by Richard Crockett
Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson are the only South Africans competing in this top-flight event, and will be up against 10 other 470 sailors. This is another feather in their caps, having just two weeks ago qualified for the Rio Olympics next year.
Their performance here will be closely watched as they will be sailing a far newer boat to the one they qualified in. A 470 hull has a limited life at top level competition, and while our dynamic duo may have competed in a 3-year old boat, they were still good enough to finish in the top one third of the Wolrd Championship fleet earlier this month. So they should have better boat speed and hopefully be in a position to challenge for a podium spot.
Competing at this level is intense, takes nerves of steel and plenty of shrewd planning. Those are attributes Roger Hudson has in abundance as he has charted their course to the Olympics, and even further beyond. Plus, Asenathi Jim is considered ‘hot’ property as he has such prodigious talent.
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With nine gold medals at stake over four days of intense racing, the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final gets under way in Abu Dhabi today with some of the sport’s most accomplished elite athletes facing a stern examination.
A total of 150 competitors from 39 countries have assembled at Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club (ADSYC) to contest eight of the ten classes chosen for Rio, as well as an open kiteboarding competition containing one of the sport’s rising stars.
All the race action takes place in the waters around Lulu Island off the Abu Dhabi corniche, presenting a great spectacle for spectators, and a worldwide ISAF television audience of millions.
According to ISAF, this is what conditions could be like: Expected conditions are outflow in the morning followed by a sea breeze which picks up to 8-12 knots but can go into the high teens. The breeze starts at 11h30, stabilizing at 13h00 and flows until sunset at 17h30.
Race timings and results can be found HERE