Today sees the first ever Team sailing League regatta in this country, a really fine initiative by South African Sailing (SAS) our national body.
KwaZulu-Natal have a very diverse team with a mix of ages, backgrounds and experience.
“The oldest member of the team is 57, and the youngest is 15. The team is very varied, with some members coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, with little sailing experience and few opportunities in life, while other sailors have attended international regattas and have had a lot of sailing experience,” explained Cay Hickson, SA Sailing – KwaZulu-Natal Regional Coordinator.
“Two young sisters, Sunita (17) and Nicolene (15) Henkeman are members of the Sea Cadets and though they are young they are very professional in their outlook.”
Asked what the benefits of the newly introduced Team Sailing League are likely to be, Hickson said: “The launch of the TSL will introduce new people to the sport of sailing, and help youngsters develop both as people, and in their ability to interact with other more experienced sailors.
“The youth are learning life skills, such as being responsible, why they must reply to messages, why they should be at practice on time and are being taught that if they are late the whole team is delayed. They are learning the team is only as fast as its slowest member.”
Hickson added that a sailing league in this team format is breathing new life into the sport.
“Team sailing introduces a new aspect to sailing in South Africa in general, as it is a different way to race compared to the usual regatta format.
“It means that the best sailor must try to stop the other team from getting to the finish line, by blocking the opposition team boat’s wind. The next best sailors in the team can then try to get to the finish line, while the best sailor is blocking the opposite team’s boats.
“I am looking forward to seeing 28 boats out on the water, creating a great visual spectacle, and I’m hoping to see the team having fun and working together.
“With the support of the whole team, the less experienced members of the team will be encouraged to gain confidence in their sailing abilities. The more experienced sailors are helping the novices learn how to sail and they hope to go out and see if they can win some races.”