lee Rush claims prestigious Opti title

Issue date

George Lee Rush continued his impressive form from the recent Optimist nationals to claim the title at the prestigious 2019 RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup in Bermuda, beating the best Opti sailors from around the world.

George won four of the 12 races to finish 20 points ahead of his nearest rival in the 34-boat fleet, Sebastian Kempe from Bermuda, with Matheo Capasso of the Cayman Islands another 10 points back in third. The first female, Yanne Broers of the Netherlands, was in fourth.

George, who won last month's Optimist national championships at Murrays Bay, went into the final day with an unassailable lead and his eighth in the final race was his discard.

"It feels great," the 14-year-old said at prizegiving. "I didn't really expect this at all. After the first day I was like, 'wow, this might actually be possible'.

"My parents have done so much for me. They have helped me along and started me sailing. Now I'm here and it's the start of something hopefully big for me."

George started off well, winning three of the first four races, and sailed consistently well to hold onto the lead throughout the regatta.

The Wakatere Boating Club member will head to Antigua next month for the Optimist world championships, which will be his last shot at a top finish in the Optimist, before he moves into another class.

Results and standings from the 2019 RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup in Bermuda:

1st: George Lee Rush (NZL) 1 1 6 1 4 2 4 1 5 2 5 (8) - 32 points
2nd: Sebastian Kempe (BER) 9 8 2 2 7 4 5 (18) 7 3 2 3 - 52 pts
3rd: Matheo Capasso (CAY) 12 3 8 4 2 1 3 (35 UFD) 8 5 3 13 - 62 pts

Full results

Watch George Lee Rush's speech at prizegiving